The new Han Solo prequel movie Solo: A Star Wars story ends with Han winning the Millennium Falcon, learning some hard truths about who he can trust and setting off with Chewie for new adventures, and in a lot of ways it’s a fairly self-contained story.
But the film ALSO does a fair bit to set up some sequels – and while Solo has only just been released in the UK fans are already turning their minds to what could be next from the galaxy’s scruffiest-looking nerf herder, as well as the Star Wars franchise as a whole.
With that in mind, we’re taking a look at what’s next for the new Solo franchise and the other films coming up in a galaxy far, far away, but watch out – from this point on we’re entering serious spoiler territory for the new film, so read on at your own risk.
Solo ends with Han taking on the advice of his mentor Beckett, heading to Tattooine to seek out a “big-shot gangster” who’s looking to put a crew together.
Obviously, this brings Han to the planet where we first met him in the original Star Wars film, so kind of ties the stories together, but it’s also still about a decade earlier than A New Hope took place. So what gives? Did he just hang around in the cantina for 10 years?
Well, probably not – although that isn’t a bad origin story for the character. Instead, the dialogue seems to be hinting that a follow-up film could see Han first begin his dealings with Jabba the Hutt – very much a “big” gangster, shall we say – which left him in real trouble with the slug-like alien by the time of the original trilogy.
Han isn’t quite the cynical, reluctant hero we know him as yet, so there’s still some growth to be had there, and it’s not exactly a secret that LucasFilm are hoping there could be a few more Solo films if this one goes well, so this new journey for Han and Chewie definitely has some legs for a sequel.
“I think as it evolved, there are some threads that looked pretty promising and intriguing, you know?” director Ron Howard told RadioTimes.com
“But it can also very easily end here and still set up A New Hope. It’s a fascinating world. Any criminal corner of any nation, and certainly of this universe, is gonna be sort of ripe with possibilities and juicy stories.”
There could also NOT be a sequel, as we’ve gone into elsewhere, but at the moment the chances look good for a second Solo adventure. Making it a Duo adventure, presumably.
A new (old) villain
And aside from Jabba, we might already know the villain Han and company would face in a follow-up, who’s revealed in shocking fashion towards the end of Solo.
We’re going to include an unprecedented SECOND spoiler warning here – you’re not too late to turn back! – because this is a really big surprise in the film that you really don’t want to find out before you see it.
Still here? Well, the big twist at the end of Solo is that Han’s old girlfriend Qi’Ra, played by Emilia Clarke, hasn’t been completely honest with him, and has secretly been working for a shadowy figure from past Star Wars films.
You see, it turns out that Qi’Ra’s boss, and presumably the head of the whole Crimson Dawn criminal operation, is none other than Darth Maul, the Sith Lord who we saw cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi wayyyy back in The Phantom Menace. These days he just goes by Maul, though – it’s more casual (also, he’s not a Sith Lord anymore).
Maul tells Qi’Ra they’ll be working together much more closely from now on then she flies off leaving Han behind, suggesting that we’ll see the pair of them again – otherwise it’s one hell of a dropped plot thread – and when RadioTimes.com spoke to Emilia Clarke, she hinted that a sequel might explore Qi’Ra’s actions.
“I think that we’ve left it in a place that has got plenty of room to discover another part of her,” she told us.
“And to maybe delve deeper into the mistakes she makes, when she makes them.”
We’ve written more about Maul’s return, how they pulled it off and how it fits into the wider Star Wars canon elsewhere, but for now we can say his appearance is the biggest smoking gun that a Solo sequel MUST be in the offing – they couldn’t leave that unresolved! – and that we could see Han face a seriously dangerous Dark Side foe in another movie.
Unless of course, it’s somebody else who faces him…
Kenobi: A Star Wars story
You see, it could also be that Maul’s return hints at a comeback for his old enemy Obi-Wan Kenobi, who defeated Maul during the pair’s climactic battle in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Rumours of an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off have been building for years, with prequel actor Ewan McGregor (taking over from the original trilogy’s Alec Guinness) expressing interest in returning to his fugitive Jedi character and fan enthusiasm for the project remaining sky-high.
