What would Han Solo be without Chewbacca? They're friends, shipmates, comrades— they're each other's everything. Though the fast approaching Solo: A Star Wars Story is set to give us a ton of new information about the young Captain Solo, we're just as excited to learn more about our favorite Wookiee.
The film looks like it's going to depict the first meeting between Chewie and Han, and that itself has us excited. That meeting aside, Chewie led quite an interesting life long before he ever laid eyes on that Corellian scoundrel. In the second trailer for Solo, Han finds out that at the time of the film Chewie is 190 years old. He's already had a life, and what better time than now to take a look at what his pre-Solo history included?
As with Han, the removal of the Expanded Universe from canon took some things away from Chewbacca's history, but in some ways, the new canon kept more of him than it lost. Here's what we know: it's not wise to upset a Wookiee.
Apart from that, here's everything else we know about Chewbacca's early years.
WOOKIEE SPEAK ON KASHYYYK
Thanks to the aforementioned trailers, we know that Chewbacca was born 190 years before the events of Solo. While we don't know it for certain, it is highly likely that he was born on Kashyyyk, the home planet to Wookiee civilization at large.
Because of his age, Chewbacca would have grown up in a period long before the Empire was even a sparkle in Sheev Palpatine's eye. The Old Republic would have been fully functioning (kind of), and the Wookiees of Kashyyyk would have lived in relative peace.
Thanks to Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy of books, we know that Chewie's wife, Mallatobuck (Malla for short), has been added back into canon. She first appeared in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, but we can't blame her for that. Like it or not, Malla's back in Chewie's life, and back in Star Wars canon.
We're not sure when Chewie met her and formed this relationship, but this lovely period of peace seems possible. Chewie and Malla's son Lumpawaroo was brought back to canon as well, but we don't know how old he is. It's possible that he was conceived during this period, but we don't know all that much about Wookiee mating customs. Not yet, anyway.
TRANDOSHAN PLEASURE HUNTERS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Fast forward several years later, and the galaxy has been ravaged by the conflict known as the Clone Wars. Whether they wanted to become involved or not, Wookiees were eventually dragged into the conflict — and some of them became victims of those who sought out to profit from crime while the galaxy was caught up in the war.
At the end of the third season of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Anakin's padawan Ahsoka Tano gets captured by a bunch of nasty Trandoshans. They are a lizard-life species, and the most famous one in the Star Wars canon is the bounty hunter Bossk, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Mostly all Trandoshans look a lot like him.
Ahsoka and some other Jedi younglings gain the alliance of a prisoner and, wouldn't you know it, that prisoner was none other than Chewbacca! Wookiees and Trandoshans really don't like each other, so Chewie is instantly on board with helping Ahsoka and the others kick the kriff out of them. Using a box of scraps, Chewie is able to send a distress beacon to Kashyyyk. He, Ahsoka, and the younglings then manage to storm the aerial stronghold of their Trandoshan captors.
Chewie holds his own against them, though he and Ahsoka are outnumbered. Thankfully for all of them, his distress signal went through, and a ship full of Wookiee warriors arrives in the nick of time. The day is won, and the "Wookiee Hunt" was over.
Back on Coruscant, Ahsoka reunites with Anakin while Chewie and the other Wookiees speak with Yoda. It seems like Yoda has good relations with them, which would come into play towards the end of the Clone Wars.
YOU FOUGHT IN THE CLONE WARS?
Fast forward again to the end of the Clone Wars in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith — we find Chewie back home on Kashyyyk, except the horrors of war have finally caught up to the world of the Wookiees.
The separatist army has invaded the planet, and Yoda volunteers to go and help them with the war effort, citing his "good relations." In addition to several battalions of clone troopers, Yoda also has the help of a squadron of Wookiee warriors. Helping him lead the defense is a Wookiee named Tarfful... and Chewbacca.
Chewbacca is with Yoda when Order 66 happens, and though Yoda needs no help in swiftly decapitating a couple of clones who were planning to shoot him in the back, he does get a little piggy-back lift from Chewbacca on the way to safety. Tarfful and Chewie help Yoda into an escape pod so he can leave the planet, and they howl and roar as Yoda's pod lifts up into the sky.
The end of the Clone Wars means that the droid army that was invading Kashyyyk shuts down — the bad news is that the "republic" forces that have moved in aren't about to go anywhere. It's not long before Chancellor Palpatine reorganizes the Republic into the Galactic Empire, and though we aren't shown this, the already present clone forces begin the Imperial occupation of the planet. This Imperial occupation lasts throughout the entirety of the classic trilogy, and all the way up to the second Aftermath book by Chuck Wendig. Aftermath: Life Debt finally sees the planet liberated from Imperial rule.
The Empire scoured the planet for every resource it had— and unfortunately, one of the biggest resources of all were the Wookiees themselves. The strong, hearty beings made perfect slaves for the Empire. Wookiee slaves were put to work on their own planet, were shipped off to awful places like Kessel, and were even forced to participate in the very dangerous work of building the Death Star.
THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND
We don't know yet how Chewie first met Han. However it happens, it will begin the famous "life debt" bond between the two of them, so something tells us that Han will save Chewie from something. Saving him from slavery seems like a safe bet.
In this period of the Empire turning any and all Wookiees into slaves, it is possible that Chewbacca was enslaved just like the rest of his species. Han may very well end up freeing Chewbacca from Imperial servitude, and this is what could begin the life debt. The other possibility is that Chewie ran from Kashyyyk and got into some other kind of trouble, but we doubt that he would voluntarily run off and leave the rest of his kind to suffer and die; let's not forget that he has a wife, and his son Lumpawaroo is almost certainly on the scene at this point.
If we had to guess, Chewie was enslaved by the Empire and then taken away from Kashyyyk by force. It is after this that he meets Han, forms the relationship, and then constantly thinks of going back to liberate the planet.
It may take him a while, but he eventually does exactly that.
The new film will have Chewbacca being played by Joonas Suotamo, who stepped in for the original Chewie, Peter Mayhew, at various points during the shooting of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He took over the role in full for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The posters and merchandising have been constantly leaving this man out of the credits, so we will shout it to Kessel and back right now: STARRING JOONAS SUOTAMO AS CHEWBACCA.
Solo: A Star Wars Story will be in theaters on May 25th. Joonas Suotamo will play Chewbacca.