'Star Wars' Marvel Comic Introduces A Major New Character That Could Change The Movie Universe Forever

It's still nearly six months until the grand unveiling of The Force Awakens, the highly-anticipated new chapter in the Star Wars saga, but Disney has introduced (spoiler alert) Han Solo's wife Sana Solo into the comic book universe, and that could have huge ramifications for the upcoming film. The current line of comics takes place between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, picking up immediately after the destruction of the Death Star in Episode IV. In issue #4, readers were introduced to a masked figure who was hunting down Han Solo in the Tatooine spaceport Mos Eisley (where we first met the scoundrel pilot in the films). In issue #6, that figure was unmasked... and it was Han Solo's wife.

Unless the enormity of this revelation is lost on you, consider this: these comics are now officially canon. This means that, during the entirely original trilogy, while our beloved Han Solo was running around the galaxy, blowing up Death Stars and wooing Princess Leia, he had a wife we never knew about. How does this color our perception of the character, learning that the whole time we knew him he was a cheater?

When the new Star Wars trilogy was first announced, diehard fans who hoped to finally meet Mara Jade Skywalker or Jacen & Jaina Solo were crushed by the news that Episodes VII-IX would be completely ignoring the Expanded Universe. (For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Expanded Universe is the name given to the reams upon reams of novels, comic books, video games, etc. that sprang up in the wake of 1983's Return Of The Jedi.)

But, when Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney in 2012, executive producer Kathleen Kennedy was quick to explain that, as far as the movie studio was concerned, the only facets of the massive Star Wars universe that were "canon" were the six films and the two animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Going forward, everything produced under the umbrella of Disney would be considered canon while the existing Expanded Universe would be rebranded Star Wars Legends, and shuffled off to the side like an embarrassing cousin at a family reunion.

Part of that effort to condense all Star Wars off-shoots into one cohesive universe meant the transfer of Star Wars comics from Dark Horse, its publisher of 23 years, to Disney-owned Marvel. Marvel began publishing its Star Wars comics in January of this year. On Wednesday morning, Star Wars #6 was released, and — considering that these comics are now officially "canon" — the plot twist about Han's wife has major ramifications for the entire franchise.

Of course, perhaps further issues of the comic will somehow explain this. Maybe Sana Solo died a tragic death before the events of Episode V — although Han didn't really seem like a man in mourning during the latter two films. Maybe they got a divorce — although filing for divorce papers while evading an evil Empire doesn't really seem plausible. Maybe they're exes, and Sana still considers Han her "husband." Maybe she's just plain crazy. Who knows?

As concerning as this revelation is for Han's character, it's also exciting for a different reason: it introduces a character who's a woman of color into a very male, very white universe. And — barring the possibility of Sana dying in the comics — there's a chance the character could appear in The Force Awakens, adding to the admirable diversity of the new trilogy.

If Sana Solo is one of the many surprises that director J.J. Abrams has in store for us this Christmas, who should play her? When I first saw that image of her from Issue #6, I immediately thought of Force Awakens cast member Lupita Nyong'o... but then I remembered that A) many decades will have passed between the comics and Episode VII, making 32-year-old Nyong'o much too young to play 72-year-old Harrison Ford's wife, and B) Nyong'o's role has already been revealed to be entirely motion capture.

So who should portray Han Solo's wife on the big screen? It's possible that the character's introduction, if handled in the films at all, will be reserved for Episode XIII. But, if Sana does exist in The Force Awakens, then Abrams has done a great job of keeping her under wraps, so we might as well reach for the stars here. Given Abrams' pre-existing connection to the second-most popular science-fiction franchise in the world, maybe he pulled some strings and got a fan-favorite supporting player from Star Trek: The Next Generation to make a cameo in his Star Wars film:

Hey — a man can dream, right?

Images: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; trekgate/tumblr