SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers for some of the best moments in Solo: A Star Wars Story follow below. Read at your own risk!
The verdict is in and Solo: A Star Wars Story couldn't quite measure up at the box office. While some (and Lucasfilm) may be quick to figure out what went wrong here, it's not as if the movie didn't have anything going for it. It had some really charming performances, a very surprising cameo appearance, and lots of cool set pieces. Box office dollars aren't the best measure of quality and while Solo isn't a perfect film, it had this writer walking out of the theater thinking about lots of memorable scenes.
And is it such a surprise that a movie about a young Han Solo contains seriously cool moments? Han Solo is the original cool guy in space, and Solo leaps to the challenge of entertaining fans through all manner of different ways. Han's journey to become a great pilot takes him to a lot of different places, forcing him to talk, shoot, and fly his way out of whatever trouble he manages to find himself in. In no particular order, here are six of the coolest moments from Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The Train Heist
Nothing beats a good heist, especially after you add aliens, lasers, spaceships, and a high-speed train moving hundreds of feet above a frozen wasteland. Early on in the film, Han and Chewie cross paths with Tobias Beckett and his crew, who are in the midst of planning to rob a train of its cargo full of hyperfuel. Han, desperate for money so that he can buy a ship, forces Tobias to let him and Chewie help. What follows is a pretty exciting sequence full of rising and falling tension mixed with solid action. Things escalate quickly when Enfys Nest and the Marauders arrive on their hoverbikes to steal the shipment for themselves. Sacrifices are made and things are blown up. It's definitely a great way to help kick off the movie.
How Han Met Chewbacca
Fans have wondered how Han Solo and Chewbacca, one of the best on screen duos in movie history, first met and forged their lifelong friendship. The answer? Chewbacca tried to straight up eat Han. In all fairness, Chewie was a slave of the Empire who hadn't fed him for three days, but still. After Han is labeled a deserter, he is thrown into a pit with "the beast," which turns out to be a starved and chained up Chewie. The two have an engaging fight in the mud before Han can convince Chewie that they need to work together to escape. The duo does just that and being chained together forces them to stick together until they can get off the planet. As far as meet-cutes go, it's a pretty fun way to reveal how they first met. But seriously, Chewie has eaten human beings before and that's messed up.
Lando, As A Person
I know I said Han was the original cool guy in space, but he's not the coolest guy in space. That title currently belongs to Lando, especially in the hands of Donald Glover. Armed with an almost overwhelming amount of swagger, Lando is a scene stealer and the movie arguably doesn't pick up until Han and the gang come to recruit Lando for a mission. Not only does Lando rock his own unique style, but he has a whole room in the Millennium Falcon just for his capes. I mean, that just takes confidence.
The Kessel Run
Han always liked to brag that the Millennium Falcon was fast enough to complete the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, but without any sort of context, it's hard to actually be impressed. As Solo showed, it's actually really, really impressive. The Kessel Run is essentially a passageway through space leading to the mining colony of Kessel. The planet is surrounded by black holes, culminating in the Maw, a gravity well so powerful that no ship has ever returned after getting too close. Passing ships have to stick to the safest route, but Han Solo has never been one for rules. With the Empire on their tail, Han has no choice but to pilot the Falcon off of the path for a "shortcut" through the most dangerous part of the Kessel Run. Not only does the ship have to weave through uncharted space, dodge tie fighters, avoid black holes, and get a shipment of highly explosive raw hyperfuel to a processing station before it explodes, but they also have to escape from a MASSIVE Cthulhu-type beast hidden within the maelstrom. It's a really thrilling sequence and probably the best scene in the whole movie.
Han Shoots First (Officially)
Whether or not Han Solo shot Greedo first in A New Hope is one of the most debated questions in all of Star Wars, but the popular answer is, yes, he did. Solo does its part to settle the argument. At the end of the movie, Han stands in the way of his mentor Tobias Beckett's escape, having outfoxed him earlier. Tobias, who has been imparting life wisdom on Han throughout the whole movie, begins one last monologue before he is abruptly cut off by a laser blast to the chest. Han finally shoots first. Tobias relents that that was the smart call before he passes away, helping to cement Han as more of a cutthroat than George Lucas ended up being comfortable with.
Darth Maul's Cameo
While Dryden Vos teased that he wasn't the leader of the Crimson Dawn, the criminal organization that Han ends up working for for the majority of the movie, I doubt very much that anyone was expecting that leader to be Darth Maul. The Emperor's former apprentice found a second life on the TV shows, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, but this is his first return to live-action since he was cut in half in The Phantom Menace. Whether this is just a cameo or a tease of something more is a bit unclear right now, but it was definitely one of the coolest moments in the movie to see Maul make his grand return to the big screen, if only for a few seconds.