(Note: This post contains lots of spoilers for “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”)
There are so many references to other “Star Wars” stories, characters and events in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” that it’s actually easy to miss them. From showing how Han Solo got his lucky dice, to explaining how the Millennium Falcon can “talk” to C-3PO in “The Empire Strikes Back,” to jokes about Lando Calrissian’s eventual life as the “respectable” administrator of a mining colony, the movie is packed full of “Star Wars” lore.
But “Solo” also knows its “Star Wars” history, and works in a lot of references tothings that more casual fans might have missed. The movie calls back not only to the films, but cartoons that take place between the prequels and original trilogy, and even makes clever references to the no-longer-canon “Star Wars” Expanded Universe of comics, games and novels from before Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Here are eight of the most obscure references hidden in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Old school “Star Wars” fans know the names of all those random bounty hunters that Darth Vader hired to track down the Millennium Falcon in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Boba Fett is the most famous one, but “Solo” drops a reference to another one: Bossk, the lizard-man bounty hunter who never shows up again in the films. When deciding whether to take Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Chewie (Joonas Suotamo) into their crew, Val (Thandie Newton) asks Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) why they don’t call up Bossk instead. Apparently he was pretty good at his job of doing crimes, as evidenced from his appearance in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” cartoon show.
There are lots of planets in “Star Wars” that have only popped up in ancillary materials or as references. In “Solo,” before deciding to head to Kessel to steal more coaxium for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), Han and his crew discuss other possible places, like Scarif (the planet from the end of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) and Felucia. We’ve only seen Felucia, a colorful but extremely wild and dangerous jungle planet, once in the movies, a brief appearance in “Revenge of the Sith.” It it’s also appeared in the cartoon “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” comics, and a couple of video games — specifically, “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” and 2004’s “Star Wars: Battlefront II.”
“Masters of Teras Kasi”
In “Solo,” Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) shows off some serious fighting skills on Kessel. She beats down a handful of guys while she pretends to “negotiate” to buy coaxium. L3 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) asks her what cool moves she just used, and Qi’ra tells her that the martial arts fighting style is Teras Kasi, a super deep cut reference to an obscure, panned video game from 1997, “Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi.” The game allowed players to take on the roles of various “Star Wars” characters, and make them fight, “Mortal Kombat”-style.
When he first meets Beckett, Lando (Donald Glover) is impressed because Beckett is rumored to have killed an assassin and bounty hunter called Aurra Sing, to whom Lando was deeply in debt. Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of her — Aurra was a character who appeared very briefly in “The Phantom Menace,” and then didn’t pop up again in any of the films. She had an extensive backstory in the old Expanded Universe, but when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, it rendered all that stuff non-canon. What material there is about Aurra Sing appears in the cartoon “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” but “Solo” is the first we’ve heard that Aurra is no longer alive. Presumably, Aurra will show up (and shove off) in the “Solo” comic tie-in, “Star Wars: Beckett.”
In “Solo,” the big green cloud of death surrounding Kessel is called the Maelstrom, and flying through it is the infamous Kessel Run. The Maelstrom also has a big role in the video game “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” although its place in the canon is dubious at this point. In that game, which is set thousands of years before the “Star Wars” films, the Maelstrom is also home to a Sith prison, where one Jedi main character, Revan, is held and tortured for centuries.
“Solo” finds Han, Chewie and the Millennium Falcon flying past the Maw, a giant gravity well in the middle of the Maelstrom near Kessel. Though it’s changed a bit from its original conception in the Expanded Universe, the name has stuck. The original Maw was a group of extremely difficult-to-navigate black holes inside the Maelstrom. The Empire took advantage by creating a space station near the Maw: a secret weapons facility, headed up by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing in “A New Hope”), that very few people knew about and that was tasked with creating more superweapons like the Death Star.
While Han and the rest of the crew are out on Kessel doing a heist, Lando hangs back on the Falcon, where we catch him briefly dictating a memoir about his adventures with L3. The snatch of a story he rattles off is actually a real Expanded Universe novel: the 1983 L. Neil Smith book “Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu.” It was the first of three novels that made up “The Lando Calrissian Adventures,” and honestly they’d be a good place to start if Lucasfilm wants to go ahead and spin off Donald Glover’s Lando into his own stories.
For “Star Wars” fans who are only into the movies, the return of Darth Maul (Ray Park), the Sith apprentice bad guy from “The Phantom Menace,” was a big deal. After all, didn’t we see that guy get cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor)? But in a nod to the cartoons “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels,” the former Sith Lord returns to the big screen with same voice he gets in the cartoons, that of actor Sam Witwer (who also played another “Star Wars” character: Starkiller, an apprentice of Darth Vader, in the video game “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”). Maul has been around for a while thanks to the cartoons and some comics, and “Solo” suggests we’re about to find out even more about his tragic, angry, badass life, since he’s now the head of the criminal syndicate Crimson Dawn in “Solo,” and working with Qi’ra.