While we count down the days to the arrival of Episode IX, and the return of Billy Dee Williams to the galaxy far, far away, we can take some time to marvel at the earlier adventures of the suave gambler, an Imperial Academy defector and a seemingly ageless wookiee.
To celebrate the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story on multiple formats for you to enjoy at home, Fantha Trackers reflect on their favourite Han, Chewie and Lando moments.
Okay, I’m going to kick things off with a favourite moment from each character. First of all, Chewie.
One of Chewbacca’s finest performances is during his detention on Cloud City where he ponders over the gathered pieces of an exploded C-3PO. As a child, I always found this scene emotional for some reason. Maybe it was Chewie’s screams and roars at the prison cell siren, constantly wailing – or his relief when it stops. The Empire Strikes Back novelisation by Donald F Glut resonated for me during that scene, not only showing a more emotional side to our beloved wookiee, but also expanding on his species’ abilities with technology.
I wanted so much to be Han Solo when I was a kid. Didn’t most of us? So many great moments to treasure. For my generation – and I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it – it has to be his triumphant “Chewie, we’re home” moment in The Force Awakens. When the trailer was first shown, grown men shed a tear of nostalgic joy – me included.
Lando was a tricky guy for me to like at first. He had seemingly betrayed his friend, turning Han over to Darth Vader and Boba Fett on Cloud City. Of course, in later years you learn to accept that he had no choice, but nevertheless, I found it difficult to like Mr Calrissian when I was aged 9 or 10 back in 1980. My favourite Lando scene – simple. Blowing up the second Death Star with Nien Nunb at his side. Flames lapping at the cockpit as the Falcon escapes the space station infrastructure heighten the tension, and the ‘yee haw‘ from Lando as they escape the imminent explosion cemented his place in galactic folklore.
Where do I start? Largely because of my interest in the underworld arena of the Star Wars galaxy these three characters have always engaged me the most. As played by Harrison Ford, Han was easy to love, and now with Alden Ehrenreich in charge of the character I’m keen to see how his story progresses. Of course, Billy Dee isn’t finished with the role yet, and Donald Glover has done a sterling job of taking the younger Calrissian and crafting his performance to seamlessly fit with that of Williams, so we now have the chance of learning more about how Lando became the character we know and love from the original trilogy. If you count the in-production Episode IX, Joonas Suotamo has already played the role four times, fast approaching the six times Peter Mayhew played Chewie (the original trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens and The Holiday Special). Our resident wookiee is in safe hands.
As usual, I waffle – here are my favourite Han, Chewie and Lando moments.
I could easily pick a moment from each of the six appearances Han Solo has made so far, but we’d be here all day, so I will pick….that moment in The Force Awakens, flying over the forests of Takodana heading to Maz Kanata’s castle, when Rey says how she’s never seen so much green. That world-weary look in Han’s eyes – he’s seen the galaxy a thousand times over, been a rogue, a hero, looked out for himself and sacrificed for others – and the regret he must feel. He knows things we don’t. I believe there were answers for Rey that rested with Han, one’s we’ll likely never get to hear.
Sure, the asteroid chase, ‘I love you, I know’, bursting into the Endor bunker, ‘That’s not how the Force works!’, ‘fast ship?’ are every bit as iconic, but at the tail end of his life, knowing what he knows, that moment hits me every time.
I’m also going to pick a small moment from my favourite Han Solo adventure, Han Solo At Star’s End. We all know Han’s dislike for droids, but that moment when the bodyguard Uul-Rha-Shan is attacking the old droid Zollux, striking him in the head with a disruptor beam, Solo takes out the reptilian and then drags Zollux back to safety to be repaired and placed in a new body. It’s a small scene, and of course Han is protecting himself from Uul-Rha-Shan’s attack, but that moment when no one else is around, for Han to help this venerable old droid to safety always struck a chord with me.
As a kid already into Star Wars but growing into my fandom day by day it was the years leading up to Return of the Jedi, as Episode VI was coming in fast and A New Hope finally hit home video and broadcast television, that’s when the permacrete set and I became a die-hard Star Wars fan for life.
Marvel UK were pumping out the classic Star Wars weekly title which morphed into The Empire Strikes Back weekly on 29th May 1980 and then switched back to monthly again with issue 140 in November 1980. I hopped back on after a couple of years away from the comic to continue my reading. I devoured those comics each and every month, reading and re-reading them while the search for Han Solo continued. Filling the gap between Empire and Jedi, I was drawn to Lando and his adventures.
