Solo: A Star Wars Story is so packed with Easter eggs for longtime Star Wars fans that perhaps it should have come out in April. In this article, I’m going to try and chronicle all of the moments that made my girlfriend punch me in the side, not including when I read that Easter joke aloud to her. Naturally, spoilers abound!
The latest Star Wars standalone, which lands in theaters in the United States today, had some diehard fans worried more than any previous release from Lucasfilm since they were acquired by Disney almost six years ago, whether it be because of the mid-production shakeup with directors or the casting of Han Solo, which was bound to be controversial no matter who the choice.
Despite the mass trepidation, I have confidence that father-son writing team Jon and Lawrence Kasdan won over some naysayers with more callbacks and throwbacks to the prequels, the television series, and even the Expanded Universe than any film in the series to date. Here’s what I’ve caught so far, after one viewing, zealous nerding-out with friends, and a twelve-parsec journey through the black holes of Wookieepedia (if you round down).
The spaceport to which Han and Qi’ra attempt to escape shares its name with the capital of Corellia from the non-canonical Legends universe, comprised of all stories from before 2014 except for the six original films and The Clone Wars animated series. Coronet City first appeared in 1995’s Ambush at Corellia by Roger McBride Allen. While the film’s polluted and industrialized Corellia differs from more pastoral depictions in these early sources, its long heritage as a spaceport and shipyard is well-represented.
Han is sent to the Imperial Starfleet’s academy on Carida. This planet, first introduced in the 1994 novel Dark Apprentice by Kevin J. Anderson, is also where Han attended flight school in the non-canonical Legends timeline. In that universe, he fared far better; while he defends his expulsion in Solo as a result of having “a mind of [his] own,” he graduated top of his class in Legends.
Mimban, previously mentioned in an early episode of The Clone Wars, is a key setting of the first act of the film, a muddy purgatory battlefield for disgraced Imperials where Han realizes war is hell and finds his way out of the army. This is this world’s first appearance onscreen after its introduction in the very first Star Wars novel, 1978’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster, but it nearly made its way to cinemas in a very different sort of film. Had the original Star Wars not been a rousing success, the plot line of Splinter was initially developed to be a low-budget sequel. The foggy, drab wastes of Mimban would have proven an affordable setting for this Plan B project. Also of note: one of Enfys Nest’s band of marauders, said to all be from worlds subjugated by the Empire, fits the description of the Coway, the natives of Mimban from Splinter.
When Han fakes a fight with Chewbacca to ensure their escape from a filthy Imperial dungeon, he refers to him as a “moof milker,” a pejorative he’ll later use when complaining about a fuel compressor installed on the Millennium Falcon by Unkar Plutt in The Force Awakens. As Lawrence Kasdan began his work on Solo before transferring over to write The Force Awakens as revealed in this interview with io9, though, the real question is which line came first?
Glee Anselm and the Valachord
From beginning to end, Tobias Beckett wants nothing more than to return to his homeworld of Glee Anselm. It’s not hard to see why when you see that this planet, identified as the homeworld of Jedi Master Kit Fisto in supplementary material surrounding the release of 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, is a veritable island paradise in these tourism ads which frequently pop up in the background of the animated series The Clone Wars. On Glee Anselm, he hopes to learn to play the valachord. This may be inspired by the valahorn, a learnable instrument for entertainer characters in 2003’s massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game Star Wars Galaxies.
Bossk and the Zan Sisters
When Val mentions who she’d rather have on the Vandor-1 train heist than Han Solo and Chewbacca, most fans probably caught that she mentioned Bossk, the reptilian Trandoshan bounty hunter who will be sent after the Millennium Falcon by Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. But along with Bossk, she mentions the Zan sisters. While no characters by that name have appeared in Star Wars media to date, the 1996 novel Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry features two teräs käsi (you bet your umlauts I’ll get to teräs käsi) masters by the name of Zan and Zu Pike. They’re sisters, they’re outlaws, they’re formidable, and it makes sense that the name would be tweaked to avoid confusion with the Pyke Syndicate which comes into play later in the film.
While not mentioned in the film itself, supplemental materials and merchandising have identified Enfys Nest’s gang as the Cloud-Riders. This name is borrowed from the very first original arc of the 1977 Marvel Star Wars comics after their adaptation of the original film. In those non-canonical stories, the Cloud-Riders were far less altruistic under the leadership of a man named with all of the subtlety one would expect from early Star Wars comics: Serji-X Arrogantus, “The Arrogant One.”
Han Solo and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Amidst Dryden Vos’s treasures and trinkets is a large crystal skull. While this may seem to be a reference to a certain other hero originally portrayed by Harrison Ford, the skull actually bears an uncanny resemblance to the one on the cover of the original 1980 edition of Han Solo and the Lost Legacy by Brian Daley.
