How Solo‘s Craziest Death Scene Was Inspired by Indiana Jones
If you’re trying to outrun a squadron of TIE-Fighters while smuggling highly explosive, extremely expensive cargo, what you probably don’t want to do is fly directly into a maelstrom. Spoiler alert.
Yet that’s precisely what Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) does while at the helm of Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover)’s Millennium Falcon as they attempt to make the Kessel run (in 12 parsecs!) before being killed by the TIE Fighters and the Imperial blockade set up to stop them. The maelstrom is a colossal space storm in which huge chunks of planet and carbon collide amidst lightning, while at its core, the most dangerous part of all, an all devouring gravity well sucks everything into it. In short, it’s a place you avoid, not fly directly into, but that’s the only way Han thinks they’ll survive both the TIE Fighters and get their cargo to their destination before it explodes.
All of this would make the attempt suicidal enough, but Han and the gang have yet one more obstacle to clear—a space monster that makes the exogorth from Return of the Jedi seem like a little garden worm by comparison. This octopus-like creature lives inside the maelstrom, and his size is such that his eye is bigger than the entire Millennium Falcon. When Han and the group zip by, they wake the beast which, in short order, joins the chase to kill them.
Lucasfilm designer supervisor James Clyne was charged with helping the Solo crew dream up the monster, and its spectacular, grotesque demise. His work was displayed over at StarWars.com, and its fantastic. The Millennium Falcon catches a major break while trying to escape the monster—it gets too close to the gravity well and starts getting sucked in. The best/grossest part is as its being pulled into the well, layers of its flesh get pulled off. Clyne explained to StarWars.com that this was a direct nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Arnold Toht’s face melts off in that iconic ending. Here’s what Clyne had to say to StarWars.com:
“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.”
Fun indeed. This was one of the more inspired creatures we’ve seen in Star Wars in a long time, a deep space monster that makes Han’s constant boasting about the Kessel run all the more understandable.
Featured image: The Millenium Falcon in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Courtesy Lucasfilm.