han solo and chewbacca

When ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘ arrives in theaters this weekend, audiences everywhere will see the story of Han Solo’s early life told on the big screen for the first time. This marks a landmark for the franchise, not only because it depicts on-screen events that have thus far only been hinted at or chronicled in (no longer canon) novels, but also because it sees Alden Ehrenreich take on the mantle of the beloved smuggler, who until now has been played only by Harrison Ford. But had some different decisions been made during the production of ‘Revenge of the Sith’, this particular ‘Star Wars’ story may have taken a very different shape.

Lucas’s original script for the third and final installment of the much maligned prequel trilogy included a sequence on Kashyyyk that would have showcased – you guessed it – a young Han Solo. At this point, Han would have been a ten-year-old orphan being raised by Chewbacca. As for his role in the story, in the course of the battle on the forested planet (which did make it into the final cut), a young Han would have come across a transmitter in the wreckage of Separatist droids. He would then have delivered it to Yoda and the Wookiee leaders. This, in turn, would have been instrumental in leading Obi-Wan to General Grievous for their climactic showdown on Utapau.

Ultimately it’s probably for the best that this sequence didn’t make it into the finished version of ‘Revenge of the Sith’. On the one hand, it would have effectively precluded the existence of ‘Solo’ (at least in its present form), and on the other, it comes across as being a largely superfluous and piece of fan service. More than that, it would have been at odds with Han’s established backstory (to which ‘Solo’ appears to hew more closely), particularly his history with Chewie, which saw the two meet when Han rescued his erstwhile companion from a life of slavery under the Empire. On top of that, it would have almost certainly been seen as Lucas trying to redefine Han’s character, something for which he continues to draw fire to this day (thanks in no small part to the edits made to ‘A New Hope’ and the ensuing argument over whether or not “Han shot first“).

But will ‘Solo’ find itself facing similar accusations? We’ll find out soon enough.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ will arrive in theaters on May 25, 2018. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Joonas Suotamo. Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Solo’ and other upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films as it becomes available!