Since the beginning of the “Star Wars” saga, we’ve wondered whether LGBTQ characters exist in George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away.
Up until 2018, there had been little to no queer representation in his decades-old franchise. And then “Solo: A Star Wars Story” happened.
The film centers on a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich ) and his associates Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). “Solo” gives fans the Millennium Falcon backstory they had been pining for, with plum new defining character details. One of the more notable ones: Lando appears to be pansexual.
Lando’s sexual preferences ― possibly including men, women and droids ― are the subject of more than a few lines of dialogue in “Solo.” For example, the banter between Lando and Han Solo has been interpreted as flirting by some critics who have seen the film before its May 25 release (and many others who’ve watched only the trailers). Even Lando’s droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) makes a joke about Calrissian’s teasing dynamic with Han in the film.
Lando might have romantic feelings for his droid too. For the record, L3 would not reciprocate those hypothetical feelings, but as she tells Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), “it” would “work,” physically speaking.
Of course, these fanatic interpretations are based on subtext. Lando (Billy Dee Williams in Episodes V and VI) has been loaded with sex appeal ever since he brazenly told Leia she looked “absolutely beautiful” in “The Empire Strikes Back,” but there’s never been an explicit recognition of his sexuality in the movies.
So, given the opportunity to speak with father-and-son “Solo” co-writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, I asked them about Lando’s possible sexual fluidity. Is he pansexual?
“I would say yes,” Jonathan Kasdan emphatically said.
“There’s a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee’s [portrayal of Lando’s] sexuality,” Kasdan continued. “I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie. I think it’s time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity ― sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of.”
“He doesn’t make any hard and fast rules. I think it’s fun,” Kasdan said. “I don’t know where it will go.”
His father was more cryptic. When I mentioned the moment in the movie when L3 jokes about Lando’s flirty attitude toward Han, Lawrence Kasdan said, “That is her personality. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t.”
Lawrence Kasdan’s ambiguity is more reflective of the broader “Star Wars” universe, a realm filled with of every type of alien being imaginable, yet the rarest of all its life-forms seems to be LGBTQ characters. For the most part, these characters’ storylines have happened only off screen.
Take Vice Adm. Amilyn Holdo (Laura Dern) in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” who was revealed to be queer in the tie-in novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan. During a conversation between Amilyn and Leia, Amilyn describes a particular turn-on as follows:
“A pair of pretty dark eyes.” Then Amilyn thought about that for a moment. “Or more than a pair, if you’re into Grans. Or Aqualish, or Talz. Or even —”
“That’s all right!” Leia said through laughter. “It’s just humanoid males for me.”
“Really? That feels so limiting.”
“Thank goodness it’s a big galaxy.”
But there are no overt references to Amilyn’s romantic life in the film.
Some fans are rooting for a relationship between Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) — a “Force Awakens” and “Last Jedi” ship lovingly dubbed FinnPoe — but that pairing looks less likely after the most recent movie.
In March, Boyega told HuffPost that his character’s kiss with Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) in “The Last Jedi” was essentially the kiss of death for FinnPoe.
“I don’t know if that’s going to happen,” he said, referring to a Finn-Poe romance. “I think we already established a love between Finn and Rey, and now a sneaky kiss from Rose … There’s too many options, man. But I don’t know,” he said, adding that it’s ultimately up to Episode IX director J.J. Abrams.
Overall, the “Solo” writers said they were conscious of representation when shaping the movie. Jonathan Kasdan pointed out a moment early on in the film, in which they deliberately chose to make the audience question the norms of attraction in our world.
“There’s a line that [Jon Favreau’s character, Rio] has where he’s asking Han about the girl that he left behind, and he says, ‘Does she have big teeth?’” implying that such a feature would be appealing.
“It’s a joke in the movie, but we did want to hit on this idea that people’s ideas of what they’re attracted to all over the galaxy are very, very different and not exactly as set as ours are,” he said.
With so many new “Star Wars” projects on the way in the coming years, there’s hope for a more obvious LGBTQ character in the future. Until then, at least we have Lando.
Glover and Williams weren’t available to comment, but as Calrissian says in “Solo” …