This much we can tell you for sure: the still-untitled Han Solo spin-off movie will not be called “Red Cup.”
That’s the working title, a nod to the fact that George Lucas named Solo’s character for the plastic drinks brand. (True story.) But what about the actual title for the standalone film, which as of Tuesday is scheduled for May 25, 2018? Thus far Lucasfilm has it shut up tighter than a smuggling compartment on a Corellian freighter.
This much is likely: the movie name will be officially announced at Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm’s lovefest for fans, this April in Orlando. It’s a favored location for the company to dispense delightful secrets.
This much is also likely: the full movie title will end with the words “A Star Wars Story,” the company’s new name for its standalone offerings. Then again, Rogue One was first introduced as “A Star Wars Anthology movie,” so this can change.
Such a lengthy appendage means we’re almost certainly looking at a short title: think one, two or three cinema marquee-friendly words like The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi or Rogue One. Don’t expect anything long along the lines of “Han Solo and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” (It’s safe to say Lucasfilm, which also produces Indiana Jones movies, learned its lesson on that one.)
Constricted by such marketing needs, the film makers would have limited options. Here’s what they are:
1. Steal a name from the Expanded Universe
The Expanded Universe of Star Wars books and comics published before 2014 — which is when Lucasfilm banished them from official canon and rebranded them as “Legends” — has plenty of experience naming Han Solo adventures.
The fact that none of this corpus is canon means Lucasfilm is free to plunder it for characters, concepts and titles. Older fans who remember the EU wistfully would be cheered by any reference to it, even if out of context.
Indeed, they cheered when The Last Jedi borrowed its name from an EU novel (and an old Marvel comic), and when Grand Admiral Thrawn, a favorite Expanded Universe character created by author Timothy Zahn, was brought in to the current season of Star Wars Rebels.
Han was the first standalone subject of a Star Wars novel: Han Solo at Stars’ End, written by Brian Daly in 1979. A bestseller, it was swiftly followed that same year by Han Solo’s Revenge.
“Stars’ End” would be a neat name but for the fact that it would look weird next to “Star Wars story”; “Solo’s Revenge” would be a good title except for the fact that “Revenge” is now a term associated in the Star Wars universe with the evil Sith.
Since then we witnessed a small pile of Solo novels with cool names, such as The Paradise Snare and The Hutt Gambit. But there’s no cooler title than that of Zahn’s 2013 novel starring Solo, Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca — coincidentally, three dudes who will show up in the spin-off film.
It’s called Scoundrels.
“Scoundrels: A Star Wars Story” would certainly appeal to diverse moviegoers — the kind who dream of being Han, and the kind who dream of being with him. Stick that on a theater marquee, then sit back and collect a billion dollars’ worth of box office cash. As Han famously told Leia: “there aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.”
There was a short-lived ABC show also named Scoundrels, but that won’t present a problem. ABC and Lucasfilm are both part of the same far-flung Disney empire.
2. Steal a name from a heist movie
Scoundrels was a heist novel, and the Han Solo standalone may well be a heist movie. After all, what else are lowlife smugglers like Han, Lando and Chewie going to do — especially under the direction of the “criminal mentor” played by Woody Harrelson — but steal some sort of MacGuffin?
Star Wars movies tend to work best when they emphasize their ensemble (witness Rogue One, not to mention A New Hope), and heist movies are all about collecting an ensemble of thieves. That’s pretty much what the motley inhabitants of the Millennium Falcon cockpit look like in Tuesday’s announcement photo.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the latest in the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Ocean’s Eight, is headed to theaters in June 2018. That’s a mere month after the Han Solo flick.
So if Lucasfilm were to title its film “Solo’s Seven” — the six actors above minus the two directors plus Thandie Newton — that would be the most audacious (and entirely appropriate) act of title theft in movie history.
Making off with a naming convention is exactly what scoundrels would do, after all.
3. Steal a name from a Western
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has described the standalone movie as having “a heist or Western type feel.” If Kennedy offers to reference the latter in the title, she has plenty of options.
After all, the original 1977 Star Wars had plenty of Western connections. The legendary John Wayne flick The Searchers provided the inspiration for the scene where Luke discovers the skeletons of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru in his burned-out homestead, while Han’s standoff with Greedo recalls a very similar scene in Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
So what Western-style name could a Star Wars standalone have? “Once Upon a Time in the Galaxy” would be neat, but too long. “Dances With Wookiees” is fun but dumb. “Gunfight at the O.K. Cantina,” anyone?
The Good, the Bad and the Wookiee
A Fistful of Parsecs
For a Few Parsecs More
— Chris Taylor (@FutureBoy) February 21, 2017
4. Keep it simple and don’t get cocky
Given that even “Scoundrels” might require a modicum of explanation — yes, there are moviegoers out there who have never seen Empire Strikes Back — the Disney marketing machine may dictate something even simpler.
The first option? Just use his name. “Young Han Solo” may be a bit too twee for this day and age, but it explains everything you need to know about the film (and references that other prequel to a Harrison Ford portrayal, ABC’s The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles).
“Han Solo” is a bit on-the-nose, but if that name is ever going to become a movie title, now would be the time. You could also just use “Solo” — if you ignore the fact that it was also the title of a forgettable 1996 action flick.
Anyway this has been fun, but if I had to bet I’d put my credits on a super basic title like
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
— Chris Taylor (@FutureBoy) February 21, 2017
There’s one last, supremely simple option that also lifts the title of an Expanded Universe novel. It’s one of the most widely known and beloved ships in all of science fiction; the ship that will probably change hands between Lando and Han over a game of Sabacc at some point in the film. The ship that subsequently did the Kessel Run in fewer than 12 parsecs, whatever that means.
You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?
Place your bets now: You have six weeks until Star Wars Celebration.