Everything you thought you knew about Star Wars is wrong, or at least, this one thing is. According to Disney’s president Bob Iger, Han Solo was born with a different name.
In news that’ll cause ructions in the fandom, in a discussion about next year’s as-yet-unnamed Han Solo origin movie at the University of Southern California, Iger let it slip that the audience “will also discover how he got his name”. He didn’t elaborate, but it certainly sounds as though everyone’s favourite reluctant hero will turn out not quite to be who he says he is.
Slated for release in May 2018, the film will see Alden Ehrenreich take the character’s reins from Harrison Ford, in a story that will apparently follow “Han” between the ages of 18 and 24. As you’d expect, it’ll reveal a few other things, “like acquiring a certain vehicle and meeting a certain Wookiee”.
We don’t know much more about it, but the cast also includes Woody Harrelson as Han’s mentor Beckett and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, as well as Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, and, weirdly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the British actress best known for the recent BBC black comedy Fleabag.
It’s unclear what George Lucas thinks about this new development, because we couldn’t track down his home phone number. However, he hasn’t been unreserved with his praise for what Disney has done with his franchise baby since he sold it to them for $4 billion in 2012.
He was forced to apologise to the company after he joked in an interview that he’d sold his children to “white slavers”, and asked what he thought about 2015’s Episode VII, he offered the following masterclass in backhanded compliments: “I think the fans are going to love it. It’s very much the kind of movie they’ve been looking for.”
As well as his Han Solo bombshells, Iger also told the audience that after Episode IX is released in May 2019, fans can look forward to “what could be another decade and a half of Star Wars stories”. This might well include more spin-offs; there’s already a film following the bounty hunter Boba Fett in development, and, well, it’s a big galaxy out there.
Finally, he discussed the passing of Carrie Fisher, who has a much larger role in this year’s Episode VIII. Though she died after shooting wrapped, Princess Leia was due to feature heavily in the concluding episode. And though a digital version of the long-dead Peter Cushing was in last year’s Rogue One spin-off, Iger has ruled out using CGI for Fisher’s character.
“When we bought Lucasfilm, we were going to make three films, Episodes VII, VIII and IX. We had to deal tragedy at the end of 2016,” he said. “Carrie appears throughout VIII. We are not changing VIII to deal with her passing. Her performance remains as it is in VIII. In Rogue One, we had some digital characters. We are not doing that with Carrie."