The Falcon's Nose
The trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story dropped a few days ago, undoubtedly the first of many, and the sort of websites where sci-fi geeks like me hang out are still all abuzz. The Millenium Falcon makes an appearance in the trailer, of course, for what story about Han Solo could be told without mentioning his famous spaceship, or his copilot Chewbacca. The Millenium Falcon is an iconic spacecraft, and I rated it as the best screen spaceship design ever in my top ten of spaceships right here on this blog.
But, the Millennium Falcon looks a little different in the glimpse we get of it in the trailer. It’s only subtly changed, not very different, and it is still absolutely recognizable as the same ship, but it is also very obviously the same ship seen at a different time in its long history.
Pictures of a model used in filming this version of the Millennium Falcon have emerged and you can see the changes better on it. Some of the differences between this young Millennium Falcon and the old, beat-up version we know and love from previous movies (set when Han is older) are minor, or cosmetic. The interior corridor walls, for example, are clean, and the spaceship has a natty blue and white paint job, like R2-D2’s color scheme, and the radar dish is pointing straight up.
These are nice touches and really give a feeling of the sweep of time the Millennium Falcon has been exposed to. Over time, I guess the paint faded and was scratched off by hard vacuum and the radar dish is now stuck in its extended position, which is probably why it keeps getting bashed off. Han isn’t the houseproud type, so the oil-smeared and nasty state of the interior walls are also very realistic for the amount of time that has passed when we see him first on Tatooine.
In fact, I quite like the white and blue paint job. It’s very believable that the ship was recently in some haulage contractor’s fleet and is still painted in the company’s livery. I like a spaceship with an attractive paint job, such as the colors favored by the sci-fi artists of the TTA. I even wouldn’t mind if Rey did the Millennium Falcon up a little, and gave it a new paint job, maybe orange and white this time, like BB-8.
One of the changes we see in the trailer, however, is a little more substantial than these clever, cosmetic touches. There has been a big change to the front of the spaceship. The Millenium Falcon we are familiar with has a pair of giant claws on the front.
It has been suggested by fans that these claws are used for pushing cargo trains, and they are pretty integral to the spaceship’s look. But in the trailer we see that the front claws of the Millennium Falcon have been covered, or filled in, to produce an elongated, sharp nose.
The big question is why, and there are many theories being bandied about across the interwebs. It could be the way the Falcon was supposed to look, before Han crashed it into something, or it could be some kind of module that can be attached and removed as required. I’m going to put my prediction out there, based on an idea that came from a discussion on io9.
I think that this is a small cargo pod for high-value merchandise that has to be transported quickly. I’m thinking along these lines because the whole movie seems to be built around the Kessel Run. It seems like this mythical run is going to be to Solo: A Star Wars Story what the Death Star attack was to the original Star Wars movie, number IV that is, A New Hope. If this guess is right, then the Kessel Run may well happen right at the end of the movie, but instead of getting a medal, like he did for his part in blowing up the Death Star, Han will get a bounty put on his his head by Jabba the Hutt.
I think the Kessel Run is something like the run the Cutty Sark did. The Cutty Sark is a tea clipper, built to be one of the fastest. Clippers were built for seasonal trades such as tea, where an early cargo was more valuable. The first ship to arrive in port makes big profits, so the run has to be done quickly.
The movie will have to answer a bunch of questions about this, though. Firstly, why would Han be smuggling as well as running a cargo of legitimate goods where speed is of the essence? I guess that if he owed Jabba the Hutt, he might have no option but to take the contraband, along with his cargo.
Secondly, why is the run measured using a unit of distance? Here the trailer seems to give an answer. It looks like there is a big scary cloud that has to be either avoided or gone through. The under 12 parsecs route, the Kessel Run, might be the most dangerous but most direct way through the cloud. That then means Han wasn’t boasting about his spaceship’s speed but about how well it can take care of itself when faced with space monsters in a big space cloud.
Whatever reason they come up with to explain that line I hope it isn’t going to be dumb. But even if it is, I’ll still enjoy the move, I have a high tolerance for dumb stuff in Star Wars movies. I have become adept at just filtering out stupid stuff as I watch. I can come up with head cannon to explain it away pretty much on the fly.
I have been sorely tested in the past, of course, such as when I first saw Ewoks, and realized that instead of armies of fierce Wookies, the Empire was going to be brought down by a large gang of teddy bears. If I can handle that, ignoring a stupid explanation for why Han said parsecs will be quite simple.
As you might suspect, seeing as I just wrote an entire blog post on the shape of a spaceship’s nose, I am a big fan of Star Wars, sci-fi, and space opera. I have even written my own books, set against a similar background to the Star Wars stories. You can buy the book using the link below…
Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.
This is a universal book link (UBL) and you will be greeted with a page displaying all the places the book is available online. Just select the storefront you prefer and, if you want, also make this your default bookseller. From then on, every time you click a UBL you will be taken directly to the book you are interested in, on the storefront you prefer. The UBL even allows you to go to the Amazon store that matches your region.