If you're a Star Wars fan, then you've probably seen The Force Awakens, and if you've seen The Force Awakens, then you know how Han Solo's story ends. Now with Solo, fans will get to see how his story began, and that means meeting Qi'ra, the new movie's female lead. The character makes her big screen debut in Solo, but unlike some others in the film, she's brand new to the Star Wars canon. Qi'ra is not from the Star Wars books or comics, and instead was a character entirely created just for Solo by writers Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan.
Over the past three to four decades, the Star Wars universe has expanded far beyond the movies, with television shows, comics, and books that have continued to add to the mythology of a Galaxy Far, Far Away. But if you're looking for information on Solo's female lead, you won't find any in print. Still, while Qi'ra may be new to fans, she's an old friend to Han.
"They grew up as comrades, essentially. They grew up as pals, as partners in crime," actor Emilia Clarke said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Added Lawrence Kasdan said in an official Star Wars website interview, "Qi'ra and Han have a shared background that is very rough." Like Han, Qi'ra had to learn early on how to make her own way in the galaxy. (Qi'ra's past friendship with Han will be explored in the Star Wars book Most Wanted, which will be released on the same day as Solo.)
The fact that Qi'ra isn't from Star Wars books or comics or from any previous films means that her character is one of the most mysterious in Solo. Her official biography in the Star Wars databank is only a short sentence: "At 18 years of age, young Qi'ra is already enmeshed in a life of crime, working for a gang on Corellia." All fans know going into Solo about Qi'ra is that she's an old friend of Han's who, like the charming hero, works on the wrong side of the law to make a living.
As for why fans have never heard of her, Clarke has a theory. Noting Qi'ra's absence from previous Star Wars films, the actor mused that something traumatic must have happened (or will happen) in their relationship. "Something must happened [sic] to affect him as a person, but for us fans not to know about her. Twists happen," she told EW. Clarke wouldn't give away what, exactly, this twist might be, but she did tease a bit about the function of her character as she relates to Han. "There is this great idea of trust — and who do you trust and how do you trust? And which side of the4 tracks are either character from — or going to?"
Could Qi'ra be getting ready to betray the Han Solo? Clarke certainly makes it sound possible. Speaking at a Solo press conference, the actor described her character as someone "you need to keep tabs on throughout the movie," as reported by The LA Times. Qi'ra is she's a survivor, and sometimes survival comes at the expense of others. "The whole way through, she is surviving," Clarke told EW. "She has a couple of guises, but essentially she is just fighting to stay alive."
If Qi'ra's "survive at any cost" attitude sounds familiar, it's because this is the same attitude Han had when we first met him in Episode IV: A New Hope. Even though fans haven't heard or read or seen anything about Qi'ra just yet, they've seen the effect she had on Han. Whether or not that makes her more or less of a mystery is up to you.