It seems likely Solo: A Star Wars Story lost a canon connection due to the project's substantial reshoots. After original directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller were fired four months into filming due to creative differences with Lucasfilm, Oscar-winner Ron Howard replaced them and attempted to right the ship. He essentially oversaw a second wave of principal photography, as his work on Solo encompasses between 70 - 80 percent of the finished film. This meant a substantial amount of the movie was redone, and some changes had to be made.
The most substantial alteration to Solo in the wake of production difficulties was the role of crime boss Dryden Vos being recast. Originally, Michael K. Williams played the part, but he was unable to make it back for the reshoots. Instead, Howard texted his old friend Paul Bettany and the actor signed on. Besides that, there was something else about Dryden that needed to be changed: his species.
Related: Solo Cast and Character Guide
As one can see in Solo trailer and TV spots, Vos is a near-human with markings on his face. When Williams was in place, the idea was for Dryden to be a motion-capture alien that the actor described as "half mountain lion, half human." While it's unfortunate we won't get to see that onscreen, it's possible the Star Wars comics give us an idea of what the original Dryden Vos would have looked like. Pointed out by SWNN's James Baney, Williams' Dryden could have been from the same species as Dorae, a character from the Han Solo comics.
If one is wondering why this change was made, it's most likely a matter of logistics. Post-production work on CGI characters is very extensive, and even the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic may not have had enough time to make the mountain lion alien look just right. The crew probably deemed it would be easier if Dryden was retooled to be an actor in regular prosthetics and costume. Filming on Solo was supposed to wrap in July 2017, but the upheaval at the end extended production until October of last year. It's true the film was being edited while Howard was shooting, but the truncated schedule (Lucasfilm wanted to maintain the May 2018 release date) meant there wasn't as much time to complete Solo as hoped. Animating a sophisticated mountain lion/human hybrid would have been a grueling task for the team. Since there wasn't a need for Dryden to be this species, it was simple enough to change.
Die-hard Star Wars canon junkies may be upset by this development, but a movie like Solo is no doubt going to be full of references to the lore and mythology. Every franchise entry these days have a plethora of Easter eggs for fans to spot, and Solo has already teased a few of its own in marketing. There's always a fear that films such as Solo will overdo it in the fan service department, so perhaps cutting out one more nod is actually for the best. Perhaps a future movie will make use of this particular alien, and possibly Williams to boot.
Source: James Baney
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019