Rogue One Extras Return
Several of Dryden Vos’s staff appear to have had their heads cut off above the nose and replaced with a droid visor of some kind. This design originates in concept art for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was finally realized as a background character in Rogue One on Jedha. Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide by Pablo Hidalgo explains that these people are called the Decraniated and are victims of extreme lobotomies by Dr. Evazan, the hideous barfly who picks a fight with Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars film and cameos briefly in Rogue One’s Jedha sequence. The Visual Guide explains that the armored lawman Tam Posla, also a Jedha extra, is hunting Evazan. While Posla, his motives, and Evazan’s victims have appeared more prominently in Marvel’s Star Wars comics, Posla himself can be glimpsed in the background of Han’s first sabacc game with Lando.
Scarif and Mercy Island
In Beckett and Vos’s negotiations regarding ways Beckett can make up for the botched train robbery, these two Imperial strongholds are mentioned. Scarif is more than familiar to Star Wars fans after 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story set its climax in the Imperial Citadel on the beaches of this secretive world. Mercy Island is all-new, but just as Rogue One has Jyn mention hyperspace tracking development in a throwaway line before it would go on to be a major plot point a year later in The Last Jedi, I wouldn’t be shocked if we see Mercy Island again down the road. My first impression was that it would be an ironic name given to a particularly foul Imperial prison.
The second draft of 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which represents the first work Solo co-writer Lawrence Kasdan ever did on the Star Wars saga, mentions Han’s winning of the Falcon in a “sabacca game.” Due to this, it can’t be said that sabacc originates in the Legends stories purely, but “staves” are mentioned as a suit of cards. This corresponds to sabacc rules first spelled out in the 1989 West End Games roleplaying supplement Crisis on Cloud City, which even included a deck of sabacc cards! More recently, Lando has been seen playing (and winning) sabacc on the animated series Star Wars Rebels.
After cheating Han in sabacc, Lando thinks he’s the proud owner of a new VCX-100. Han may have made up this particular vessel in a bluff, but not the VCX-100 line itself, and Lando will travel on one beloved fan-favorite VCX-100 several years after the events of this film; the Ghost, prominently featured in Star Wars Rebels, is of this class. The VCX-series itself was a particularly obscure callback even when introduced in Star Wars Rebels, as it first appeared in “A Legacy of Starships,” an article in Star Wars Gamer’s February 2001 issue.
If avowed Star Wars aficionado Donald Glover hadn’t been fanatically enthusiastic about playing a young Lando Calrissian in this film before getting the script, some of these lines certainly would’ve done it. Upon seeing Qi’ra, Lando insists that he and Dryden Vos are square as far as past debts go after some operation he ran for the Crimson Dawn on Felucia, the colorful floral planet where Jedi Master Aayla Secura meets her end in 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, which was featured far more prominently in several skirmishes throughout The Clone Wars.
Shortly after his Felucia comment, Calrissian remarks that he is grateful for Tobias Beckett’s killing of Aurra Sing, to whom he was indebted. Sing first appears in 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace viewing the Podrace from a balcony. Her backstory was fleshed out in numerous Legends novels and comics before the canonical The Clone Wars established George Lucas’s vision for her: a callous mentor to Boba Fett and former lover of the pirate Hondo Ohnaka. The 2006 Legends novel Legacy of the Force: Tempest has Han and Leia encountering a nonagenarian Sing four decades after the events of the original trilogy, which seems quite unlikely in this timeline, thanks to Beckett (or the fall, depending who you ask).
Lando’s Escape Pod
Lando mentions that he added an escape pod to the Millennium Falcon when the band of outlaws first arrives at its dock on Vandor-1. This remark put many continuity hounds at ease, as the famed YT-1300 Corellian freighter, blue livery and all, makes a cameo appearance in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, set nine years prior to most of Solo. When promo images unveiled Lando’s sleeker, streamlined Falcon, eagle-eyed devotees were quick to quibble that the nose differed from its earlier appearance. I may or may not have been among them and may or may not have smiled at that moment. I’m not on trial here.
Kessel Run Points of Interest
We all knew Lando was the smoothest guy in any movie, but who knew he’d get all the best nerdgasmic lines? “You have to thread through the Si’Klaata Cluster and then pass through the Maelstrom,” may not have been the easiest line to deliver, but it’s a blast to unpack. The Si’Klaata Cluster is an area of Hutt Space first mentioned in Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse, a 2000 installment in The New Jedi Order novel series. The Maelstrom finds its roots in a 1989 roleplaying supplement entitled Riders of the Maelstrom, but would gain much more notoriety as the location in which the Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-Jedi Revan was imprisoned for three centuries in Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare’s hit massively-multiplayer online roleplaying game. The Maw, which is a treacherous gravity well along the Kessel Run, originates in 1994’s Jedi Search novel by Kevin J. Anderson, but has featured in dozens volumes since, playing home to everything from to Death Star construction to Jedi sanctuaries throughout the Legends continuity.
