Save for a couple of brief and none-too-revealing trailers, Disney has maintained a CIA-like veil of secrecy around one of its most eagerly anticipated summer films, Solo: A Star Wars Story, the stand-alone prequel detailing the personal backstory of a Galaxy Far Far Away’s favorite interstellar smuggler. But at a panel at CinemaCon — Las Vegas’s annual convention where Hollywood studios attempt to wow theater-chain owners with their impending blockbusters — Disney screened an extended sequence from Solo detailing the first meeting between the young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a scene shedding light on their future rivalry that also accounts for Han’s ownership of the Millennium Falcon.
The six-minute sequence opens with Han, Chewbacca, and their mysterious cohort Qi’ra (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) approaching a deep-space speakeasy, a louche and dangerous bar along the lines of the cantina on Mos Eisley in the 1977 first Star Wars installment, overflowing with outlandish-looking aliens. The trio is in need of a spaceship and begin plotting a way to finagle a particularly fast ship from a character Qi’ra describes as a high-stakes gambler, “the best smuggler around,” a “sportsman” who’s handsome, of incredible charisma, and has a prodigious” — Han cuts her off.
We meet Glover’s Lando at the card table, where he’s having a hot streak in a game called Saback. By way of introduction, Han says he has heard about Lando. “Everything you’ve heard about me is true,” Lando says.
Falsely claiming to own an extremely fast spaceship of his own and feigning unfamiliarity with the game, Ehrenreich begins winning, and we see a flash of the character’s easy cocksurety — the actor attempting to channel original Han Solo Harrison Ford’s smirky bravado. “This game is fun!” he exclaims.
As the pile of chips grows in front of Han — whom Lando first calls “Haaan” before being corrected — Lando begins to lose his cool. Just then, Solo goes all in, pushing all his money into the pot. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down,” Lando says. “You might want to quit while you’re ahead.”
“You might want to quit while you’re behind,” Han responds.
“You’re adorable,” Lando fires back.
A ripple of recognition shuddered through the Caesar’s Palace Ballroom as conventioneers registered this film’s reinterpretation of Star Wars’ iconic rivals. Despite months of negative buzz and the uncertainty surrounding Solo in light of its original directors being fired and replaced, suffice it to say the material played well in the room.