Brow Beat

A Casual Fan’s Guide to Solo’s Most Obscure Star Wars References

Chewbacca, Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, and Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, aboard the Millennium Falcon
Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

This post contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Did you leave the newest Star Wars standalone movie confused about how to play Sabacc? Unsure who, exactly, Aurra Sing is supposed to be? Wondering how Darth Maul, who was last seen in the movies being chopped in half by a lightsaber, survived to make his surprise cameo?

Don’t blame yourself for not understanding every Easter egg! Solo is peppered with references not only to the other Star Wars movies, but also to unusually deep cuts from the animated series, the books, and beyond. Its allusions even reach all the way back into the Expanded Universe (since re-branded as “Star Wars Legends“), the vast collection of Star Wars-related material that is no longer considered part of the official canon.

Sure, you could spend hours pouring over the Jedi archives to try to understand them all—or you could consult this handy guide below.

Bounty Hunters

A lizard-headed man.
Bossk.
Lucasfilm

Val Beckett (Thandie Newton), unhappy with adding amateurs Han and Chewbacca to the team, suggests that their crew should have been better off recruiting the “Zan sisters,” likely a reference to Zan and Zu Pike, characters from Shadows of the Empire. Identical twins who can only be told apart by their eye color, these characters became Legends after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, but the namedrop in Solo should be enough to qualify them as officially canon.

Val’s other dream teammate is Bossk, the Trandoshan bounty hunter first seen in The Empire Strikes Back, though you might know him better as “the lizard dude.” Bossk, like many background characters from the live-action movies, got much more screentime on the animated prequels-era series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where he’s voiced by the great Dee Bradley Baker.

Glee Anselm and the valahorn

Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) says more than once that he plans to retire to Glee Anselm, an ocean planet and the homeworld of the Nautolans. While there, he wants to learn to play the valahorn, a musical instrument first introduced in the online game Star Wars Galaxies. All in all, a pretty tame retirement for a notorious criminal.

Mynock

Rio Durant, the four-armed alien voiced by Jon Favreau, suggests that the “Mynock roasts” on his home planet of Ardennia are not to be missed. Mynocks are blobby-faced, bat-like, parasitic creatures that attach themselves to starships, and they do not look at all appetizing. Rather, they look like this.

Of course, I’m really just making an educated guess that a “Mynock roast” is a meal in the first place. For all we know, it could be, like, a comedy special during which Ardennians crack insulting jokes at the expense of Mynocks.

Dryden Vos’ suit of armor

Among the knickknacks in villain Dryden Vos’ lair, there’s a suit of Mandalorian armor prominently on display. The armor is traditionally worn by those who hail from Mandalore, the Outer Rim planet known for its warrior past. However, it’s most famous in the live-action movies because it’s worn by Boba Fett, who, just to make things confusing, is not from Mandalore.

It’s not clear if Dryden is Mandalorian or if the armor is just a trophy he acquired, but he certainly has many of the traits associated with the planet’s inhabitants, most of whom are blonde, have angular features, and speak with British accents. (Paul Bettany to a tee, basically.) Dryden notably shares a last name with the Jedi Quinlan Vos, but this might be the rare case in the Star Wars galaxy where two strangers with the same name are not actually related: Lucasfilm says it’s just a coincidence.

Aurra Sing

A 3D animated character with chalk-white skin and an antennae sticking out her head. She holds two blaster guns firing red lasers.
Aurra Sing
Lucasfilm

Tobias Beckett’s most notable triumph in his career is the one we don’t see onscreen, although we are briefly told about it: He’s the man who killed Aurra Sing. That notorious bounty hunter and assassin started, like Bossk, as a background character, making a brief appearance in The Phantom Menace before being later developed on The Clone Wars, where she was an associate of a young Boba Fett. Her fate at the end of the series, which was canceled when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, has remained something of a mystery, so this revelation would tie up a loose thread—if it’s true that Beckett really killed her.

Aurra Sing comes equipped with a sniper rifle, a built-in antenna, and a true zest for murder, so pushing her to her death would be no small accomplishment, but Aurra Sing has “died” before and still managed to come back, so I wouldn’t count her out unless and until we see the body.

Sabacc

The card game is famously how Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian, as we see at the end of Solo. It might, at first glance, resemble poker, but the rules are actually more similar to Blackjack, with players trying to accumulate as many points as possible without going over a total of 23.

Here it is as seen in the Leia-centric spinoff novel, Bloodline:

Immediately all the hands went on display. The Loneran’s hand, with a mere sixteen points, was barely worth considering. Both the Toydarian and the other human had nineteen points, however. Leia’s hand showed the Ace of coins and the Ace of sabers—thirty points, well over maximum—but there, glittering the interference field, was the Star, value negative ten.

A fun, litigious aside about Sabacc: Lucasfilm is currently in the middle of a lawsuit with a real company called Ren Ventures over the trademark to the fictional game.

Darth Maul

Ray Park as Darth Maul, with a double-bladed red lightsaber
Lucasfilm

Dryden Vos, despite being a notorious crime lord, tells Beckett, Han, and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) that even he is answerable to higher-ups in the organization, something he gets increasingly agitated about as the movie goes on. After Vos’ death, Qi’ra gets in touch with one of those higher-ups via hologram, and it turns out that Vos was right to be afraid, because his boss is the former Sith lord known as Darth Maul, who appeared in The Phantom Menace.

This reveal is probably something of a shock to Star Wars fans who have only seen the movies—one fan at the screening I attended yelled “What?!” aloud—because Maul was last seen being sliced in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi at Phantom Menace’s end. But Maul was resurrected for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where we learn he actually survived the encounter and holed up on a junkyard planet, cobbling together some spider-like, mechanical legs for himself and descending into near-madness. He was eventually rescued by his brother, Savage Oppress, who brought him back to their homeworld, Dathomir, to be healed by the witches who lived there (and to get a sweet upgrade to those legs).

Maul, having regained his senses, spent the rest of his life seeking revenge against Kenobi, in the process amassing a vast criminal empire for himself by exploiting the galaxy’s already thriving criminal underworld, which was made possible by the distracted Jedi, who were busy fighting in the Clone War. Got all that?

In a nice touch, Maul is played in Solo by Ray Park, who originated the role in The Phantom Menace, but voiced by Sam Witwer, reprising the part from Clone Wars.