The Star Wars franchise has grown in many ways since Disney acquired Lucasfilm back in 2012, most obviously through a new film slate that alternates between the numbered episodes of the Skywalker family saga and standalone anthology movies. By now, many are aware that the first of those spinoffs, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters in December 2016; the second, a young Han Solo tale, is set for a May 2018 premiere.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller of 21 Jump Street and LEGO Movie fame have been signed on to direct Han Solo since July 2015, and they recently unveiled Alden Ehrenreich as their leading man. As is the case with most things Star Wars, details about the project have been hard to come by. Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed that Han’s trusted pal Chewbacca will be in the film, describing it as an “origin story” for the pair. If the latest report is anything to go by, Chewie won’t be the only friend of Solo’s audiences see.
According to The Wrap, the filmmakers are looking to cast a young Lando Calrissian for the prequel. Billy Dee Williams was the one who first brought the character to life in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, returning to reprise the role in a couple episodes of Star Wars Rebels. As of now, no potential names have been linked to the role.
That Lando is going to factor into Han Solo is hardly a shocking development. Going by the characters’ interactions in the original trilogy, it was very apparent that they had a long and interesting history with one another. One key aspect of their relationship is that Han won his beloved Millennium Falcon from Lando while gambling, so one has to wonder if that incident will be shown on the big screen. With word that Ehrenreich is allegedly locked into a three-picture deal, the possibilities are virtually endless. Seeing the two scoundrels go on adventures together (with a loyal Wookiee in tow) is something many fans would enjoy seeing.
It’s nice that Lando is going to be a part of Lord and Miller’s anthology installment. While the character has been featured throughout the new canon (on Rebels, in comics, and in the novel Bloodline), he was completely left out of The Force Awakens without even any mention of his name. This will not be the same as watching Williams on the big screen again, it should still prove to be a fun endeavor. Lando has become a favorite amongst viewers, and some see him as big a part of the Star Wars legacy as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo (he did help destroy the second Death Star, after all). Ideally, having him be in the spinoff will be a great way to flesh out the character and complement what’s depicted in Empireand Jedi.
Han Solo is expected to begin production in January 2017, which is just five months away as of this writing. This means that Lord and Miller should cast the part in the near future. While Williams isn’t as synonymous with Lando as Harrison Ford is with Han Solo, this will still prove to be a challenge. It will be pertinent to find a thespian who can match the charisma of Williams while still making it their own. Given that Lord and Miller tested more than 2,500 would-be Han Solos before hiring Ehrenreich, the directors are not going to take this responsibility lightly. It’ll be interesting to see who they get, but considering Lucasfilm’s track record, it’s sure to be someone very talented.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.