When you get outside of the main Skywalker Saga in Star Wars, you lose a little something. In fact you even lose a little something when you look at The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. This isn’t because they – and Solo and Rogue One – aren’t good movies. They are just outside of the main narrative that was started and completed by George Lucas in Episodes 1-6.
Lucas had a specific vision for the tragedy of the life of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader that he was able to carry out himself. They weren’t all good movies. In fact, a couple of them are bad movies. But they all came from the same mind who had a very specific idea about the story he wanted to tell and the themes he wanted to convey.
So because of this, the two Star Wars Stories to be released in theaters – specifically Solo – seem quite detached from the rest of the big screen Star Wars episodes. They’re perfectly fine movies that expand the universe, but they aren’t as thematically rich as the rest of the films. There is just something that is missing from them in that regard.
But even so, they each have their own thing to say and their own message to get across.
Finding Your Place
The whole point behind the character of Han Solo is that he’s a loner, save for the small groups of people that he actually lets in. In this movie, his whole motivation is to get back to Qi’ra, because she is the only person he has ever really been close to (more on her later). But once they become split up, Han goes three years before he sees her again.
During these three years, he is trying to find his place in the world. He wants to figure out where he fits in and belongs. All that he wants to do is to be a pilot – to be free to choose his own destiny. But that isn’t really an option for him at this point. In fact, he is so much of a loner that he is named after that fact. He is Han Solo. As in, he is alone.
Now, this may be enraging to some fans, and downright dumb to others, but it serves a purpose. It highlights the biggest character trait of Han, which he eventually will overcome by Return of the Jedi.
Han just floats around and doesn’t glean much from his existence. He’s searching for purpose and doesn’t actually find that until he is a part of something bigger than himself. Eventually, that will manifest itself as the Rebellion, but in this film, it is something simpler. In a way, it is also more beautiful and relatable than a rebellion against an evil intergalactic empire. Finding a group of people that he can call a family is what really gives him a purpose in this film.
When Han first meets Chewie, Rio, Beckett, and Val, he is still alone. But after hearing Chewie’s story, he realizes that he may have found something worth living for in this small ragtag group of people. When he tells the group that he doesn’t know if Chewie just said family or tribe, Beckett says, “What’s the difference?”
This quote sums up this theme nicely. A lot of times, our family isn’t the people that we’re related to, but rather the people that we choose to place importance upon in our lives. Han chooses to stick with Chewie for the rest of his life because of the bond that the two of them share. They’re both loners who found each other and can relate in that way, which is beautiful and touching.
Everybody needs other people in their lives. It’s what makes everything worth it. For Han, he thought that would be Chewie and the rest of the crew. But he learned the hard way how difficult it is to find someone who really is your family. Qi’ra ended up being untrustworthy, and so did Beckett. But Chewbacca stuck with him no matter what until the end.
Trust / Change
As I mentioned earlier, Han’s whole drive after he was separated from Qi’ra was to be reunited with her. What he didn’t take into account, though, is the way people change. Once the two of them are reunited, Han is ecstatic and ready to resume their relationship exactly the way it was. But Qi’ra had other plans because of the changes her life had gone through.
Beckett tells Han not to trust anyone, but he doesn’t have a chance to put that into practice until the end of the movie. He thinks he can trust Beckett and Qi’ra, but they turn out to be only in it for themselves. There is no worse way than this to break someone’s hope in the people around him.
This is why Chewbacca is so important to the character of Han. Chewie provides that much needed familial presence, and the most significant source of trust and familiarity until a young Skywalker comes along…