As such, my Lando pick is his issue 57 of the Marvel US run and a story titled ‘Hello, Bespin, Good-bye!’, which was reprinted in the UK The Empire Strikes Back monthly in issues 156 and 157 of May and June 1982.
The story sees Lando thrown off the edge of Cloud City by the Imperial administrator of Bespin, Captain Hugo Treece. Lobot uses a jet-pack to save Lando and land him in the Ugnaughts home city of Ugnorgrad. So much happens in the story. Luke and Shira Brie arrive on Cloud City, Lando works with Ugnaught leader King Ozz to get the Empire off the city in the clouds and Treece is caught out for his financial misdeeds. I was absolutely enthralled as an 11 year old kid, so much so that when I started writing fanfic that same month in May 1982 I included characters called Treece, Kings and Ozz in the story, as well as involving Lando and Lobot.
Sure, these old stories are kitch and don’t fit the current continuity. People were sniffy about the original Marvel run back in the 90’s, let alone now, but to me this is as Star Wars as it gets and my own head canon will always include these stories.
As for on celluloid, Lando’s best moment is in Empire when he puts his life and those of the people he is employed to protect at risk when he sends out a city-wide broadcast ordering everyone to evacuate the city before more Imperial troops arrive.
We know Lando well enough – he likely had The Cobra sitting in a private docking bay primed and ready to go, but he takes his debt to Han, Chewie and Leia seriously and pitches in with the good guys, to galaxy-changing effect. It’s a small moment in a climactic final act, but to me it says a lot.
Of the three characters, Chewie has appeared the most. All three episodes of the original trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and Solo as well as The Clone Wars and The Holiday Special. The mighty wookiee has enjoyed a plethora of great moments across all media, but my favourite is in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Kept underground in a dank, muddy dungeon with nothing to eat but fellow prisoners, Chewie (aka the beast) and Han meet for the first time. Chewie is annoyed, tired, hungry and then surprised as this scruffy scrumrat of a human speaks Shyriiwook and concocts a plan to escape, which works by the skin of its teeth. Straight away the Chewbacca / Solo dynamic is set and throughout the film Chewie has a number of superb moments.
In print I’m heading back to October 1999 and the first chapter of the nineteen book series The New Jedi Order and Vector Prime. Chewie, Han, the Falcon just had to be together when the wookiee makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the innocent children of Sernpidal as its moon rushes towards them. No regrets from Chewie, simply doing what he’s always done, sticking up for the little guy and doing the right thing, just like he did when he first met Han in that dungeon on Mimban.
The death of Chewie was a bitter pill for many to swallow. R. A. Salvatore even received death threats, although the decision to kill of Chewie was conceived by Dark Horse head Randy Stradley and rubber-stamped by George Lucas. His return to continuity once again made whole that classic dynamic, until the death of Solo in The Force Awakens.
There are plenty of other great moments – yes, there are even some in The Star Wars Holiday Special – but his final actions in Vector Prime say everything about Chewie that you need to know.
If you’ve made it down this far then I guess you really like Han, Chewbacca and Lando. My favourite interactions between these characters is when they’re generally goofing around. Chewie trying to fix the Falcon with Han yelling at him. Or when Han hits the Falcon to get the power back on, because that’s what we did when technology was old. Remember belting the living daylights out a TV to get a picture to stabilise? I think it’s something missing from all the movies that have followed since the first trilogy. Small moments like these were classic.
I’m going to combine my favourite moments of Han, Chewie and Lando!
So my favourite Han and Chewie moment is on the Falcon in A New Hope, Chewie and R2-D2 are playing the game Dejarik, it’s not going Chewie’s way so he gets angry! The reaction and Han’s answer has coined a phrase that I used often when I choose which battle to fight with my daughter or husband !!!
My favourite Lando moment for me is a combination of a series of events leading up to the destruction of the second Death Star. It is his realisation that he is part of the bigger picture of the Rebel Alliance and that it’s going to work! From his start on Bespin suffering at the clutches of the Empire to an Empire destroyer! I hope that his character arc and his appearance in Episode IX will do this character justice.
My favourite moments for the characters of Han, Chewie and Lando you say? Well, here we go….
