Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Solo: A Star Wars Story changed a lot about Han Solo's backstory, but one of the biggest changes was how the infamous smuggler met Chewbacca. Ron Howard's 2018 Star Wars film, which is based on a script from screenwriters Jon Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan, aims to tell the definitive origin story of the galaxy's most beloved smuggler-turned-Rebellion hero, Han Solo. Among the many things the film does, such as provide an origin for Han's last name, Solo: A Star Wars Story reveals exactly how he and Chewie had first met.
It's revealed in the Legends side of the Star Wars saga that Han Solo had met Chewbacca while in the Imperial Navy. After the Imperials captured Chewie from a slave ship (which Han refused to destroy as a TIE pilot), the Imperial officer Peter Nyklas would constantly beat Chewie regardless of anything the Wookiee did. One day, Nyklas went too far and was on the verge of killing Chewbacca. That's when Han stepped in and stunned his commanding officer, thus saving Chewie's life. According to A.C. Crispin's The Hutt Gambit - the second novel in Crispin's The Han Solo Trilogy - Han Solo believes that the reason he saved Chewie from being whipped to death was that he owed another Wookiee named Dewlanna a debt for saving his life from under Garris Shrike's control. While Han does save Chewie in Solo: A Star Wars Story, it doesn't really happen in the same way.
Related: When Is Solo Set & How Old Is Han?
In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Han Solo enlists in the Imperial Academy but is kicked out for one too many transgressions. He eventually finds himself as an infantryman at Camp Forward on Mimban, where the Empire is conducting an invasion against the Mimbanese population - and that's where he meets Chewbacca. After his attempt to notify his superiors about Tobias Beckett's real identity backfires on him, Han is thrown into a pit in which a "Beast" lives and hasn't been fed in a couple days. That beast turns out to be Chewbacca, who seemingly attempts to kill Han. That's when Han speaks Shyriiwook for the first time and tells Chewie that they could help each other escape, which becomes the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.
It's not explicitly mentioned in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but supplemental material for the movie reveals that Chewbacca had been traveling the galaxy in an attempt to free any and all Wookiees from slave labor, something that he actually does while on the planet of Kessel in Ron Howard's film. Unfortunately, at one point prior to the film's story, Chewbacca was betrayed by a bounty hunter and was subsequently captured by the Empire. But, since the Imperial officers on Mimban didn't have the time or resources to send Chewbacca back to his homeworld of Kashyyyk, they opted to imprison him in an abandoned ammunition chamber instead, which is where he meets Han Solo for the first time when Han is also imprisoned.
While the crux of how Han Solo and Chewbacca meet remains the same - that Han helps free Chewbacca - Solo: A Star Wars Story's version of the tale differs in a big way: Han never actually saved Chewbacca's life in that pit. Sure, he helped save Chewie from hitting a rock while stealing Coaxium on Vandor, but were the combination of the two (both of which required Chewie's assistance in them surviving/winning) enough for Chewie to swear a life debt to Han Solo? There's still more to this story that needs answering; perhaps audiences will find out more in Solo: A Star Wars Story 2... if a sequel happens.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019