The newest Star Wars movie might be called Solo: A Star Wars Story, but let's face it, there is no Han Solo film without Chewbacca. And for fans of the Star Wars franchise, there is no Han without Chewie, and there never will be. So of course, when Solo was first announced, fans immediately demanded that the story of how Han Solo and Chewie met had to be included, and the filmmakers delivered. Not only does Solo show how Han and Chewbacca meet, but it's also been described as the BFFs' romance.
"To me, this is a love story between Han and Chewie," said co-writer Jon Kasdan in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Their relationship has always been my favorite part of the saga, and the fact that only Han understands what Chewie is saying, I find a very funny possibility for comedy."
Small spoilers ahead. As for how, exactly, Han learned to speak Wookie, that's one mystery Solo doesn't answer. But fans will get to see the duo's first meeting, which goes as follows: captured by Imperial forces on Mimban, Han is thrown into pit with "the Beast." The Beast, of course, is revealed to be Chewbacca himself, and Han befriends him by making a pact to escape together, which they do.
Superfans of the Star Wars universe will note that this first meeting is very different from the one detailed in the 2000 comics Star Wars: Chewbacca. As detailed by The Hollywood Reporter, that telling had Solo working as an Imperial officer who refused to kill Chewie, who was escaping Wookie enslavement, and subsequently abandoned his post. That comic was written out of canon a while ago, but even though fans suspected that Solo would reject this piece of abandoned Star Wars mythology, we should have known that Chewie and Han's relationship would still be built on an effort to break the law.
The Chewbacca we meet in Solo is not the Chewbacca fans have come to know and love, however. This Chewie is wild and dirty, threatening. "You're going to see a side of him that's less cuddly and more let's-get-this-stuff-done," Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo (who inherited the role from Peter Mayhew) teased in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "In the beginning of our story Chewbacca has fallen on a rough patch. We meet him in extreme circumstances... There are many more action-paced adventures for him to take on. That results in a much more ramped-up Chewie." The actor added that Chewie's arc in Solo is more than that of a sidekick — so get ready to see Chewbacca in the middle of the action.
It's not just Chewbacca who will get to show off a different side of his character in Solo. For the first time in the franchise, fans will hear Han himself speak Shyriiwook, the Wookie language. Doing the Wookie sounds, it turns out, is much more nuanced than it seems, at least according to Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich. "Joonas really taught me how to do it, these deep cut Wookie things that you have to break the noise at the beginning," Ehrenreich explained to Entertainment Weekly.
As the Star Wars franchise continues to expand, there is plenty of room for the relationship between Han and Chewie to grow onscreen. Ehrenreich confirmed to Esquire that he is signed on to play Han in two more films, which means that should fans get a Solo sequel, they can probably expect to get more Chewie. As we know from the original trilogy and The Force Awakens, Han and Chewie are a package deal, and they always will be.