The standout moment for me has to be the original theatrical release cantina scene, where of course Han Shot First! (WARNING – There are some spoilers contained within my choices)
Despite the subsequent changes in the Special Editions, this for me is the quintessential moment where we learn that this happy-go-lucky smuggler is used to doing whatever it takes to survive and avoid those keen to collect the bounty placed on him by Jabba the Hutt. This is also echoed in Solo: A Star Wars Story, where he tries to play situations to his benefit and do what he needs to do to get along. And in perfect symmetry with the 1977 film, when the moment comes he takes down Beckett before he can bring an untimely end to Han’s journey.
Some of Chewie’s best moments for me are when he’s acting as the counter to Han’s statements – like when confronted by Kanjiklub and the Guavian enforcers and his nod and growl forces Han to admit this isn’t the first time he’s let them down. But despite that, my favourite Chewie moment has to be the somewhat controversial moment on Ahch-To where he’s just about to tuck in a rather nicely roasted Porg only to be confronted by other Porgs who look on in horror as the comrade is about to become lunch. The look in his eyes as he reconsiders his choice is priceless and to me demonstrates his compassionate side, as although he ‘always thinks with his stomach’, when faced with the rest of the Porg family he decides against eating their chum – although he’s presumably already killed him so is it really just a waste of good food?
A smooth talking ladies man, full of charisma and bravado – but enough about me, what about our second favourite scoundrel in the galaxy far, far away. Billy Dee Williams had a difficult job crashing the party established by the ‘big 3’ in A New Hope, but from our first meeting with him on Bespin, he became part of the Star Wars furniture, thanks to his portrayal of Han’s longtime buddy. However in the casting for Solo, LFL pulled off a masterstroke in casting Donald Glover as the young Lando. In Alden Ehrenreich we saw the seeds of what would become the latter era Han Solo, but the character of Lando seemed to be much closer to the older version, the same charm, the same eye for the ladies and any opportunity to add to his own story – as he says ‘everything you’ve heard about me is true’.
So my favourite moment comes down to a split second in Solo where he and L3 are having the conversation about their destination and the route, and once they’re ready to go, they turn to face each other and give a simultaneous salute to each other before jumping into hyperspace – a beautiful moment and every time I see the film it makes me salute them back.
After seeing Solo: A Star Wars story I have a new favorite Han moment. It’s the scene where we first see Han in Episode IV as Chewie brings Obi-Wan and Luke to meet Han to do the Alderaan deal. Nearly every word in in Hans opening gambit now has an explained story behind it. The Kessel Run and out running Imperial starships (specifically the big Corellian ships) have now been brought to life, so we can understand both why he thinks it’s such a big deal, and also why he uses it as a selling point.
Han goes on to develop in the original trilogy as well as The Force Awakens, but here we have a nice example of how knowing more of the back story helps us understand Han before we really knew him.
Han loves to give off the impression that he is the quintessential rogue and hero, but there is a lovely moment in The Empire Strikes Back when he is very much NOT in control, but still manages to style it out. It’s when they are hiding in the asteroid belt, and taking coverage to repair the Falcon. No one can figure out quite why the asteroid is unstable, and being the typical annoying droid – C-3PO gets on Han’s wick. In response to this Han delivers the withering line “take the professor in the back and plug him into the hyperdrive.” A brilliant line, very rarely quoted.
This one may be a bit controversial but bare with me. My Chewie moment is the moment that he dies…
In the now legends novel Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore, Chewbacca sacrifices his life to save the life of Han’s son Anakin from a collision between the planet Sernpidal and its moon. Vector Prime launched a New Jedi Order series of books, the largest Star Wars literature project to date. Often derided, often controversial, the series divides Star Wars literature fans. Chewbacca’s death legitimised the series, it made everyone stand up and take notice. No one was safe. It was a tough task to write, and a tough task to get right but for me it worked. It led to an outpouring of love for our favourite Wookiee who was often sidelined up to that point. It led to a Chewbacca centric comic mini series where the entire comic was in in Shyriiwook. Something we had never had. It also changed how we looked at characters outwith the main three, and led to a wealth of side characters suddenly coming to the fore. It changed Star Wars literature, and it also brought back Lumpawarrump!!!
Meh, he’s a cheat at cards, he betrays his friends, he is useless in a rescue and ends up needing saved himself, he gambles away a ship containing the soul of someone he loves – what’s to love ?
Them capes and that wardrobe full of them!!!!!