Donald Glover

Donald Glover

After months of rumors upon rumors, Lucasfilm has just confirmed that Donald Glover, best known for his roles on television in Community and Atlanta (which he created) and on film in The Martian, as well as his Grammy-nominated hip-hop work under the stage name Childish Gambino, will portray a young Lando Calrissian in 2018’s as-yet-untitled young Han Solo Star Wars spinoff.

Calrissian, a role originated by the legendary Billy Dee Williams in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and reprised by Williams in Return of the Jedi and the animated television series Star Wars Rebels, is a longtime associate of smuggler Han Solo. Williams’s portrayal was career-defining and iconic, leaving Glover with large shoes to fill and a legendary mustache to grow into.

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

With Glover as only the second casting announcement following Alden Ehrenreich’s confirmation as Han Solo in July, one can infer that the plot of the film will prominently involve Lando. In The Empire Strikes Back, Lando’s first scene is almost entirely dialogue alluding to a rocky past friendship built on mutual benefit instead of trust. “You know,” says Calrissian to Solo, “seeing you sure brings back a few things.” Ending the film with the friendship on a sour note could tie this line to the spinoff nicely. Famously, Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a card game. Perhaps this is in the film and functions as the source of the slight bitterness?

In Return of the Jedi, when Lando is promoted to general in the Rebel Alliance, he remarks to Han, “Someone must have told them all about my little maneuver at the Battle of Taanab.” This battle has not been depicted in the Star Wars canon to date, and is fertile ground for this new story.

Closer to the time period of the new film, presumably, is Star Wars Rebels. Calrissian has appeared in two episodes to date, both set four or five years before the original Star Wars film, A New Hope, which introduced Han Solo but did not feature Calrissian. In Rebels, Lando is already a somewhat successful smuggler (though he prefers the term “entrepreneur”) who is willing to help the fledgling rebellion…for a price. The Solo film, which has been rumored to take place a few years before this, could show the roots of Calrissian’s notoriety as a smu– er, entrepreneur.

Han's blaster in the only promotional image of the Solo film to date, tweeted by director Christopher Miller on May 4

Han’s blaster in the only promotional image of the Solo film to date, tweeted by director Christopher Miller on May 4

Offscreen, Lando’s canonical adventures have been just as thrilling. Last year, Marvel published a five-part comic miniseries, Star Wars: Lando, chronicling a heist performed by Lando Calrissian and his cyborg aide, Lobot, also introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. The timeline of this series is ambiguous, but it is definitely set after the original Star Wars film but before Lando’s acquisition of Cloud City, of which he is Baron Administrator in his debut in Empire. The series establishes Lobot’s status as a longtime friend and helper of Calrissian, leading some to now speculate that he too could feature in this film.

The Han Solo film, the second Star Wars spinoff following December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, known for The Lego Movie and the 21 Jump Street film series. The screenplay is written by father/son duo Lawrence and Jon Kasdan and is the fourth Star Wars credit for Lawrence, following The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens. It is slated for release in 2018.