It's been less than six months since we got the last Star Wars film, and yet here we are with Solo: A Star Wars Story - the Han Solo-centric spin-off that chronicles the young would-be smuggler's life before he became a master criminal and hero to the rebellion. It's not the best film, but it's still good, and like any other Star Wars film there are plenty of links back to the rest of the franchise. As usual we sat down to try and spot them all, and here is what we found:
The Opening Crawl
Like Rogue One Solo doesn't have an opening crawl in the traditional sense, though the film does lay out some on-screen context before the action begins. It's not really an opening crawl with the epic music, but it does the exact same job. Unlike Rogue One which skipped it entirely.
In the old canon and the new Han Solo calls the planet Corellia home. In the Legends canon Corellia is a pretty typical planet, with a large population of humans and inhabitents known for their prowess in both building and flying ships. It was also generally free of Imperial interference, thanks a deal struck by its leader - promising loyalty to the Empire (and plenty of taxes).
In Solo it's been reimagined as an industrial and crime-ridden hellhole, responsible for large scale ship manufacturing including Star Destroyers meant for the Imperial Navy. It's also home to a very large Imperial presence.
Han's gold dice (or chance cubes as they're known in-universe) first appeared in A New Hope, then seemingly disappeared until the release of The Last Jedi. Those dice play a small role in Solo, acting as a good luck charm for both Han and Qi'ra, and showing how she never actually stopped thinking about him in the three years since they were separated.
The Thermal Detonator
When brought before Lady Proxima to explain why he didn't have her money, Han attempts to bluff his way out of the situation using what he claims is a thermal detonator - much like Leia/Boussh in Return of the Jedi. Only difference was that Han only had a rock, and the activation noise was simply him making a clicking sound with his mouth.
The Solo Name
Han has always been Han, but he never 'earned' the Solo name until he tried to join the Imperial Navy - revealing he didn't actually have a surname. Presumably this is what Disney CEO Bob Iger meant when he said the film would feature Han earning his name.
Kicked Out of the Academy
Han reveals during the film that he was kicked out of the Imperial Naval Academy for "having a mind of his own", which is his own way of explaining that he wasn't able to follow orders. The same happened in the Legends canon, though here Han was expelled after preventing some Imperial officers from mistreating a Wookiee slave - which is how he met Chewbacca.
How Hanny Met Chewie
Speaking of which, the manner in which Han and Chewie meet is quite different. Because he was outed as a would-be deserter, stormtroopers through Han into a cage with "the beast" - better known as a hungry (and muddy) Wookiee. It's here Han reveals he can speak some Shyriiwook, which he uses to convince Chewie to help them both escape. In the Legends Han could speak (or at least understand) the language because he was partially raised by a Wookiee woman who was serving as cook on a ship used by thieves who had taken Han in.
We know that somewhere along the way Chewie ends up owing Han a life debt, which came about thanks to the smuggler saving the Wookiee from his enslavement. It's not mentioned as such in the film, but Chewie's refusal to leave Han on Kessel is likely the same reason. It's just not clear which part of the story is responsible for the life debt, as it's never mentioned, while Han saves Chewie multiple times in the second act. Though it's worth mentioning Chewie does his fair share of saving Han's arse.
Rio the Ardennian
Rio, the miniature multi-armed alien, referred to as an Ardennian, is voiced by none other than Jon Favreau. The same Jon Favreau who directed the first two Iron Man films, played Happy Hogan in the MCU, and is set to produce Disney's upcoming live-action Star Wars TV series.
Rio's Mudtrooper disguise is also a hint at the Empire's anti-alien bias, which was carried over from Legends. According to Thrawn while the Emperor himself had no issue with aliens, many Imperials do due to the fact most of the Separatist-supporting systems in the Clone Wars were populated by non-humans. Hence why we never see any alien stormtroopers, even though they're all conscripts, and why Rio has to disguise himself.
When Val chastises Beckett for bringing Hand and Chewie along, sue to them being amateurs, she mentions a couple of alternatives they could have called on - including the bounty hunter Bossk, better known as the lizard man from The Empire Strikes Back.
Rio mentions that he enjoys a good mynock roast, referencing the ship-eating flying creatures that were seen inside the giant worm in The Empire Strikes Back.
Head of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, Dryden Vos seems to have some Mandalorian heritage due to the fact he has a suit of crimson armour in his office. While others have been accused of stealing the armour in the past (Jango Fett was referred to as a "common bounty hunter" and not a Mandalorian), it's possible that the armour belongs to Vos. Especially since the Crimson Dawn's true leader has a history with the Mandalorian people.
The paradise planet Scariff, which has a central role in Rogue One, is mentioned by Qi'ra as one of the places they could refine coaxiam. It's noted as being impossible to take the raw compound there, seeing as how it's one of the most safeguarded Imperial strongholds in the galaxy.
