Lando's Lavish Exterior Is Stripped Away
Over the course of Solo, almost all of Lando's hard work is stripped away. Sometimes it's overt - the single gun turret is damaged, the sensor dish is lost. Other times, though, it's more subtle. By the end of Solo, the Falcon's exterior is actually shabbier than ever before, with all the plating torn away during firefights and crash-landings. The Falcon even loses its landing pads when Han pulls one particularly insane maneuver.
But there's a sense in which this makes the Falcon even more attractive to Han. He has a chance to start from scratch, and adapt the Falcon to suit his own desires. Some things he'll replace, some things he'll upgrade, and others he'll simply ignore. He can truly turn the Millennium Falcon into the ship he wants to call home.
Why Doesn't Han Replace The Falcon's Features?
There's a neat parallel with one of the official Star Wars novels, Rae Carson's Most Wanted. Set shortly before the events of Solo, this novel sees Han steal a speeder that's been modified to be as flashy as possible. Han views these modifications with disdain; in his view, a speeder is made to go fast, nothing more and nothing less. In exactly the same way, he'd consider many of Lando's more ostentatious elements as unnecessary. That exterior plating wouldn't be needed, a smaller sensor dish is less likely to be lost again, and why would Han bother to spend credits on paintwork? That probably explains why the retractable shielding over the exhausts hasn't been replaced, too.
Better weapons, though, would be an absolute must. Lando is more of a lover than a fighter, and as a result his Falcon only had the single gun turret. As Lucasfilm design supervisor James Clyne noted, "Han's like, 'I've got to get a little more up here, I'm getting chased more these days.'" No wonder Han had two quad turrets installed. Most interestingly, Han also added a concussive missile launcher up front where Lando's escape pod should be.
It's fascinating that Han prioritized installing those concussive missile launchers over replacing the escape pod. This is a statement of love on his part, a declaration of how much he cares about his ship. Like any good captain, he'll go down with the Falcon rather than desert her. It's true that the Falcon did have an escape pod at the rear by The Force Awakens, but there's no evidence that existed during the Original Trilogy, so it was presumably added at a time when Han had far more to lose.
All this isn't to say Han didn't install some new systems. Prioritizing speed, Han may well have had the engines customized to make the Falcon run more efficiently. While Han's not averse to a fight, his preferred course of action in the face of overwhelming force is to cut and run. Notice that, in A New Hope, it's the Falcon's speed Han chooses to brag about.
Underestimating the Falcon
But why would Han ultimately allow the Falcon to look so shabby? Partly it may be that credits were hard to come by, and he simply had to choose repairing the engines to getting the paintwork done. But Alden Ehrenreich has suggested another reason. "It’s safer in the galaxy to fly something that looks like a piece of junk," he explained in an interview. "People underestimate you — especially if you’re up to no good. Kinda like how you’re more likely to get pulled over if you’re driving a Lamborghini."
Lando is a showman; he wanted to be seen, and so he maintained the Falcon's exterior with loving care, doing everything within his power to create an impression. In contrast, Han is a smuggler, a man who prefers to be underestimated. If people think the Falcon is just a hunk of junk, they won't expect her to pack a quad turret or to pull off a surprising turn of speed. It's actually in Han's interest to make the Falcon look pretty decrepit, just so she can take people by surprise.
By the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, all exterior trace of Lando's ownership has gone. Han is left with a tabula rasa, a clean slate to work on. He and Chewie are both tinkerers; Han cobbled together that speeder at the beginning of the film himself. As a result, Han revels in the opportunity to recreate the Falcon as the ship he believes she needs to be.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019