The budding Star Wars cinematic universe continues to expand with the second-ever standalone Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story. The film joins the ranks of Rogue One as the only other Star Wars movie that's not a part of the long-running Skywalker saga that's at the center of the original, prequel, and sequel trilogies. So when does Solo take place in the Star Wars timeline? It's obviously a prequel meant to take place before the original trilogy, but just how far back are we talking?
The movie actually takes place pretty far back in the Star Wars timeline — though not as far back as the prequel trilogy. To figure out when exactly Solo takes place, you have to take a look at the official Star Wars canon. The canon used to include loads of Han Solo backstory, courtesy of the novels in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which included the late '70s novel trilogy "The Han Solo Adventures," as well as the late '90s novels "The Han Solo Trilogy." But when Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, they soon abolished all previous canon outside of the movies and the two TV series that were airing at the time: Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, along with any new books and media published after 2014. And it's among these new books where fans can derive the answer to the Solo timeline question.
Random House, who publishes these new Disney-sanctioned Star Wars novels under their Del Rey Books imprint, has installed a timeline on their website showing when each novel takes place. The movies are also included in the timeline, since they all have their own corresponding novelizations, and that means fans can place Solo within the timeframe of the other Star Wars films. According to this timeline, Solo takes place between the novels Star Wars: Tarkin and Star Wars: Thrawn — two books about Star Wars villains — that both take place outside the movies. That's all well and good, but where is Solo in relation to the Star Wars films?
Well, it takes place long after the last prequel film, Revenge of the Sith, and also before Rogue One, which makes sense since that movie leads directly into A New Hope and Han is considerably younger in Solo than he is in his Star Wars film debut. Solo even takes place before the TV series Star Wars Rebels, which itself takes place 14 years after Revenge of the Sith, and five years before A New Hope. And if you're already sick of math in this article, it's only going to get worse.
The previously-mentioned Tarkin takes place 14 years before A New Hope, according to Polygon's Julia Alexander, which places it nine years prior to Star Wars Rebels. There's also another book sandwiched between Thrawn and Rebels in the timeline, Star Wars: A New Dawn, which takes place about five years before Rebels, according to IGN's Eric Goldman. So that means Solo takes place between nine and five years before Star Wars Rebels, which itself takes place five years before A New Hope. This makes Alden Ehrenreich's Han Solo in Solo between 14 and 10 years younger than Harrison Ford's version from A New Hope. That actually lines up pretty well with Solo screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan's estimation. While writing the film, Kasdan told J. J. Abrams at the Director's Guild of America, via Cinema Blend, that the movie would take place ten years before A New Hope.
So after all of those complex computations, we end with a number that was what the movie said it was going to be all along: Solo takes place about ten years before the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. So pay close attention to Alden Ehrenreich's career, since he should hypothetically look just like Harrison Ford in another decade.