Director Ron Howard is well known for adding small cameos for his brother Clint, and Solo is no exception. Here Clint plays the proprietor of the 'Droid Wars' (trademark me, 2018) fights, which L3 was adamantly protesting. Given Clint's extensive work in Star Trek it also means he can be added to the fast-growing list of actors to star in both franchises.
The Star Wars version of poker, which has long been confirmed as the game Han used to beat Lando and win himself the Millennium Falcon. While Lando seems a bit resentful that Han won the ship off him in Empire, Han insists he won it fair and square. The same can't be said for Lando, who initially beats Han by beaing a dirty cheater. It's also revealed that Sabaac is how Lando won the ship in the first place.
One of the things you might have missed in Rogue One, and may miss again in Solo are 'the decraniated' - people who have had the majority of their heads removed in order to turn them into slaves. In case you didn't see it, Dryden Vos has one serving him in his office.
Not much is known about them since they're not acknowledged on screen, but thanks to the Rogue One: Ultimate Visual Guide we know what they are, and the fact that they're the work of the rogue surgeon Dr Cornelius Evazan - better known as 'Pig Nose', the man who picks a fight with Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina and promptly gets his arm cut off.
Solo finally takes us to Kessel, home of one of the galaxy's largest spice mines (a substance that can be refined and used to manufacture narcotics) and one of the few places where you can mine raw coaxium. Like the Legends canon the mines are worked by slaves, though they're mentioned to be operated by the Pyke Syndicate rather than the Empire. Kessel is also shown as more hospitable in Solo, and despite the cloudy atmosphere it is mostly breathable. In the old EU anyone outside the mines needed special breathing apparatus, though they could survive outside without some sort of pressurised suit.
Kessel is also at the end of the Kessel run, which Han proudly brags about doing in 12 parsecs. We see that happen in the film, though it's implied he's exaggerating a bit after telling Chewie it's 12 parsecs if you round down. That still suggests it's less than the 14 parsecs claimed by Rey in The Force Awakens, however. It's also significantly faster than the 20 parsecs Lando claims is the bare minimum.
The Maelstrom and The Maw
The reason the Kessel Run is measured in distance, rather than time, is because of the inhospitable environments surrounding the planet. In the Legends canon the planet was surrounded by clusters of black holes known as The Maw - making it a treacherous place to be. In Solo it's just as dangerous to travel to the planet, though the conditions are changed a bit. The planet is surrounded by what's referred to as a maelstrom, which looks a lot like a lightning storm in space.
The Maelstrom houses all sorts of nasty things like dead planets, giant space creatures, and the Maw. Rather than being a cluster of black holes, the Maw is a single black hole-type object described by Lando as a gravity well. In universe a gravity well is simply a term for any object with a significant gravitational pull - which includes planets.
The Maw is clearly no ordinary gravity well. The empire were also able to generate artificial gravity wells to prevent ships from jumping to hyperspace, something they couldn't track at the time.
The Man Who Killed Aurra Sing
If you've never seen The Clone Wars you'll be forgiven for not knowing who Aurra Sing is. She's a bounty hunter that made a brief appearance in The Phantom Menace and later had a key role in The Clone Wars by teaming up with (and training) Boba Fett. Lando reveals that Beckett actually killed Sing, pushing her to her death.
Chewie is a Bad Loser
Beckett introduces Chewbacca to Dejarik, the same holochess game he'd later play with C-3PO and R2-D2. It's revealed here why Han suggested they let the wookiee win, because he's a pretty bad loser. While he doesn't rip Beckett's arms off, he does try and knock the holographic pieces off the table - with limited success.
We do get to see Chewie rip off some arms, though, sort of. We don't actually see it happen, but we do see the aftermath. it's nice to finally see some full-on Wookiee violence.
The Trade Federation
While bluffing her way into the Kessel mine's control room, Qi'ra claims to be an associate of the viceroy of the Trade Federation - the organisation that played a key part in the prequels. It's not the same viceroy, though, seeing as how he was slaughtered by Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar.
Beckett and Lando Have Similar Taste
While masquerading as Qi'ra's security detail, beckett can be seen wearing the same disguise Lando wore inside Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi.
The Millennium Falcon
The Falcon has a few aesthetic changes, which were inspired by original concept art of the ship by the legendary Ralph McQuarrie. Han points this out, noting that Lando made quite a few upgrades to the ship - including an escape pod that fits between the ship's front mandibles. We later see various amounts of damage being done to the ship, which would eventually be crudely repaired by Han and Chewie into the ship we know from the original trilogy. That includes ditching the escape pod, losing the shield dish (again), various amounts of damage to the outer hull, and losing the single-barrel turrets.
