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The announcement that Donald Glover will be playing Lando Calrissian in the as-yet-untitled Han Solo movie has already provoked a lot of excitement on social media — and the inclusion of Lando might be more important than a talented actor playing a beloved character. He just might help tie the new Star Wars canon together better than ever before.
While both the plot and the timeline of the Solo movie remain under wraps — although sources have told THR‘s Borys Kit that the movie will touch on Lando losing the Millennium Falcon to Han, as referenced in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back — it’s worth noting that this won’t be the first time that we’ve seen a pre-Empire Lando in recent years; indeed, he’s on his way to become the Zelig of the Star Wars canon.
Since Star Wars canon was revised in 2014, there’s really only been a handful of projects produced, and even fewer of those featuring core members of the original trilogy cast in stories set before their onscreen debut. Darth Vader, of course, has shown up in the Star Wars: Rebels animated series and some prose novels, but his backstory has also been established in the prequel series.
The untitled Han Solo movie will be the first major project to feature original trilogy characters set before the 1977 original Star Wars — even the Marvel comic books, for the most part, take place in the period between that movie and Empire Strikes Back — but Lando, for some strange reason, has circumvented all of this, and already shown up twice before his “first appearance.”
Calrissian’s earliest canonical appearance to date occurs in “Idiot’s Array,” a first season episode of Star Wars: Rebels. In it, he’s essentially already the Lando fans know and love — especially because he’s voiced by Billy Dee Williams, the actor who played the role in both Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. (Williams also voices the character in the Star Wars: Battlefront video game.) Nonetheless, in both this episode and the second season’s “The Siege of Lothal,” Lando is cocky, self-assured and a charming smuggler, just as he is in his movie appearances.
For more insight into Lando as a person (Although, intentionally, not too much; he is a con man at heart, after all), the Star Wars: Lando comic book series is a good destination. Set post-A New Hope but before Lando has become the man in charge of Cloud City in Empire, it shows how he handles with deals gone wrong — basically, get out, then get even — and reveals more about his relationship with Lobot, his right-hand man from Empire.
By dint of appearances like these, and the upcoming Han Solo movie, Lando Calrissian might end up become one of the more connective pieces of Star Wars canon, almost as much as Vader or Yoda. Not bad for a minor character who only showed up in the second movie as Han’s kinda-buddy.
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