Harrison Ford may be done with the part, but that doesn't mean Han Solo is gone from our screens for good. In fact, he'll be back before you know it in Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new prequel film devoted to everyone's favourite scoundrel.
Much like Rogue One before it, Solo is a prequel set slightly apart from the new trilogy kicked off by The Force Awakens, which will focus on his formative years. The film's due out in just a few months, but with troubled production and the first trailer arriving just months from release, fans are worried that this could be the first dud since those other prequels we're not meant to talk about. Here's what we know so far.
If you're looking for news and trailers from the rest of the year's big releases, make sure to check out our guide to 2018's biggest upcoming films.
While the other three modern Star Wars films have all aimed for December releases, Disney is trying a different tactic with Solo. The film will come out on 25 May 2018 in most major markets (including the UK and US). That's just a few months away, and yet it's taken until February to get an official trailer for the movie, which has sparked fears that Disney may not be too confident in the film.
In one of the first bits of good news about the film, multiple reports are claiming that the film will first appear a little earlier than that: the film will supposedly premiere on 15 May at the Cannes Film Festival, of all places. It's not totally unusual for blockbusters to appear at the festival (out of competition, typically) but it's usually a sign of studio confidence - recent years have seen the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and The BFG make appearances. Then again, Revenge of the Sith played the festival back in 2005 too, and we know how that turned out...
Cast and crew
Harrison Ford is, sadly, a little old to step back into the Millennium Falcon cockpit for a prequel, so for the first time Han Solo will be played by someone else: Alden Ehrenreich, whose biggest part to date was a brilliant turn in the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar!
He'll be joined by a brilliant supporting cast though. First up will be a young Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover (Community, Atlanta) who's as well known for his acting as for his music, under the pseudonym Childish Gambino.
That's not all though. Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke will also join the crew as new character Qi'Ra, along with Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Warwick Davis, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as new droid L3-37. The Millennium Falcon will be pretty full then.
Perhaps the most encouraging news about the film is the script, which has been jointly written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan. If that name sounds familiar, it should - the older Kasdan has been involved in Star Wars ever since he wrote the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back, and he also contributed to the script for The Force Awakens.
Unfortunately, there's less encouraging news about the director's chair. Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) is overseeing the film, which isn't so bad - he's a safe but very capable choice. Unfortunately, he hasn't been involved for long - he only joined the film in June 2017, months into shooting, after the original directors left the project.
I'm beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars Universe after being a fan since 5/25/77.— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) June 22, 2017
They were Phil Lord and Chris Miller, best known for The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, and their inclusion had held the promise of an exciting, unconventional film with a strong sense of humour - exactly what a Han Solo prequel might need to succeed. Unfortunately, Disney execs were unhappy with the footage from their first few months of shooting, leading to the upheaval that saw them replaced by Howard.
That replacement had another casualty too. Howard stepping in meant a raft of new reshoots for the film, but Michael K Williams (The Wire) - previously expected to be in a major role - couldn't make the new dates, and had to be entirely replaced by Paul Bettany.
In March 2018 Williams revealed a little more about the role he'd left behind, which may illuminate what we can expect from Bettany in the film. He appeared on Sirius XM and explained that his character Dryden Vos, who he described as “half mountain lion, half human,” would have gotten in the way of the romance between Han Solo and Emilia Clarke's Qi'Ra.
“He was extremely sophisticated. Very rich. He’d been around the world, older guy, and it was sort of a love triangle between Emilia Clarke’s character, Qi’Ra and the young Han Solo,” Williams said.
“Not where it was overtly a love triangle but there was definitely a pissing contest going on for the girl’s attention,” Williams continued. “And [Vos] is old and [Han] is younger so it was that thing also going on, like ‘Young buck, I’ve been around the world.’ But he’s like ‘The young chick wants the young buck.’ So there was a little bit of that energy going on. But the relationship on paper was definitely with Qi’Ra and Han Solo.”
It's not clear how much of that has made it through to the final film though. The first full trailer gave us only a brief glimpse of Bettany's character - who doesn't appear to be half lion - and seems to be the target of the heist driving the film's plot.
Poster and photos
The first proper look we ever got of Solo was this early production photo, which gives us a look at the main cast in the Falcon cockpit - out of costume.
The film's first teaser trailer brought with it a quartet of one-sheet posters however, which give us a great look at the film's main quartet, but mostly make us wish we were getting a Lando Calrissian solo film.
After the trailer dropped, we were treated to our first proper stills from the film, courtesy of an Entertainment Weekly exclusive. Our favourite of the lot is this shot of Han and Chewbacca attempting to rob something called a 'Conveyex' (check out Chewie's goggles!), but you should head to EW to check out the other new photos.
After months of waiting, we finally have our first footage of Solo, a short teaser unveiled during a Super Bowl ad break.
We then had to wait whole hours (hours!) for our second look at the film: a longer teaser trailer, which gives a much better look at the plot ("I'm puttin' together a crew"), Han Solo ("I'm gonna be a pilot. The best in the galaxy"), and the return of Chewie ("RRRAARRWHHGWWR").
Apparently this was meant to be released in January, but was postponed as Disney needed yet more reshoots - a single day's worth - just to finish up the trailer. So enjoy, as a weird amount of work went into bringing this trailer to you.
Luckily they had a bit more time to prepare the next trailer - the first officially dubbed a trailer, rather than a teaser - which gives us a proper look at the story, some big character introductions, and more than a few big Star Wars callbacks.
What's the plot?
Unsurprisingly we don't have anywhere near all the details about the plot of the film, but we can make a good guess. From the trailer we know that it follows Han as he enters - and quickly exits - the Imperial Academy, with the aim of becoming a pilot.
Over the course of the film we know he's going to have his first meetings with both Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, and from the look of things play the infamous Sabacc game that saw him win the Falcon from Lando.
Thanks to Entertainment Weekly's deep dive into its exclusive images, we know a little more. There's the fact that the Falcon will look a little different, with a closed nose rather than a prong, and that Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be playing the droid L3-37 (a not-so-subtle nod to 1337-speak), Lando's sidekick. The film will also pay a visit to the swamp planet Mimban, where we'll meet Imperial Mudtroopers.
Finally, we also learnt a bit more about Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson's characters. She plays Qi'Ra, a "glamorous lady in a really sordid environment" who may be hiding a few secrets according to Clarke, while Harrelson is Tobias Beckett, a criminal organising a heist, who will turn into a sort of mentor figure for Han.
The first full trailer reveals that the target of the heist will be Paul Bettany's character, that Thandie Newton will play one of the other members of the crew, and that Han seems to essentially be the getaway driver for the whole thing.