“She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.”
That’s how Han Solo attempted to ease the mind on unimpressed Luke Skywalker when the Tatooine farmboy first laid eyes on the Millennium Falcon. But once upon a time — a long time ago — the Corellian freighter did look pretty fine.
So what are these “special modifications”? The answer is going to come in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which has already shown us a version of the iconic starship that is so sleek that some have naturally wondered: Is it the same vehicle?
It definitely is. Give or take.
What we’re seeing in director Ron Howard’s movie with the blue and white design and glossy interior is how the ship existed in the hands of Lando Calrissian before he lost it to Han Solo in a game of sabacc.
As The Star Wars Show pointed out last week, this look was partly inspired by the early visual development designs of legendary galactic concept artist Ralph McQuarrie.
But storywise, there’s something odd about the Falcon. It changes. Like a living thing. And those differences tend to reflect its current occupant. But those alterations, the “special modifications,” aren’t just cosmetic — they have an explanation, or a deliberate reason for being.
“Where Han gave it a certain shabby coolness and a dinged up quality that reflected where he was at that point in his life, this Falcon reflects its owner very clearly in its shape and aesthetic and his needs, even if those needs be a little more space to entertain,” says Jon Kasdan (writer-director of The First Time) who wrote the Solo screenplay with his father, Lawrence Kasdan (veteran co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens.)
“One of the things Larry and I had talked about was the Falcon should always reflect the personality of its captain,” he adds.
So Donald Glover’s Lando uses it not just to ferry goods, but as a floating party vessel. Sounds about right.
Alden Ehrenreich, who is taking over the smuggler role from Harrison Ford, says there’s more going on than neglect when it comes to the grimy interior and exposed panels we see in Han Solo’s later incarnation of the Falcon.
Maybe Han has his reasons for that. A kind of galactic camouflage.
“It’s safer in the galaxy to fly something that looks like a piece of junk. People underestimate you — especially if you’re up to no good,” the actor tells EW. “Kinda like how you’re more likely to get pulled over if you’re driving a Lamborghini.”
Han may also be having it travel down more dangerous paths than Lando ever did. The famed Kessell Run, which Han boasted about crossing in 12 parsecs, is pocked with black holes. And in the trailer we see the vessel contending with giant, electrified tentacles in a nebula.
No wonder the new Hasbro toy version of this movie’s Millennium Falcon has break-away panels, revealing the raw, greeble-covered surface beneath.
As for that different silhouette, and why it has the more tapered nose instead of the forked mandibles… It would be a spoiler to reveal exactly how that happens. But those claiming the different appearance violates Star Wars canon are mistaken.
Those mandibles were always meant to hold something, and it’s clear there’s a section of the new Hasbro toy that can be removed, perhaps a detachable storage container. We’ll see what becomes of that as the May 25 film unfolds.
Any fan who has ever owned a Star Wars toy knows this simple fact: pieces get lost. The Falcon we’ve known all this time is far from mint in the box.
What’s more interesting is how the Falcon will continue to evolve in the future. We’re seeing it in the distant past, several years before the events of the original 1977 Star Wars, but the Falcon’s history goes back much further than Han Solo — just as it will continue beyond him in the new saga.
“Remember, when the Falcon enters our movie, it’s already had a long life. Decades of existence. And it’s been modified even from its original design,” says Jon Kasdan. “What we tried to do with the whole movie was take things that we take for granted and love and turn them on their ear.”
There’s one more correlation to real life. If you’ve ever owned a new car, you know the anxiety that precedes its first dent or scratch. After that, you can relax.
Maybe the banged up, dingy Falcon isn’t just a sign of Han Solo’s reckless flyboy style, but evidence of the battle scars that allow him to be a little more fearless with his battered but beloved starship as he pilots it into harm’s way.