“Obi-Wan is probably the most talked about, I think?” Emilia Clarke suggested to us when asked about the most likely spin-offs.
“I sense in the rumour mill. In the force! I sort of sense that that’s the one everybody’s maybe going to be putting their money on maybe being the next one.
“But again, I genuinely know nothing. That’s how they keep things secret on Star Wars – they just don’t really tell you. It’s a smart move.”
And who knows? Maybe Maul’s just being seeded in Solo before clashing with Obi-Wan in a Kenobi movie, in a similar way to how Marvel superheroes are often introduced in other character’s movies before appearing in their own (for example Black Panther and Spider-Man). Maybe he won’t have ANYTHING to do with future Solo films.
After all, by the time of A New Hope Han rubbished the ideas of lightsabers, the Jedi and the Force in general – and would he really do that if he’d had a run-in with a lightsaber-wielding, Dark Side Force user just a few years before?
On the other hand, there are also some issues with Maul turning up in a Kenobi movie, as in Star Wars’ spin-off TV series The Clone Wars and Rebels the pair actually clashed a number of times after their first battle, with the latter series (which takes place a few years after the events of Solo) seeing Maul finally killed by Obi-Wan on Tattooine.
These stories are canonical, so they’d have to be addressed, but general viewers of the films couldn’t be expected to follow all the backstory of two children’s TV shows, so the filmmakers might struggle to walk the tightrope of Obi-Wan and Maul’s meeting again.
And of course, it’s not the only spin-off people are currently talking about…
Lando: A Star Wars story
Donald Glover’s new interpretation of suave smuggler Lando Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy) has attracted a lot of rave reviews, and last week it was widely reported that LucasFilm were already working on a spin-off focused on the character.
As it turns out, that wasn’t the case – LucasFilm boss Kathleen Kennedy was misquoted by a French magazine – but it’s still an idea a lot of people seem to be excited by, including Glover himself.
“I would love to do it again. It’s really fun,” he told Entertainment Weekly Radio.
“I feel like with the Skywalkers, it’s hard, because it’s almost like the Bible. There’s a story that you have to tell, and the lineage of that family. I feel like out here it’s like, yeah, we’re just like hustlers and gamblers and space pirates, essentially, so you can do a lot more and have a lot more fun.
“It would be cool to see, like, Frasier in Space — like, a high-end guy in space,” he added.
“All of these characters are very specific and they have very specific points of view, so it’s always going to be fun to see them traveling around to a planet that is the opposite of what they’re used to … And all of that seems like it would be fun to write, for sure.”
There’s definitely still a lot of Han and Lando’s friendship to explore in any future films, so who’s to say we couldn’t see that in a Lando movie instead of a Solo one?
And maybe this is even a way that LucasFilm could pay off that Maul plotline without creating a plot hole – Lando certainly knew how to deal with powerful Sith Lords by the time Darth Vader invaded Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back, after all.
Other Star Wars films
Obviously after Solo we can enjoy JJ Abrams’ Episode IX in 2019, which will conclude the Skywalker saga and the stories of characters like Rey, Finn and Poe, but following that Star Wars enters a new and mysterious age of filmmaking.
In those unknown waters fans have been promised two new trilogies from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and DB Weiss, both of which will apparently follow new characters in new corners of the Star Wars universe, but details are still scarce while the future of any other new spin-offs remains to be seen.
As it stands, we don’t know exactly what Star Wars have planned for anything after 2019. A Kenobi spin-off seems likely, but we could also see stories for Lando, or even Boba Fett, as well as any more Solo standalone movies.
Presumably we’ll see Maul’s story resolved at some point, but it’s hard to say exactly how and alongside which characters, and it could be that the only time we’ll see him again is in various animated spin-off series.
In short, then, the future of Star Wars is a bit of a mystery – but we’re still excited to see what new and exciting places we’ll be visiting in a galaxy far, far away. Punch it!
Solo: A Star Wars story is in UK cinemas now