The man who taught Han Solo how to fly like a lunatic and shoot like a scoundrel might make his way into the origin story of the famous smuggler in the next standalone Star Wars film. But who is that man? The inspiration for the new canonical mentor of Han Solo could come from a book in the non-canon Legends continuity.
On January 3, Variety reported that Woody Harrelson is “the top choice to play Han Solo’s mentor,” in the film planned for release in 2018. (This rumor is also connected to another rumor that the film will be released in the winter of 2018, instead of the summer of 2018.)
But if Harrelson is playing a mentor to a hot-headed, younger Han, there might be some old-school basis for such a character. Just as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s story arc in The Force Awakens is reminiscent of Han and Leia’s son Jacen Solo from the books, something similar might play out with Han Solo’s new mentor character.
The best candidate for this character is without a doubt Garris Shrike, a smuggler and bounty hunter who raised the orphaned Han Solo as part of a band of orphans he employed to rob people. Essentially, Garris was the the outer space Fagan to young Han Solo’s Artful Dodger. (Or maybe Han was Oliver Twist?) Appearing first in A.C. Crispin’s novel The Paradise Snare, Garris becomes Han Solo’s entry point into a world of crime. If directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and screenwriter Jon Kasdan are looking for a basis for this mentor, and a ready-made plot, they’ve would find one with Garris Shrike.
Notably, the Han Solo film has been rumored to take place about ten years before the events of A New Hope. This fits wit the Garris Shrike storyline, too. In Crispin’s The Paradise Snare, Shrike catches up with Han Solo about ten years prior to A New Hope, hoping to collect a bounty on his wayward “son.” Obviously, this doesn’t end well.
Of course, it’s possible that the Solo film will concoct a new character for the mentor character, but it’s telling that even way back in 1997, A.C. Crispin was encouraged by Lucasfilm to give Han this backstory specifically. And if Gariss Shrike resurface as Woody Harrelson, it wouldn’t be the first time Star Wars retconned old characters from the books for the new official canon.
The untiled Han Solo film starring Donald Glover and Lando and Alden Ehrenreich as Han will be released sometime in 2018.