Culture

Let’s Be Honest – Everyone Really Wants A Lando Movie

by James Poulos

May 16, 2018
Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

There’s something about Lando.

Although Han Solo is one of the most instantly recognizable — and bankable — characters in the possibly eternal “Star Wars” franchise, it’s Lando Calrissian, his conflicted and conflict-propelling best friend, who holds a special place in the series mystique.

And in “Solo,” the first of possibly three spin-off films, it’s Lando who’s fanning the flames of fandom, well in excess of the star of the show.

It’s kind of strange that this is happening.

But nobody’s really that shocked. Not even Disney, which is rolling out the Ron Howard-helmed film in a way that seems crafted to encourage Lando mania. (Just check the hype-to-screen-time ratio achieved in the film’s first trailer.)

To a degree, that’s a function of Lando’s unique role in the “Star Wars” universe.

Despite relatively little screen time, Lando is pivotal in the original series. He’s the guy who introduced Solo to the Millennium Falcon, who sold Solo out to the Empire, and who rallied to atone for his betrayal and save the rebels’ flagging fortunes.

Importantly, all these events unfolded in a natural extension of Lando’s personality and disposition. When plot and character are one, art reaches a purity of form that really moves audiences. All the world-building in the world can’t substitute for a well-crafted web of relationships that situates a story’s heroes in the drama of the human condition.

In the original trilogy, that’s where Lando came in and came through with shining colors.

Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

But about those colors. The signature Calrissian capes and suave mustache are on full display in what we’ve seen so far of “Solo.” (Our guy even has a walk-in cape closet on the swank, pre-Solo Falcon.) His swagger all but swallows up the movie poster, which at least one fan has shown coincidentally points all its visual cues and sharp angles straight at Lando, who beams out his brio from the poster’s center.

Being a person of color with a Sinatraian “my way” approach to success, Lando perfectly anchors and defines the world of “Solo.” He’s more than impressive enough to draw us in but complex enough for someone like Han to wind up in the sort of adventure that makes him worth paying attention to.

That brings us to Donald Glover, who happens to be having a rather Lando-esque moment of his own right now.

Donald is so inventive, but he's also an intellectual. He thinks like a writer and then he happens to also be a great performer.

This is the year Glover has become a full-fledged star — not the indie kind with an important and slightly artsy-ish TV show (“Atlanta”) or a critically-revered, but semi-obscure musical persona (Childish Gambino) but a mainstream, instantly recognizable representative of a whole slice of American life and culture.

Photo by Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Audiences have become ready to revel in Lando at the same time and in some of the same ways that they’ve come to embrace Glover.

As Howard told the L.A. Times, “Donald is so inventive, but he's also an intellectual. He thinks like a writer and then he happens to also be a great performer. And [then there’s his] tremendous work ethic.”

Like the swaggering Lando, there’s something just a little haughty about Glover — in a good way. And Glover’s got that confident vibe to ride that energy smoothly.

Recounting his chat session with original Lando, Billy Dee Williams, Glover said, “I had a bunch of ideas of what it was going to be, and he threw it all out the window. He was just kind of like, ‘I don't know. Be charming.’ That was sage advice. He was like, ‘Keep it simple, stupid.’”

In a world as grimly wack as ours, Glover’s Lando is poised to deliver us a timely new kind of hero.

Share image via Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Let’s Be Honest – Everyone Really Wants A Lando Movie