Chewbacca looks set to take centre stage in Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Wookiee’s time to shine is long overdue after largely being cast to one side by the recent films.
The latest trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story featured a lot more Chewbacca (now played by Joonas Suotamo) than previous trailers, with one scene showing a daring heist on a giant space train. It even fleshed out aspects of his backstory hitherto unexplored in the big-screen Star Wars movies.
For example, thanks to a line from Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo, we now know that Chewbacca is 190-years-old at the time Solo takes place, making him roughly 200 in 1977’s A New Hope (we’re assuming Star Wars years are roughly the same as Earth years).
We also see him intimately embracing another Wookiee. This suggests Malla, Chewie’s wife who was de-canonized and recently re-canonized, will be making an official appearance on screen, 40 years after first being introduced in the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Whether Chewie’s son Lumpy will make appearance, it’s not clear, but we can but hope. He was also recently recanonized in a Chuck Wendig’s 2017 novel Aftermath: Empire’s End.
This new emphasis on Chewbacca appears to be deliberate too. It looks like director Ron Howard added more of the “walking carpet” to the film as appears in scenes that he was missing from in previous trailers. Some have suggested he may have been removed from earlier trailers but, either way, it looks like there’s more of an emphasis on him now than before.
One of the main complaints about the recent Star Wars saga entries is how they’ve treated the Original Trilogy characters. The core trio – Luke, Leia, Han – never got to spend time together on screen, with both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo both having become shadows of their formers selves in the years since Return of the Jedi.
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.” Kylo Ren
“Let the past die,” asked Kylo Ren of Rey in The Last Jedi, a challenge that has happily taken up by the filmmakers themselves. First JJ Abrams offed Han Solo with a swift lightsaber to the gut, then by Rian Johnson who killed Admiral Ackbar with little fanfare, and then finished Luke off with a fierce bout of space yoga.
C-3PO and R2-D2 have also been pushed to the side in favour of BB-8, however that’s probably a wise move following their overexposure in the Prequel Trilogy.
There’s been no sign of Lando Calrissian either, despite being one of the major heroes of Return of the Jedi but, perhaps most cruelly, Chewbacca has been largely sidelined from the main story.
In The Force Awakens, he was denied his moment of sympathy and reflection with Leia following the death of Han Solo – a moment JJ Abrams admitted was “a mistake” – and he spent the majority of The Last Jedi kicking his furry heels on Ahch-To, before becoming a sidekick to the Porgs.
Solo looks set to reveal how Han Solo first teamed up with his Millennium Falcon co-pilot Chewbacca and the latest trailer shows the pair in action, with Chewie in the thick of the action, where he belongs. Granted, his inability to speak coherent English makes him a difficult character to hang narrative on, but that didn’t stop BB-8 becoming a huge part of Episode VII and VIII.
In the official Star Wars timeline, Chewbacca fought the Separatist Droid Army alongside Yoda in the Battle of Kashyyyk. He was later freed from slavery by Han Solo, who he now owes a “life debt” too, a moment we expect to see in Solo, probably quite early on.
Wookiee’s live for around 400 years, making him middle-aged during the Original Trilogy, so here’s hoping his restoration in Solo leads to Chewie having a bigger role to play in 2019’s Episode IX.
Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives in UK cinemas on 24 May.