Now that we know Donald Glover will star as Lando Calrissian opposite Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo in the as-yet untitled 2018 Star Wars standalone movie, it seems like we could possibly stop calling this project “The Han Solo movie” and start calling it “The Lando movie.” Or at the very least, we can start thinking of it less as a movie about just Han, and more of movie about a bunch of sexy space criminals who are totally unconcerned with restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.
Han and Lando being the focus of an entire movie conjures up images of an Ocean’s 11-style heist movie in space, mixed with an Indiana Jones swagger. If Rogue One is the gritty war movie of the Star Wars cinematic tableau, then this Han/Lando joint will likely be the one with the most boozing and card-playing (Jedis need not apply). If you’re interested in figuring out potential plots, the wealth of Han Solo backstory material is a good place to start, but Lando Calrissian’s adventures in both comic books and novels also might give us clues as to what will be going on in this movie.
What is Lando doing when the movie takes place?
According to Lawerence Kasdan, this film will take place about “ten years” before A New Hope. In the approved “real” Star Wars canon, the last time we saw Lando was in the Rebels episode “The Siege of Lothal,” which is about four years before A New Hope. At this point, Lando is a straight-up criminal and he’s definitely not flying the Millennium Falcon anymore. In the in-canon Marvel Comics miniseries Lando, we see Lando and his cyborg buddy Lobot teaming up to steal a very special Imperial starship. This seems to take place during the three years gap after A New Hope and before The Empire Strikes Back. Other than giving us fun character details, neither of these in-canon stories tells us much, since they take place so much later than this new movie.
If this is really a decade before A New Hope, then the Lando we’ll see could be up-to similar things that Lando is doing the old 1983 novels by L. Neil Smith. In the first of these novels, Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, Lando is almost exclusively a gambler and treasure hunter. And though he doesn’t meet Han Solo in these books, the old timeline had him cross paths with Han in the A.C. Crispin novel Rebel Dawn. There, we learn this gambler learned to pilot from Han himself.
Maybe this film will show us Han teaching Lando how to fly starships. Or perhaps a new interpretation of this story will flip the narrative and make Lando the mentor this time. In real life, Donald Glover is a little older than Alden Ehrenreich (just as Billy Dee Williams is older than Harrison Ford). Maybe that slight age-gap might be enough to turn the teacher into the student.
What kind of a person is Lando at this point?
Something fun about the old L. Neil Smith books is the way Lando’s uncertainty and lack of confidence are revealed. Before he became the debonair con man we meet in The Empire Strikes Back, Lando was a fair gambler, but that’s about it. He’s a shitty pilot and needs a crappy second-hand robot co-pilot to even get the Falcon moving. In the more recent Lando comics we also see him having a serious aversion to blasters, saying that the guns “always cause more trouble than they seem to solve.” In this way, Lando is less like 007 and more like Daniel Craig’s Mr. X in Layer Cake: a criminal who prefers not to carry a gun.
It’s also worth noting that in all of Lando’s print adventures, he’s more likable than Han Solo. The fact that he doesn’t always want to shoot everything up and is sort of nervous about his piloting abilities is endearing. The way he dresses as a kind of space dandy is fun too. It’s almost like Lando’s velvet and capes are ostentatious on purpose. In The Mindharp of Sharu Lando thinks about “his decorative cummerbund.” As opposed to the functional kind of cummerbund?
Lando clearly knows that the way he is perceived is part of his overall game. This idea of Lando projecting a sense of pomposity to create a disorienting effect is backed by the old version of The Star Wars Chronology published in 2000: “Lando Calrissian has always been extremely forthcoming with details about his early entrepreneurial career. Unfortunately, each of these stories is more outlandish than the last, and they often conflict with each other. As a result, much about Calrissian remains a riddle.”
Who has the Millennium Falcon?
It seems pretty obvious that the story of this film will probably reveal the moment when the ownership of the Millennium Falcon changed hands, from Lando to Han. Previously established Star Wars books — specifically the novel Rebel Dawn — have always depicted Han winning the Falcon from Lando in a game of sabacc, which is a popular poker-esque card game. But when will this happen now? Having a movie which is “about” Han Solo would mean the audience would expect to see Han Solo and Chewbacca flying the Falcon pretty quickly. With Lando is in the movie, then a scene about this fateful card game is pretty much guaranteed to happen. Hollywood journalists are even already tweeting about it.
In Rebel Dawn, Han wins the Falcon just a couple years before A New Hope, but that probably won’t work now. If Kasdan’s promise stays true and the movie takes place about 10 years before A New Hope — with Han and Lando both roughly in their 20s — then the game of cards in which Lando loses the Millennium Falcon to Han will now probably happen sooner. In a way, this is better, because then it seems like Han and Chewie have had the Falcon for a long while before they meet Luke and Obi-Wan. It also gives Lando more time to do his own thing, which will eventually culminate in him becoming a “respectable” businessman and the proprietor of Cloud City. Could this mean that we’ll see Cloud City before Lando starts to run things there? Well, even if the game of sabacc is moved in the time line for the new movie, that doesn’t mean the location has to change. In Rebel Dawn Lando lost to Han in a sabacc tournament on Cloud City. Place your bets now. Cloud City will be in this movie.
How will things end with Lando and Han?
All of this leads to a bigger plot point: the event between Han and Lando that results in the two being on less-than-good terms. Sure, it could just be that Han beating Lando at cards and getting his prized possession sours the relationship, but it might something deeper. Casting rumors about this movie have suggested that Han’s “wife,” Sana Solo, , might appear in the film. If Han and Lando truly fell out over something other than starships and money, it could have been some love-triangle action. A Star Wars film in which Lando and Han are just as pissed about space treasure and gambling as they are about a romantic interest could be super interesting. It would also add a dimension to their romance hinted it when Lando overtly comes on to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back. Han’s dismissive line “you old smoothie” could mean that Lando was indeed smoother than Han back in the day.
Still, because Han and Lando are both scrappy space criminals at this point in their lives, all signs point to their falling out having to do with some kind of intergalactic double-cross. Either way, the final moments of the Han Solo movie will leave Lando with plenty of reason to hold a grudge.