When Disney first announced that it would be creating stand-alone Star Wars movies featuring origin stories for some of the franchise’s popular characters, Han Solo was always the top candidate. The roguish space pilot, smuggler and reluctant ally of the Rebellion played by Harrison Ford in the original Star Wars trilogy and in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens carried an air of mystery and intrigue that hinted at a strong, untold history, which is explored in the new movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.
“I just remember thinking that he was the type of guy I wanted to be when I grew up: confident, suave,” says Aaron Alvarez, who cosplays as Han Solo as part of local Star Wars fan club the Twin Suns. “I think it’s just that he’s a normal, everyday guy. He doesn’t have any Force powers. He doesn’t have any abilities. Just him and his wits.”
Ryan Wilgeroth, director of performance for UNLV’s Society of Light-saber Duelists, is eager to see a movie that reveals more about Solo’s past. “Everything that [Han] says or everything that he does has a rich story that you know he’s only telling you half of the matter,” Wilgeroth says. “Everything that he says, there’s a layer and another layer and another layer that you just want to be able to explore and figure out.”
Amanda Bond, who cosplays as Rey from the Star Wars sequel trilogy and is the local director of Star Wars costuming group Nar Shaddaa Temple, has been a Solo fan since she was 5 years old. “Even though I play a Jedi now on weekends with a charity group, I still think Han Solo is my favorite, above Luke Skywalker,” she says. “He acts like he doesn’t care about anyone—it’s all for the money, just pay me my thing and I’ll be on. But he always goes back to save his friends.”
Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich as the title character, and while Alvarez, Wilgeroth and Bond are all excited to see the new movie, it’s hard for them to imagine anyone other than Ford in the role. “I think that 80 percent of it is not just Harrison Ford, but it’s ’70s and ’80s Harrison Ford,” Wilgeroth says. “I think deep down Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo, despite him trying to deny it,” Alvarez adds.
Fans will be lined up to see Solo starting on Thursday night, when local Star Wars organizations including Twin Suns and Nar Shaddaa will be in costume at the Brenden Theaters at the Palms, and whether the movie is a triumph or a disappointment, Han Solo will live on. As Alvarez puts it: “He messes up a little bit, but he always comes out clean in the end.”
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover. Directed by Ron Howard. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.