Lando before Solo: Everything we know (in canon) about Lando Calrissian's early history
Presented by: Brian Silliman
In the buildup to the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, SYFY WIRE has gone through everything we know (in canon) about both Han Solo and Chewbacca. There's one critical character left to explore, and it's none other than one of the coolest scoundrels in any galaxy: Lando Calrissian.
Lando is another Star Wars character who had a great deal of his history left up in the air after the Expanded Universe was wiped from canon. The new canon has given us a decent amount of new Lando material, and while not all of it comes before the events of Solo (only a little of it does), there's a lot to unpack about what Lando's life included before Han Solo re-entered the fold and crashed Lando's Cloud City party in The Empire Strikes Back.
Who could possibly fill the too-cool-for-galactic-school boots of Billy Dee Williams? A few years ago, we may have said that nobody could possibly do it, but the heir apparent eventually emerged. Donald Glover is the perfect person to take on the role of a younger Lando, and though Calrissian will (probably) lose his ship, Glover is expected to steal the entire film.
From early adventures with one of the most interesting droids in Star Wars to an ongoing obsession with capes to pigs that inflate when excited to finding himself aboard the Emperor's personal luxury yacht, Lando's life has never been dull. It was always interesting, fun, and, of course, stylish. What do we know about Lando's early history? Let's find out.
THANK THE MAKER, THE MAKER IS ME
We were recently given a taste of what Lando was up to before the events of Solo, and if you've read any of our pre-Solo articles prior to this, you can probably guess where the information comes from. That's right — Jose Daniel Older's Star Wars: Last Shot comes to our rescue for, roughly, the millionth time.
Some of the earliest sequences in the book feature Lando cruising around the cosmos in the Millennium Falcon, accompanied by his droid companion, L3-37. Set to be played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the new film, L3-37 is already a fascinating addition to Star Wars lore if her depiction in Last Shot is anything to go by.
Lando and L3-37 get caught up in a scheme with Fyzen Gor and come across a device known as the Phylanx Redux Transmitter. During the adventure, L3 sounds off to Lando on a few occasions about the rights of droids, while also contemplating "the maker." She is a droid who has constantly replaced pieces of herself along the way, so part of her contemplation involves who they are really talking about when they talk about "the maker." Is she "the maker"? Are we not responsible for our own destinies? She has a philosophical streak in her that we haven't seen from very many droids in Star Wars, if any at all.
She's also very thankful to have a friend in Lando, and tells him she appreciates him on the regular. She means it, too. Not everyone in the galaxy would listen to a droid talking about such things, but Lando does. He listens, and he takes her seriously. It's a wonderful friendship, and I can't wait to see more of it in Solo.
As for the Phylanx Redux Transmitter? It's thanks to L3-37's actions in this time period that the day is saved many, many years later. When Han and Lando get caught up in the plots of Fysen Gor in the post-Return of the Jedi era, they succeed mostly because of things that L3-37 had already set into motion.
SOME MANIAC'S CAPE MUSEUM
Something that is already set in motion before any of this is Lando's obsession with all things related to fashion, with a special emphasis on capes. The man loves the way clothes make him feel, and don't think for a second that he's the kind of guy that only owns a couple of capes. Far from it. When Lando was the owner and captain of the Falcon, he had an entire closet dedicated to them.
The cape worship is enough of a thing that Han remarks upon it at one point in Last Shot — when talking about making some changes to the Falcon after he took ownership, he makes sure to say that he didn't want it to continue being "some maniac's cape museum." Han certainly makes the Falcon his own, but before he did, Lando had it completely decked out.
Another cape-related moment from Last Shot. At one point, Lando and company are crunched for time and have to get going on a mission of vital importance. Even though they have absolutely no time to waste, Lando takes a moment to change his cape. Deciding that the one he was already wearing did not suit their mission, he makes everyone wait while he selects a new one. There was much grumbling from the rest of the team and much laughter from me.
FANTASTIC PUFFER PIGS AND HOW TO PROFIT FROM THEM
After the events of Solo (which will include losing the Falcon to Han), Lando styled himself as a "galactic entrepreneur." If L3-37 is still functional at this point, she's not with him — at the very least, they're no longer joined at the hip.
Before the Battle of Yavin, Lando was involved with mining on the planet Lothal. It is here that he ran across the crew of The Ghost from Star Wars Rebels, even winning Chopper in a game of sabacc. Using the droid as leverage, Lando charms his way into the soon-to-be Phoenix Squadron; he praises Sabine's art, tries his smooth moves with Hera, and gains the ire of both Kanan and Ezra. Since Zeb was the one who lost Chopper to him in the sabacc game, he doesn't like him all that much either.
Lando uses the team to get an upper hand on the gangster Azmorigan, all in the service of getting himself a puffer pig, a mineral-sniffing porcine creature that inflates when it gets scared. Since they sniff out precious minerals, they are quite valuable. The team drops him back off on Lothal, takes Chopper back, and tells him that he owes them.
It wouldn't be long before that favor was called in — around half a season later, the crew of the Ghost gets Lando's help in smuggling themselves back to Lothal. He's not there in person, but his personal droid is able to help them out. The droid that helps them is not L3-37, just in case you were wondering.
The next time we see Lando is in comic book form in Marvel's miniseries Star Wars: Lando. Taking place after Star Wars: A New Hope but before The Empire Strikes Back, the series depicts Lando... what else? Getting into a whole lot of trouble.
This time Lando's trusted companion is Lobot, who everyone might remember from Empire. Far from the wordless cyborg we see in that movie, Lobot is more of a regular human being, albeit with some cybernetic enhancements. Lando certainly has a type.
In the course of trying to run a shady deal (as usual), Lando and Lobot end up onboard Emperor Palpatine's personal yacht, which happens to be packed with ancient Sith artifacts. It's pretty much the worst place for them to be, and Lando's number almost comes up. He is saved thanks to Lobot, who fries what is left of his humanity to save them. He tells Lando that he wants him to take his life more seriously, and then Lobot becomes the wordless assistant that we know from Empire. It's heartbreaking.
We can gather that Lando took Lobot's words to heart because it's not long after this that Lando becomes Baron Administrator of Cloud City. Though Han says Lando "conned somebody out of it," we don't really know the full story. We do know that Lando has tried to go legitimate, and has heeded the words of Lobot.
Unfortunately for Lando's new career, the Empire pays him a visit, with Han and the gang not far behind. We all know what happened next — the deal got worse all the time; oh, wait, I thought you were blind; YEEE-HAWWWW, yub nub.
One bit of Lando history that we still don't know the details of is The Battle of Taanab. We don't know when this happened or what it was... all we know is that Lando pulled "a little maneuver" during it, and that helped him become a rebellion General in one easy step by the time Return of the Jedi rolls around.
We will learn a great deal more about Lando's early history soon enough. On April 24, Donald Glover will don one of (or, more likely, several of) the legend's capes — will you be ready? The quote the man himself, "Better buckle up, baby."