In a recent tweet, Ron Howard (director of the untitled Han Solo movie) posted a picture from the set of the film with an interesting hint about the location of the shot. Read on as we speculate about Howard’s latest clue.
To set the stage for our speculation, here’s the tweet in question:
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 20, 2017
Along with the picture, Howard posted the one-word question “Spicey?”. Obviously, this is most likely a reference to the mining and smuggling of spice, and contrary to what I always thought as a kid, we’re not talking garlic or paprika here. Spice is a naturally occurring mineral in the GFFA that can be processed into a dangerous recreational drug. We know that before breaking good and joining the rebellion, Han Solo was a smuggler for Jabba the Hutt, and spice was one of the shady commodities that Han transported on his YT-1300 light freighter for the crime lord (cue the realization as an older teen that my favorite Star Wars character at the time was a reformed drug dealer).
If you remember C-3PO’s concerned statement in A New Hope where he was afraid of being captured and “sent to the spice mines of Kessel” and the fact that Solo’s own ship “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs”, then you’ll immediately see the connection between spice, Han Solo, and the planet known as Kessel. But what do we know about this mysterious planet and what is its significance in Star Wars?
In the old expanded universe, Kessel was a misshapen asteroid-like planet where unlucky folks were sent to work in the dark mines in the most hazardous conditions imaginable. In the book Jedi Search, Book 1 of Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy Trilogy, Han Solo and his partner Chewbacca are taken prisoner and forced to work in the fathomless depths of the spice mines on Kessel. It is there that they meet a Force-sensitive boy named Kyp Durron who would later go on to be a prominent student to Luke Skywalker.
The planet has appeared and been mentioned numerous times in the expanded universe, but it wasn’t until after the premiere of Star Wars: Rebels Season 1 in Spark of the Rebellion that we got our first official look at the planet and its uses under the Imperial regime. In the show’s premiere, the Ghost crew learned that a group of Wookiees had been sent by Agent Kallus to a labor camp on the planet.
The Wookies are forced to work in the mines and have zero hope for survival with minimal life expectancy, very similar to what happens on the regular on the EU version of the planet. There are some differences in the official version and the Legends version, like the planet’s terrain and appearance for instance, but the general concept is the same. Kessel is a place, much like the world of Wobani in Rogue One, where prisoners are forced to work against their will for the betterment of the Empire.
In the photo, we see what definitely could be the entrance of a mine, and given Howard’s use of the word “spicey”, we can speculate that this could very well be a spice mine on the planet Kessel, which will no doubt be appearing in the movie, given Solo’s history with the planet. Could this even be where he finds Chewbacca and frees him from the yoke of slavery? We know from various canonical sources that Chewbacca was once a slave and that he owes a life debt to Han Solo for rescuing him, but the details of this event have not been fleshed out.
There are three things which I think are definitely going to be shown in this movie: one being Han winning the Falcon from Lando, the second being Han making the Kessel Run in the Falcon, and the third being the origin of his relationship with Chewie. With this in mind, I think Han meeting up with Chewie on Kessel and rescuing him from the Empire is a safe bet.
We also know that filming for the Han Solo movie has taken place on the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries. Interestingly, the setting seems to be in sync with that of Kessel: hot and barren. Of course, I realize that explains the terrain and climate of myriad other planets in the GFFA, but it’s possible that Fuerteventura could be standing in for a particular location on Kessel as well. Regardless, I am convinced that the set photo Howard shared is the very entrance to a spice mine on the barren wasteland of a planet.
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