With the news yesterday of casting of Han Solo’s mentor in next year’s movie, a lot of fans are questioning why they’d do that when they already know his past.
For years, in the old Expanded Universe, Han Solo’s origin was that of an Imperial cadet who rescued Chewbacca from slavery by the Imperials. Aside from the fact that all of that old SWEU stuff not being canon now, there are other big reasons why that old origin likely won’t be shown on screen next year.
The earliest most people can find of Han Solo being an Imperial cadet comes from the Dark Empire sourcebook by West End Games in 1993:
It was there that Han Solo was named as a Imperial cadet. Four years later A.C. Crispin would write the Han Solo Trilogy, which greatly expanded his SWEU origin:
These books also weaved in the events of Brian Daley’s Han Solo Adventures that were published in 1979, long before the SWEU officially began:
As the Solo books were all published prior to the release of the Prequels, they contain a lot of stuff that was over-written by the top level G-Canon of the films. Boba Fett’s origin is detailed in Crispin’s novels, and it’s completely different than what it is in canon. The book origin was later retconned as a dumb smokescreen explanation to hide Jango’s role in The Clone Wars.
Thankfully we no longer have to deal with convoluted and confusing G, T, C, S, and N levels of canon. There’s only one canon level, so whatever the Kasdans decided for Han’s past in next year’s movie will be the official origin.
While there’s no way to know what they’re really doing, George Lucas did have an official backstory for Han Solo in mind that goes all the way back to when they were working on The Empire Strikes Back.
In the Lucas version, Han was raised on Kashyyyk by the Wookiees before going off to a “Space Academy” he flunked out of. After that he meets a powerful trader mentor who takes him under their wing before having a big falling out. At one point this mentor was Han’s step-father who was married to a Wookiee.
We know the “Han raised by Wookiees” angle survived through the Prequels. During Revenge of the Sith concept art was done for a young Han Solo who would’ve appeared during the Kashyyyk scenes in the movie. The scrappy younger version of Han, who grew up with the Wookiees (and Chewbacca), would’ve briefed the Jedi in one scene.
If the idea of Han being raised with the Wookiees is something that survived in Lucas’ mind all the way to 2003, it’s very possible that’s the “official” backstory for the character…even though we haven’t yet seen it on the big screen.