Now that principal shooting has begun, news and photos from out of the Han Solo anthology film is really starting to trickle out — and I’ve found myself surprisingly excited for it.
And, loving the characters of Han, Lando and Chewie so much, I couldn’t help but think about how I’d want this movie to play out, were it up to me.
So, here’s my dream plot/treatment that I know will never happen, but I think would totally rock and a guy can dream:
Han Saves Chewie
We start the movie with Han in a tough spot, trying to find a gig, in some seedy city.
An old friend from Corellia, played by Emilia Clark (who’s been cast in the film), worked herself into leading her own team of muscle — real enforcers — for a major crime boss, and while Han never wanted to be working in the crime business, he was a skilled (if not yet famously so) pilot, and his friend could get him in.
We have a flashback of the friend, as Han nears the crime boss’s location. But just then we see a fight break loose — some Wookiee is being cornered by a dozen different men, who are trying to take him alive. It’s impressive, and draws Han in — until he unexpectedly finds himself forced into action, saving the Wookiee, Chewbacca.
This earns Han a lifelong friend (complete with a life debt)…. and some seriously bad enemies.
Chewie, after all, was a war hero on Kashyyyk, not only during the Clone Wars — but in the resistance movement against the Empire. Han had never heard of the name Chewbacca, but had certainly heard of the resistance movement on Kashyyyk. It had been a huge headache for the Empire, but had finally been put down, the rebels scattered.
Of course, Han did not realize this at first — Han’s too busy running away from the firefight, with Chewbacca close behind.
We learn in the next scene, after Han tries to figure out what was going on (with Han no doubt saying something like “what do you mean, you were a leader in the Wookiee resistance?!”).
Now Han knows both he and Chewie will end up having a bounty on them — and will have to run. To make matters worse, the leader of the team of baddies after them is the character played by Emilia Clark, Han’s old friend — the person he was going to go ask for help. Chewbacca was being delivered to her boss.
That bridge is now burned!
Worse, Han knows she’s a total bad ass, with a small army under her command. No one wants to be on the wrong side of her — and while she and Han have a history, Han *knows* that it wouldn’t stop from her from having him killed to get back her prize, Chewbacca. (Maybe she’d feel bad about it, if he was lucky.)
That said, this whole issue is a problem that can be fixed — the Empire is corrupt, especially this far out from the core worlds, and even local magistrates can be bribed, bounties can be paid off, etc. — but man is it going to cost him.
And Han can’t afford it right now, because he’s got practically nothing.
Enter Lando Calrissian
With a lot of people now after them, including Emilia Clark’s character and her entire team, Han needs to get the hell off this planet, and for that he needs a really good ship to stay ahead of the shit he knows is coming.
It just so happens that his old buddy Lando is on the same planet, and owns a seedy ship yard, with a bunch of ships for sale — including a secretly awesome hunk of junk Lando has been hiding in the back of the lot, which Lando had been working on himself: the Millennium Falcon.
Lando just finished installing a top-secret engine prototype he stole (or received through some other illicit means) that was among the most advanced in the galaxy. He hadn’t tested it out yet, but he’s pretty sure it’ll make the Falcon the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
Unfortunately — for Lando — Han *knows* Lando stole the engine, and has a good idea of just what ship his friend put it in. A ship that would be perfect to get in and out of any system, because it was so old and crappy and common as to raise no suspicions on sight. But it was a good ship, and reliable — and could be outfitted with some decent weapons if need be.
Now he just had to get his hands on it, and so starts the con. Han didn’t have anything — but he actually grew up fairly well to do, and had inherited a business. Which he had already lost. But Lando didn’t know that.
He’d challenge Lando in a high stakes game, using the ‘business’ for stakes.
Han wins big (cheating, of course)– a nice chunk of change — in fact, it was all that Lando had on hand, which was fairly considerable. It may even have been enough to make Han’s bounty go away (if not Chewie’s).
And we see in Han’s eyes, just for a second, that he considers betraying his new Wookiee friend — but we get some line of dialog a little bit later in which Han admits that he couldn’t do that, because that would have brought him back to where he was before: alone, a pilot without a ship or crew.