L3’s Audio Foreshadowing
L3-37’s ultimate fate is to be uploaded into the Millennium Falcon, where she exists as part of the ship’s artificial intelligence (which adds an odd and unexpected poignancy to Lando’s loss of the ship). When she first interfaces with the ship before the jump to Kessel, she makes some sounds that were originally heard in The Empire Strikes Back while C-3PO tries to communicate with the ship’s computer.
One of the most obscure callbacks involves the dejarik holochess board. While the scene with Beckett teaching Chewbacca to play is obviously echoing the famous scene from the original film, one very subtle detail occurs when Chewbacca snaps at him. He punches the board, and two of the monsters glitch and vanish. These two creatures were designed by Phil Tippett for the first Star Wars movie, but were removed from the chess game by director George Lucas, who felt the board was getting too crowded. This is, of course, Star Wars, and so these two forgotten beasts are simply getting the ridiculously esoteric backstory to which they were always entitled.
Kessel and the Pykes
The Pykes are both a syndicate in control of the spice mines of Kessel and the species of Director Quay Tolsite, who confronts the crew of the Millennium Falcon upon landing. Both the overall design of Kessel and the Pykes themselves find their roots in the animated Star Wars canon. Kessel’s design very closely matches its appearance in Star Wars Rebels, which was based on unused designs created for The Clone Wars. The Pykes are established as spice lords in the latter series.
The martial art which Qi’ra employs against Quay Tolsite, having learned it from Dryden Vos, finds its roots in the critically-panned Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi for the original PlayStation console. The game was as superfluous to the Star Wars fanbase as, well, the diacritic marks in the words “teräs käsi,” but the martial art lived on in various Expanded Universe tales.
The Calrissian Chronicles
One of the stranger reveals of Solo is that Lando is a narcissistic YouTuber. In his log of The Calrissian Chronicles, done via a very stylish holographic selfie-video, he spouts off numerous tidbits of Legends trivia, referencing everything from Sharu to the Oseon Belt. This all comes from The Lando Calrissian Adventures, a 1983 trilogy of novels chronicling the “sportsman” and his escapades before his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. Is it possible the sensational and sometimes bizarre tales from that trilogy exist in-universe as a holo-vlog?
In his first speaking role in the series, Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis portrays the lieutenant to the formidable Enfys Nest, who goes unnamed in the film but is credited as Weazel. Like all of Nest’s marauders, Weazel’s true loyalties are revealed in the end, but one interesting factoid never discussed is that Solo is not Weazel’s first on-screen appearance; he is seated next to Watto in The Phantom Menace’s Podrace sequence. Clearly he’s had a change of heart regarding slavery and oppressors.
Special thanks to my friend Tom Kness for pointing this one out: on the planet Savareen, Tobias Beckett tells a local that he’s heard they make good brandy. This is perhaps the deepest-dive of all the references in Solo; Savareen brandy was the drink of choice of such Expanded Universe legends (pun intended, not sorry) as Mara Jade, first appearing in X-Wing: The Bacta War by Michael A. Stackpole.
Colo Claw Fish
At the tensest part of the film’s climax, Dryden Vos, always a gentleman in his own mind, offers his “guests” a bite of colo claw fish hors d’oeuvres. The last time we encountered this fearsome aquatic beast in a Star Wars film, the roles were reversed, as it was the colo claw fish attempting to devour the humans in The Phantom Menace, where it is the third of the sea creatures to attack our heroes in the submarine sequence.
You knew we were getting to this. I warned you about spoilers at the top of the article, but for the few of you who haven’t seen the film yet but are reading this anyway, first of all, shame on you. Second of all, I’m not going to ruin this one on you. Suffice it to say that his very existence in this time period is from The Clone Wars, his endgame is in Rebels, that big-shot gangster on Tatooine’s interest in him could very well be a callback to their interactions in The Clone Wars’ fifth season, and the planet to which he summons an individual at the conclusion of the film would be a phenomenal setting for the inevitable sequel. I still can’t believe the boldness of that inclusion.
While diehards praised Rogue One for its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Rebels shoutouts, it’s safe to say that Solo is by far the most interconnected of all films in the Star Wars universe. A fantastic story in its own right, the cameos and callouts just serve as an extra treat for the fans who have been in this galaxy far, far away since a long time ago.