Conventional wisdom says that you’re bound to see some crazy crap if you fly through the vacuum of space long enough, but there’s a moment in Solo: A Star Wars Story that you can really only describe as being… how to put it? Horrifically shocking.
Concept art of the Millennium Falcon as depicted in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Illustration: Lucasfilm/Disney
Creatures have always been the best part of the Star Wars franchise, but Solo‘s production team really outdid itself in dreaming up what sort of terrifying things one might find while trying to navigate through the maelstrom that makes travelling away from Kessel so dangerous.
When Han realises that it’s the only way he and everyone else on the Millennium Falcon are going to make it away from Kessel without being killed by an Imperial blockade, he makes the extremely Han decision to fly through the massive space storm hovering close to the planet.
The Falcon’s forced to bob and weave through planet-sized chunks of carbon, lightning and a dangerous gravity well, but everyone aboard the ship is stunned when they realise that there’s also some sort of gargantuan cephalopod-like creature living in the maelstrom that absolutely dwarfs them.
Check out some concept art posted on StarWars.com today:
Concept art of the “Space-o-pus” being sucked into a gravity well (as the Millennium Falcon tries to avoid being eaten). Illustration: Lucalfilm/Disney
Though Han would attribute it to his and L3’s superb piloting skills, the only reason the monster doesn’t end up eating the Falcon is because it makes the grave mistake of getting too close to the gravity well, which pulls in the creature while tearing off layers of its flesh and exposing its skull in the process.
It’s disgusting as hell but undeniably cool to see and, according to Lucasfilm design supervisor James Clyne, a purposeful nod to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Arnold Toht’s face melts off.
In an interview with StarWars.com, Clyne explained how the idea began as a sketch he drew during a production meeting that intrigued director Ron Howard:
We were having these conversations with Ron about what happens to this space monster when he gets sucked into this gravity well. Does he just turn into a ball of light? Does he dissolve like water? Everybody was throwing out these ideas and it was one of these big conversations and I said, “Well, what if in true ’80s Indiana Jones fashion, his skin just gets ripped off and we see his skull?” And everybody was like, “Oh, that’s disgusting, James!”
A minute later, Ron goes, “I want to hear more about the skull.” And I said, “Well, we’re Star Wars. Let’s have those fun moments where you’re a kid and you get giddy because there’s something really kind of gruesome that happens, but it’s not bloody…” I wanted to have one of these moments where you kind of felt sad for it. He was just hanging out in space doing his own thing, minding his own business, just a little hungry for some space ship. And then it gets sucked into this thing. We were trying to figure out how to make that a little more fun.
While it’s unfortunate the spacelopod (which was referred to internally as a “Space-o-pus”) met its demise in such a brutal way, it should have known better than to be floating anywhere near a gravity well. Everybody knows that when you’re flying around Kessel, you have to be wary of your surroundings.