We are about to get an entire film about the early exploits of everybody's favorite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerfherder with Solo: A Star Wars Story. It's coming at us faster than a Cloudrider's Swoop, and soon enough we'll know all there is to know about how that double-crossing, no-good swindler got his start.
This begs the question, though — what do we already know about Han Solo's early history? Though Han's backstory was much more fleshed out in the old expanded universe, those stories are no longer considered canon. Even within those stories, details about his early life were varied and contradictory — was he raised by Wookiees or not, is only one example. In one of these stories from the old days, Leia Organa remarked on Han's past, saying:
"What you see is absolutely what you get. His past is a mystery, yes. He's never said much and I doubt he ever will."
What do we know about his early days that is actually canon? Honestly, not much... from a certain point of view.
I never made a deal with Kanjiklub, so hear me out. Though most of the new film is going to deal with Han's early life, we do have some details (all of them a part of the new canon) that may give us an idea of what we can expect. Though some of these details may play out alongside the events of the new film (or actually be full-on depicted), a wise being once said, "always in motion is future." We won't know anything for certain until May 25, but never tell me the odds. Here's what we know.
MEAN STREETS (OF CORELLIA)
When Han talks about outrunning those "big Corellian ships" in Star Wars: A New Hope, he's talking about Imperial Star Destroyers. He refers to them as such (in that one instance only) because a great many of those ships were built on the planet Corellia, and that is the planet where Han grew up.
Going by the time period of this film (and Han's age in the trailers), we can gauge that Han was born toward the end of the Old Republic. By the time Han was old enough to reach a stranger's pocket, the Empire would have been the authority on his home planet. The recent novel Star Wars: Last Shot by Daniel Jose Older shows us an older Han, a few years after the birth of his own son, the wee little Ben Solo. Han is struggling with being a father, and at one point he chalks this up to the fact that he never really had a father himself.
Based on this one detail, we can infer that Han's father, whoever he was, did not stick around long. Han was mostly left to his own devices on the mean streets of Corellia, an industrial world that hosted major Imperial ship-building operations.
Because of these circumstances, Han learned to fend for himself at an early age. Despite his last name, growing up on Corellia was not a "solo" experience. His partner in mischief on the streets was a girl named Qi'ra, who will be played by Emilia Clarke in the new film.
Han and Qi'ra were kids together, and they helped each other to survive. She may not be Han's longest friend (that would be Chewie, naturally), but she is the character that knew him first — as she says in one of the trailers, she's the only one who knows what he really is. Whatever her role in the movie ultimately turns out to be, she will be a constant reminder to Han of his early life on Corellia, growing up under the glow of those Star Destroyers-under-construction. She knows what lies underneath all of the bluster and bravado, and she likely knows him well enough to be able to call him out on his karkin' kriff when the occasion calls for it.
Something else that is a part of Han's early history? This right here:
DICE TO SEE YOU
If this gold-colored pair of dice looks familiar, it's because we just saw them in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Luke takes them out of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and astrally projects them (along with himself) to the planet Crait. He places this physical symbol of Han in Leia's hands, before telling her that "no one's ever really gone."
Were those dice just invented for The Last Jedi? Not at all — they can be seen in a pair of cockpit shots in A New Hope. They are most apparent in our first-ever visit to the cockpit, actually, as Chewie brushes them with his head before he takes his co-pilot position.
The trailers and TV spots have shown Han hanging these dice in the speeder that he is joy riding around Corellia in, and we'd wager many credits that we'll see him place them in the Falcon's cockpit by the time the new film ends. We don't know how they came to be in Han's possession in the first place, but we can be relatively sure that they are important to him. He changes jackets and guns all the time, but these dice have been in it for the long haul.
MIMBAN HAN, THE IMPERIAL SERVICEMAN
For a long time, Han's history in the Expanded Universe included some time spent serving the Empire. That aspect of his early life has been re-canonized, once again thanks to Last Shot.
Han refers to his imperial service a few times in that book, which includes a reference to time serving as a "serviceman on Mimban." The idea that Han was a serviceman (and not a pilot) for the Empire is interesting, but so is the location. Mimban is the fog-shrouded planet that was the setting for the first Star Wars book ever produced, the back-door emergency sequel called Splinter of the Mind's Eye.