Thankfully, Lando doesn’t know when to quit. Lando actually needs that cash — he had plans for it — so he puts any ship in his yard on the line for a chance to make his money back.
This time, though, it seems as if Lando could be onto Han’s cheating — and Han has to actually win this one himself. Which Han does, by some stroke of luck. Lando keeps his word (in fact, he seems almost more disappointed about the cash), and lets Han pick out a ship — thinking it will be one of the newer or more advanced ships he has, and there are a few good ones to choose from, which Lando describes as if he were selling them to a customer. But then Han picks the Falcon.
Lando’s outraged, realizing he’s been conned — and Han had known about the ship and prototype engine all along — but Lando can’t do anything about it, especially with Chewie acting all menacing-like.
The escape — but new problems emerge.
Another bridge burned, Han gets the hell out of dodge — before he had even fully packed/prepared things, because Emilia Clark’s character shows up. Han suspects Lando may have betrayed him, but can’t prove it, and he and Chewie don’t have time to figure it out — what with Emilia Clark’s crew shooting at them.
But then Han realizes he left all the cash they won from Lando behind. And no way could they go back and get it — or have Lando wire it. That money was now safely back in Lando’s hands.
“Fuck!” Or whatever Han can say in a galaxy far, far away. This was not good.
Once they escape, though, Han goes into hyperspace and can finally take a breather. Yeah, things weren’t perfect, but at least they were safe — for now. And that feels pretty darn good.
But then Han realizes he’s at a complete loss for what to do. Both he and Chewie are wanted, and while they had a great ship — they didn’t have anything yet they could do with it. He worries about it for a few minutes, until it suddenly dawns on him: he realizes the famous Kessel Run is coming up, with a huge cash prize, and he has a new cool ship that could actually win it.
Han and Chewie quickly chat about the Kessel Run, perhaps with a hologram showing a map with different potential routes. It’s a race with a beginning point and an end point, but no standard route to travel through. A ship’s speed is important, but not always paramount — because there are routes ships can travel in that are more dangerous, but shorter, to save time.
The best ships are the ones that aren’t just fast, but have sophisticated enough engines for ships to calculate the hardest, most dangerous routes, shaving off the total distance traveled — which is not only the quickest, but the best way for smugglers to get around, since the Empire didn’t patrol them. Han is sure the Falcon is up to the task.
That said, going the shortest possible distance — which is exactly 9.8 parsecs, half that of the record — is thought to be impossible, because it passes in between a series of extremely powerful black holes no ship could possibly calculate well enough to navigate safely. Even being off a few microns could be deadly. Literally no one has ever successfully gone that way before — but enough people have tried and died for everyone to know it’s a really, really stupid idea.
Enter Jabba the Hutt
While Han feels strongly that the Kessel Run is a great idea, Han has an immediate problem. The Kessel Run actually has a pretty damn big entrance fee, and Han has no way to pay it.
With a lifetime of burned bridges, he realizes his only move left is to borrow the funds from some seedy source, but borrowing money from seedy sources is not exactly safe or smart, especially when you have a bounty on your head — and when the safest and easiest way for any seedy source to profit is by taking the bounty.
Han realizes that, to have any chance, he needed to go to a crime boss who was his enemy’s enemy.
And that person *just so happens* to be Jabba the Hutt. But Jabba’s not on Tatooine now, because we’ve seen Tatooine, and that would be boring.
The idea of being on the wrong side of Jabba is frightening, especially given that while Han knows he’s a talented pilot, he doesn’t quite have the confidence and experience he had in the original trilogy, but Han’s sure the Falcon can do well enough to at least place in the money and pay off the Kessel Run fee + whatever Jabba’s (no doubt substantial) fee would be, so he does it, and puts up the Falcon up as collateral.
But that means losing– or at least falling out of the money — is now really, really not an option. Between Jabba and Emilia Clark’s character, and with a renegade Wookiee by his side — one who was wanted by the Empire — losing meant there really would be no safe place left in the galaxy.
Yet, oddly, Han casts off those worries, as we start to see that unshakeable quality of his begin to emerge. The Falcon is the ultimate ace in the hole.