Han also refers to the ship as its proper class, the Corellian YT-1300 freighter - revealing that his father used to build them before being laid off. The smuggling holes also make an appearance, housing the coaxium during the Kessel escape.
We also see that Lando parked the ship inside a literal junkyard, which is fitting for a ship that's often referred to as "a piece of junk".
It wouldn't be Star Wars if the Falcon didn't have some sort of engine trouble, which almost ruins their attempt to escape the Maw.
The only man to have appeared in all ten Star Wars films is Anthony Daniels, better known as C-3PO. 3PO doesn't appear in Solo, though it's been confirmed that Daniels plays one of the liberated Wookiee slaves - presumably the one that actually gets some facetime with Chewbacca.
One of the liberated droids inside the Kessel control room sounds an awful lt like Daniels too, simply saying "freedom" as he releases the slaves from their chains.
The Origin of the Falcon's Peculiar Computer
After L3 is shot and virtually destroyed on Kessel, Lando ends up plugging her consciousness into the Falcon and making her (and her navi computer) part of the ship. This proves to be the origin of some comments made by C-3PO in The Empire Strikes Back where he says:
"I don't know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect."
Now we know why. It's because it's part of a peculiar droid.
The Last Jedi's official novelisation also confirms that the ship's computer is made up of three distinct "cannibalised" droid brains, of which L3 is presumably one.
Good Feelings All Round
Rather than claiming there's a bad feeling, Solo flips things on their head by claiming he has a good feeling about his trip through the Maelstrom. Clearly Han isn't very tuned into the force, otherwise he would have known taking an uncharted route was a very bad idea.
The Rebel Alliance
While we don't know exactly where Solo is in the Star Wars timeline (other than the fact it's more than two years before A New Hope) but it's revealed that Enfys Nest is no mere pirate. She and her crew are actually rebels, and it's hinted they have ties to the greater Rebel Alliance that features so prominently in other films and the Rebels TV series.
Warwick Davis is a long-standing member of the Star Wars cast, having appeared in six official films, both crappy Ewok spin-offs, and an episode of Rebels. In Solo he plays a member of Enfys Nest's crew - and this time he actually has some proper lines.
Jabba the Hutt
The Hutt cartel is mentioned early on by Qi'ra, with the implication that the syndicate was involved in the slave trade - something that seems likely given the number of slaves owned by Jabba the Hutt. Jabba himself is later referred to as some big shot gangster on Tattooine by Beckett. Beckett mentions Jabba is looking to put together a crew, which is what sends Han on the path to Tattooine and eventually the debt he owes the giant slug.
While the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate is completely new, and seemingly created for Solo, like many aspects of Disney's new canon it's not without its influences. For example the group's name shares a similarity with the Black Sun, an organisation that first made its debut in Shadows of the Empire. While Black Sun does exist in the new canon, thanks to Clone Wars, it's clear there's some sort of link there.
Given Darth Maul's role as leader of the organisation, it seems likely that Crimson Dawn also spun out of the Shadow Collective - a criminal organisation Maul founded on behalf of his mother, the Dathormirian witch Mother Talzin during the Clone Wars. During the war the Shadow Collective had extensive ties to the Hutt Clans, the Pyke syndicate, Mandalorian rebels Death Watch, and of course the Black Sun. Given Dryden Vos mentioned there are five key criminal syndicates in the galaxy (with Pyke and the Hutts mentioned by name), it's not unlikely that Crimson Dawn replaced or spun out of Maul's previous endeavour.
Further proving that Lucasfilm isn't going to shy away from the fact Star Wars exists in other forms of media, unlike Marvel, it's revealed at the end of the film that Dryden Vos answers to one man - the true leader of the Crimson Dawn Darth Maul. Maul was last seen on the big screen at the end of The Phantom Menace where he was seemingly killed by Obi Wan, though it was later revealed he had survived - albeit driven completely mad and living on a garbage planet. His mind was eventually restored, and Maul was outfitted with a pair of robotic legs, surviving beyond the Clone Wars and well into the reign of the Empire.
Maul tells Qi'ra to meet him on Dathomir, the planet of his birth, which Rebels confirmed was where he made his home at some point following the end of the Clone Wars. The rest of the planet was deserted, thanks to General Grievous and the Separatists wiping out its inhabitants in retaliation for an attempt on Count Dooku's life.
While this could be a link to the Obi Wan spin off film that's been rumoured for years, it seems unlikely that the two would meet on the big screen. We've discussed before that this particular story has already been told.
Maul himself was originally played by Ray Park and voiced by Peter Serafinowicz. Park reprises his role in Solo, but the voice duties fell to Sam Witwer - the same actor who played Maul in The Clone Wars, Rebels, and various video games.