Han Solo and Chewbacca in 'Solo: A Star Wars Story"

I Wasn’t Annoyed by the Part of Han Solo’s Backstory That Annoyed Everyone Else—Here’s What Did Annoy Me

What's in a name?
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There are definitely mixed reactions to Solo: A Star Wars Story. You can go ahead and put me firmly in the “loved it” camp. It wasn’t a perfect movie, but it was enjoyable from beginning to end, and I had a lot of fun. There seems to be one element of the plot in particular that sticks in people’s craws in a way that hasn’t stuck in mine.  [SPOILERS AHOY!]

In Solo, we learn the origin of Han Solo’s surname and many fans were not thrilled about it. As it turns out, while Han is trying to escape Corellia by becoming a pilot in the Imperial fleet, he is asked for his name. “Han,” he says. And when asked for his surname, he says that he has no people (and no last name) and that he’s traveling alone. So the guard types in “solo” after his first name.

And there you have it.

The fan reaction looked a little something like this:

And of course, there were the inevitable jokes:

Personally, I loved how Han got his name, and actually thought it not only touching in and of itself, but really well played by Ehrenreich in the role, for the reasons that co-screenwriter (and Star Wars guru) Lawrence Kasdan cites in a recent interview.

When speaking with Cinema Blend, Kasdan explains that this very plot point was what sold the powers that be on the film in the first place when he pitched it:

“Five years ago, when I came onto the thing – and Disney wasn’t on when I came on, then three weeks later, they owned the company – and they came up to Marin [California] and Kathy [Kennedy] and got the people who were already working on it to make a five-minute presentation to Bob Iger and Alan Horn and everyone. My presentation was, [Han] comes to an immigration spot and someone asks, ‘What’s your name?’

“It’s not just that he doesn’t have a name, which tells you a lot about his history. He says ‘I have no people.’ That to me is so forlorn and so isolating and rife, and the guy fills in his name. Bob Iger said ‘Alright, I’m in.’ That was it. That was the moment.”

When I saw the film, that was exactly how I responded to that moment. Not only the way he says “I have no people,” which is, indeed, so emotional, but knowing the fact that he not only keeps that name, but passes it down, owning that lack of a known family as his identity and as part of the family he ends up building. That’s huge. That’s who Han is. A completely self-made, self-invented person.

The way my nerd brain works, though, I immediately started thinking about the etymological implications of this and I would love any insights into this from any word nerds in the house! I thought, ‘Solo’ meaning ‘alone’ comes from Latin-based languages like Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. But if we’re not hearing ‘English,’ but ‘Galactic Basic,’ is there a Galactic equivalent of Latin? If not, does this pun even work if there’s no Latin/Spanish/Italian in the Star Wars universe?’

THESE are the important questions, friends. But those questions only made me enjoy the film even more!

Now, here’s the name-related plot element that bugged me. When Han meets Chewbacca and learns his name for the first time, he says something like “Chewbacca? You’re going to need a nickname, because I’m not going to say all that.”

‘Cause we all know he calls him ‘Chewie,’ right? Hahahahahahaaha…. um.

THAT, to me, was the most asinine line in the whole thing. 1) Because Chewbacca is not actually that long a name. It’s three goddamn syllables, 2) You don’t just announce the need for a nickname! Nicknames are way more organic than that, and 3) Going from Chewbacca to Chewie isn’t a process that requires this huge leap to understand. Chewie is literally what anyone who knows Chewbacca for any length of time might call him.

So if people think Han’s surname backstory is “unnecessary,” the need to have him be the kind of person who can’t/won’t say “Chewbacca” is even moreso.

Names are important to a certain degree. Sometimes, like in the case of the surname “Solo,” they can be purposeful and come with a wealth of character information. Other time, like in the case of “Chewie,” they’re….just a name. (Or, a nickname) Here’s to not placing an undue burden on character names by knowing which is which.

(via Express, image: Lucasfilm/Disney)

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Image of Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.