And, so, we’re off to the Kessel Run!
The Lead Up to the Kessel Run
The location of the Kessel Run actually starts at some seedy space station or other. Han’s all excited, despite everything he’s risked, except — crap — Clark’s underworld crew are all there, too, competing with their own ship. And their ship is legit, fast, and extremely dangerous looking. It has all the lasers.
Emilia Clark’s character is very, very happy to see Han… so she can collect on his bounty, and maybe catch up just long enough for her boss to decide what to do with him.
But the Kessel Run race is sacred ground that no one would dare trample on, so Han feels relatively safe for now — at least until the end of the race. In fact, Han’s so cocky, he decides to go to some cantina he knows Clark’s crew will be at.
Han has a drink with Clark, each trying to win some battle of wits over a fancy drink, until that breaks down, with Han and Clark’s crew of bad dudes sneering at each other for a while.
Han realizes that maybe this wasn’t such a hot idea — when, lo and behold, Lando comes in. Lando gets some enjoyment watching Han squirm at the cantina, and offers him no help — though finds he has quite a bit of respect for Chewie, who basically saves Han’s neck, sending Clark’s a pair of underlings running.
After Clark’s team leaves, we learn all that cash Lando lost to Han was what Lando saved to be able to pay the entrance fee to do the Kessel Run, which was why Lando was willing to lose a ship to try to get it all back. Everyone who was anyone in the underworld did the Kessel Run, especially if they were young and trying to prove themselves — so Lando was very, very glad for Han’s little “donation” when Han left the money behind, and Lando didn’t hesitate to rub it in that he already spent it.
The ship Lando has, which we’ve already seen at his ship yard, is no Falcon, but still pretty darn good. It’s a sleek design, maybe even Nabooian in origin. It’s also the ship Lando *thought* he was going to lose to Han, which would have been a stiff loss, but one he could have swallowed, since he didn’t think he’d need it anymore. In fact, Lando had competed in the Kessel Run using his ship before previously, and done pretty well, finishing in the money and making something of a name for himself. That’s how he got the money for the ship yard to begin with. But Lando wanted to win…
He was still pissed with Han, and Han wasn’t so happy with Lando either — Han basically confirming that he conned Lando, and Lando basically confirming he let Clark’s crew in on Han’s location at the ship yard, but they do not use so many words. After the conversation, which is largely made through subtext, they part ways from the Cantina, but not on the best of terms. In fact, while they don’t fight, it looks like they’re done with each other.
The Kessel Run
The race begins! Things are looking good for a while, until Han realizes Clark’s team totally fucked with the Falcon, causing some mishap with the ship. Sabotage.
(Or, maybe, because this is Hollywood, we need a Space Battle! and, after some intense ship-to-ship combat, Clark’s Ship With All The Lasers leaves the Falcon dead in the water — but Clark just can’t *quite* finish the job, stranding them instead. She talks to Han over the radio, saying that all she needs is their location to collect on the bounty — dead or alive.)
Han is stuck: whatever is wrong with the ship — insert technobabble here — literally can’t be fixed without outside help, and he and Chewie are in real trouble. Space, after all, is really big when a hyperspace engine breaks down, and there is no guarantee anyone would find them — plus there were several black holes lurking nearby, in close proximity, and Han was scared the Falcon could be pulled into any of them.
Lando actually does find them, though. He had a homing beacon on the Falcon from when the ship was in his yard, and he realized the ship had stopped for no good reason. Lando contacts Han to see what’s up, learning of the situation.
Han swallows his pride, apologizes and asks for help. Lando tries to leverage helping Han and Chewie for the Falcon, but Han doesn’t budge: he would rather die than lose the ship at this point, and Chewie agrees. They’ve truly made an all-or-nothing gamble on the Falcon, and were betting with their lives.
So, eventually Lando is the one to budge — not quite forgiving Han, but from one hustler to another, he decides to give Han and Chewie some spare part that gets the Falcon back online, then Lando departs.
Lando is only happy that the part will take so long to install that Han will have no real shot at the race. The relationship isn’t fixed, but it’s a better parting than at the cantina.
