When Disney announced in 2015 that they would be continuing George Lucas' plan for a Han Solo prequel, it looked like easy money on paper. Everyone loves Han Solo. What the plan didn't account for was a series of blows such as evolving tastes in the tales audiences want from a galaxy far, far away and behind-the-scenes drama that overshadowed any residual excitement fans may have had. The result? The least-profitable Star Wars film to date, even without adjusting for inflation.
The message is loud and clear and yet a a subsection of the Star Wars fandom is overlooking the message: Fans are likely bored with white, male status quo. Luckily, Solo makes a fantastic backdoor pilot for a spin-off franchise. One about a compelling yet underutilized new character of the film, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke).
By the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Han's (Alden Ehrenreich) narrative arc is neatly wrapped up. Unless Lucasfilm thinks audiences want to watch Han butter Jabba the Hutt up only to drop his cargo at the first sign of Imperial cruisers, there's not a lot of story left to tell. Qi'ra, on the other hand, moves into position late in Solo as the next potential leader of Crimson Dawn, one of the biggest and most terrifying crime syndicates in the galaxy.
In order to understand how Qi'ra could become a lynchpin in the third faction of the Star Wars universe (the other two being the Republic and the Empire), Darth Maul's history is key. If you hadn't kept up with Star Wars outside the films, the reappearance of the former Sith apprentice was out of left field. For those with even a passing knowledge of the animated shows The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels, it was a long-awaited return to form.
Some quick background on how Maul got here: After being sliced in half by Obi-Wan, Maul fell to his not-death and was transported to the trash world of Lotho Minor where he slowly went insane while creating cybernetic spider legs out of garbage. He later escaped with the help of his brother (long story), regained his sanity and got robot legs. From there Maul went on to use cold calculation and murder to bring the disparate crime families to heel until all feared the Crimson Dawn. Since he was supposed to be dead, Maul brought in Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) to be the face of the organization. This gets us right up to Qi'ra declaring her hesitant allegiance to Maul at the end of Solo.
But the story doesn't end there. By Rebels, which takes place around five years after the end of Solo, Maul becomes trapped on the Sith planet of Malachor for years with no communication with the outside world. Soon after the cast of Rebels helps him escape, Maul would find himself dead at the hands of his old nemesis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, on the planet Tatooine. But just because a crime lord dies or disappears doesn't mean the organization falls. Whether he meant to or not, Maul prepared Qi'ra to be a successor. Based on the sketchy way Maul found himself on Malachor, the Corellian orphan may have even given herself a promotion.
Armed with decades of fighting for her life and knowledge of the Jedi-defeating martial art known as Teras Kasi, Qi'ra is uniquely positioned to take over the Crimson Dawn in the wake of Maul's disappearance and death. She's shown herself to be painfully pragmatic and ruthless. She's a survivor first, one who now has deep ties to other aspects of Star Wars lore. While it might be tempting for Lucasfilm to kill her off in some misguided notion that Leia needs "protection" from Han's first love continuing to exist, it would be such as waste.
For example, as the leader of the Crimson Dawn, Qi'ra would be owed fealty by none other than Jabba the Hutt himself. Perhaps out of fond memories, Qi'ra reached out via a surrogate to help Luke Skywalker formulate a plan to free her former beau...and take out a threat like Jabba, after which Qi'ra could install her own puppet leader. Given her own film, Disney could introduce both Sana Starros and Dr. Aphra to the live-action universe, perhaps hired to run a job for the Crimson Dawn that goes sideways...because the job always goes sideways.
Want another one? Let's dig deep into the crazy fan theories and pull out the "Qi'ra is Rey's mom" nugget. Let's say Han and Leia are on the outs when Qi'ra reappears in Han's life. He discovers she's partially responsible for saving him from Jabba and they rekindle their romance briefly. Qi'ra becomes pregnant but doesn't tell Han. She raises Rey until some catalyst in the galactic underworld forces Qi'ra to put Rey in hiding for her own safety. As an ace-in-the-hole, Qi'ra hires several henchmen to play a shell game with the Millennium Falcon so it ends up on Jakku. The logic being: Han would come eventually and find Rey should the worst happen. Qi'ra calls in a favor to get Unkar Plutt to watch young Rey. Then, for whatever reason, the money stops coming in and Plutt kicks Rey to the curb.
Of course, these are merely suggestions. But Solo: A Star Wars Story tees Qi'ra up for a lifetime of adventure and anguish and it would be a damn shame not to see it play out on the big screen.
Image Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm
More from Solo!
- Star Wars needs more women behind-the-scenes.
- Why the Darth Maul cameo is bigger than you think.
- 7 movies to watch after you've seen Solo.