On Saturday, director Ron Howard revealed a new Han Solo movie photo on social media, hinting that everyone's favorite space smuggler is in for a dark voyage through space. The latest batch of films to take fans to a galaxy far, far away have been dark in tone, but it seemed safe to assume a movie about young Han Solo would be lighter than the Star Wars adventures devoted to stopping the dark side of the Force. While that's probably still true, it looks like Han, Chewbacca, Lando, and the rest of the film's cast are in for at least one dangerous encounter. And it could be one that fans of the franchise have been waiting to see since the '70s.
Howard captioned the eerie, smog-filled photo, "Shooting a scene about desperate and dangerous times in the Galaxy." According to Entertainment Weekly, fans are now speculating that this photo, combined with one released earlier in the week point to the legendary Kessel Run finally being explained. In a New Hope, Han brags that the Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs." While the line seemed to be an aside to point out the character's superior piloting skills, it also sparked plenty of theories about exactly what the run entailed.
Kessel is a mining planet that was run by the Galactic Empire using slaves to mine spices. It's safe to say that it qualifies as a dangerous place, and that Han would have been risking his life if he attempted to smuggle anything on or off the planet. The exact details of the run, and whether or not it actually involved any smuggling or if it was some sort of race remain unknown — for now at least.
Another hint that the Han Solo movie is heading to Kessel came in the form of a photo Howard shared on Instagram. This still features the same smoggy effect, but it's slightly clearer. The added visibility reveals a wheelbarrow resting against the backdrop of gritty scenery that would be perfect for a mining planet.
So far, details about Han Solo's standalone film have been kept quiet. There's no official synopsis, and the only hints about what may take place come from the cast. Donald Glover is on board as Lando Calrissian, Han's friend and the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, and Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotamo, will have a major role to play in the story. Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke also have roles. At this stage, even the film's official title hasn't been revealed despite it being set to be released on May 25, 2018.
That makes the Kessel Run tease all the more intriguing. It's entirely possible that Han's legendary run could play a major role in the film's climax. Some of the slaves forced to mine the planet were Wookiees. So, perhaps, Chewbacca becomes enslaved at some point and Han goes on a rescue mission? As a smuggler, the lovable space rogue largely avoided politics before he met Luke and Leia, but if someone he cared about was being forced to work for the Galactic Empire, Han definitely would have stepped in.
Having this piece of Star Wars lore solved would answer a decades old question, and surely prove to be an exciting moment in the movie. With the potential to both play into the franchise's history and add a dash of organic action, how could Howard resist including such a famous event? Especially, when A New Hope left so much room for him make it his own.
For now, this is all just speculation, but Howard has made one thing clear: there will be a dash of darkness in Han's early smuggling days. And it might just lead him and the fans to the true story about what happened on Kessel.