Han and Chewie get the part installed and the ship back working, but they’re really, really far behind. Things look hopeless! Even Chewie is down. If they follow the route they had set out to, there would be no way they could make up the time — no matter how fast the Falcon was.
Han knows he’s going to lose at this point, without even being able to finish in the money, but he really can’t afford to — he has the bounty hunters to think of and, worse… Jabba the Hutt.
Han decides to do the really, really stupid thing — and take the route absolutely no one in the galaxy is stupid enough to try, straight through all the black holes. He succeeds — quite the bumpy ride — getting to the end point in a mere 11.93 parsecs.
He doesn’t win — too much time had already passed — but he finished ahead of *just* enough teams to get in the money.
And by using the route through the black holes, Han was not only the talk of the tournament, but quickly became famous throughout the galaxy. (Well, at least the parts of the galaxy that were seedy enough to care about the Kessel Run.)
The After Math
We get a hustler’s version of the ending of A New Hope — an award ceremony for crazy fighter pilots, smugglers, bounty hunters, pirates and thugs. A little Las Vegasy, but also a little Jabba’s Palacy.
Han’s not the big winner, or all that close — he’s off to the corner, and handed one of those boxes ‘o cash we see in A New Hope when Han gets his reward for saving Leia. (No medals here, although we do see the winner got a trophy.)
That said, Han *is* getting a lot of the attention. Winning the Kessel Run is a big deal, and guarantees a name will become well-known in the circles Han and Lando had traveled in — but to absolutely demolish the distance record, and travel straight through all the black holes? No one had ever done that before.
Han’s loving the attention, and actually forgets his problems for a minute. Seeing Clark’s team on their way, though, brings him back to reality.
He remains calm, and actually tells Chewie to be quiet. He knows they’re both still safe for the moment — at least until he leaves whatever palace they’re in, and knowing having a Wookiee around at a time like this was a good thing — but that’s a small comfort.
After some tense words — probably involving Clark saying she wished Han had died out in space, since it would have been less painful for him than whatever fate her boss would bestow on him — they are interrupted, probably just as Clark is telling Han to enjoy his last supper, they are interrupted.
Jabba is no fool — knowing an opportunity when he sees one. He has a message delivered to Han… and Clark. And the messenger is Greedo, because of course.
Jabba will make Han’s bounty go away — and Chewbacca’s, too. And he has Clark confirm that on her end, which she does, as Greedo asks for a moment with Han alone.
Han is given an ultimatum: Jabba has seen how amazing the Falcon is, and realizes that Han and Chewie are a resourceful, potent team. Han the hot-shot pilot, Chewie the muscle and engineer. It’s the total package, and Jabba wants them working for him. He sees a long and fruitful relationship. Emphasis on long.
In return, Jabba will make all their problems disappear — some Imperial magistrate or other will be bribed to make Chewie’s problems go away, and Jabba will pay to make Han’s bounty go away.
It’s that, or Clark’s team take Han and Chewie in… and so Han finds himself under the employ of the galaxy’s most notorious and dangerous crime boss in the galaxy.
After Han accepts, Clark comes back, confirming that the issues are solved — that “Jabba’s taken care of it” — and the two have a drink. This one is under much better circumstances, if still tense. Han admits the only reason any of this started was because he was seeking her out to begin with. She actually figured.
While there is clearly a mutual interest in each other, the two realize that they work for rival bosses and it could never work out. It does not take long to get to that realization. Han still wants it, saying something corny and un-Han-like, because we’re seeing him in one of those rare moments he has his guard down, and this is a younger Han, with a little more hope — but Clark says something quite similar to when Han was watching Obi-Wan train Luke: that the she and him together would take a miracle, and she doesn’t believe in miracles, only the blaster at her side. She warns him not to get in her way in the future, because she’d do her job — and now that he had his crime boss, he should do his.
They both part ways, Han going off with Chewie — his real space partner. Han and Chewie go back to the Falcon, as we really soak up the ship. Han says this is not the direction he wanted to take, but that maybe working for Jabba wouldn’t be so bad. ‘After all, it wasn’t like anyone would be boarding the Falcon any time soon.’ And then they take off, the ship flying to hyperspace.