The book has been wiped from canon (many stopped taking it seriously around the time Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire came out, if not before), but we can give a hearty "welcome back to canon" to Mimban itself. Based on toy sets, digital trading cards, and the above image (which looks like it could be taking place on Mimban), we will likely see some of Han's Mimban-based service in the film.
How Han ended up signing on to serve the Empire is something that the film will also likely include — the very first teaser featured a shot of Han talking to an Imperial recruiter in what looked like an Imperial facility on Corellia. Can you picture this wild, rule-breaking free spirit doing well in the faceless ranks of the Imperial army? Yeah, me neither. Was his service a means to an end, or something that he was actually trying? We don't know yet.
Thankfully for everyone, Han doesn't stick with the Empire for very long. Shocker!
CARD PLAYER, GAMBLER, SCOUNDREL, WE LIKE HIM
Following his period of joining up with the Empire, Han went through a series of events that are critical to his story. After ditching the Imperials, Han would go on to meet Chewbacca and form the "life debt" that bonded them for, well, pretty much Han's entire life. He'd also win the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a game of sabacc, which Lando believes (in the post-Star Wars: Return of the Jedi time period) was not completely legitimate.
As the owner of the ship, Han made some changes — in Last Shot, he talks about how he converted it into a scuffed-up home, and less of "some maniac's cape museum." This is also the period in which Han makes the famous "Kessel Run" in less than 12 parsecs, and though there has been some debate about whether Han was actually piloting the ship when it made this run (he only ever boasted about the ship doing it), Last Shot cleared it up once and for all. When the ship accomplished this feat, Han was definitely behind the... spaceship steering apparatus? I don't know if it's actually called the "wheel," so let's just say he was the pilot.
Meeting Chewie and winning the Falcon are locked in for the new movie, and the Kessel Run is very likely. Something drastic changes the outer appearance of the ship between this film and the rest of the saga, so making the Kessel Run at a legendary speed could have something to do with it.
Side note: The planet Kessel is dismal and full of spice mines and other highly unpleasant places. Many Wookiees are enslaved there. It's a horrible place.
SANA STARROS AND THE TINY GANGSTER IN A BOX
This happens after the events of Solo, but it might inform some of the events of the film. Once again, Daniel Jose Older comes to our rescue with Last Shot.
A major section of the book deals with Han in his smuggling period, before he ran into Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. We find him on Takodana, getting some tough love from Maz Kanata. Han is heartbroken over someone, and he's not taking it well. He refuses to even say the woman's name, but we're guessing that it could very likely be Qi'ra. That's pure speculation, but come on — dark-haired, independent beauties with a bone to pick are kind of exactly Han's type.
In his heartbroken state, he and Chewie get mixed up with Sana Starros, another scoundrel, but a much smarter and more effective one. In trying to impress her (and get over his mystery heartbreak), Han gets involved in a deal that gets worse all the time, which actually includes Sana and Han keeping one of the galaxy's tiniest gangsters in a box. Their mission also includes staking out a space diner, where Han witnesses an Imperial eating cabbage and threatening to close the place down because his pot pie has not been served to him on time.
Han barely takes this in because he's droning on (and on) to Chewie about his love life. Chewie's a good friend and just sits there, waiting for it to be over. Sana's scheme doesn't work out, and though she acts like she's done with Han, we know that she isn't. They would soon attempt another ruse together, and this one involved them pretending to be married. It's a real enough marriage that Sana even refers to herself as "Sana Solo" when she pops up on Marvel's new (in-canon) line of Star Wars comics, telling Leia Organa some of the story.
Han may have had feelings for Qi'ra and Sana — but by the time Sana hits the scene in that comic, Han had already met Leia, and she's as true a destiny for him as he's ever had.
When did Han get in trouble with Jabba? Probably sometime around the marriage scam with Sana. We don't know exactly when he had to dump his cargo at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser, but we're guessing that it happened closer to the events of A New Hope.
We will know a lot more about everything to do with Han after May 25 — as has already been mentioned, it is literally going to be a film about Han's early exploits. Still, a little in-canon information never hurt anyone. Let's close with an excerpt from the fifteen-verse song "The Virtues of King Han Solo" that C-3PO wrote for him in the (no longer canon) novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia by Dave Wolverton:
"Han Solo. What a man! Solo. He's every Princess's dream!"
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters on May 25. It will probably not include that song.