Smuggler Lando Calrissian has pulled off his biggest score: stealing “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Donald Glover’s Lando, the role he inherited from Billy Dee Williams, has outshoneand outswaggered his frenemy Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich)— whose name is in the title— at every turn.
The signs of his force are everywhere, with the Fandango FanShop reporting that Lando merchandise is moving at twice the pace ofHan merchandise. At theworld premiere of “Solo”in Hollywood, the undisputed biggest cheer of the night came 45 minutes into the movie when Calrissian first appeared.
“The movie is called‘Solo,’ but peoplehave really focused onLando since the first trailer dropped,” says Shawn Edwards, co-founder of theAfrican American Film Critics Association. “Lando is the man!”
Here’s how he pulled off the heist:
1. Glover’s rising star
The Han Solo torch has been passed from Harrison Ford to highly respected up-and-comer Ehrenreich. (Most moviegoers don’t know him— yet — but he rocked theCoen brothers’ 2016 comedy “Hail, Caesar!”)
Meanwhile, Glover, who earnedgeek credas Troy Barnes on NBC’s “Community,” has shot to superstardom in music (performing as Childish Gambino) andmovies (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”) while also creating and starring inFX’s “Atlanta”(whichearned him two Emmy Awards in 2017).
Hishilarious stint hosting “Saturday Night Live”was a showcase for his burgeoning powers, culminating in the unveiling of hispolitically powerful Childish Gambino song “This Is America” —which shot to No. 1 on theBillboardHot 100 chart.
“People are fascinated by Donald,” says “Solo”screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. “And that’s the way Lando should be played.”
2. Pent-up Lando love
There is a lot of pent-up love for Calrissian, who first started sparring verbally withHan Soloin 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back.”Hehasall the rebel coolness of Solo, whom he famously betrayed, with cooler outfits.
Most of the other beloved “Star Wars”characters, from Luke to Leia, have returned to the revitalized franchise except Lando, until now.
“Knowing LandoCalrissian was coming back in ‘Solo’was enough to get the ‘Star Wars’community really excited,” says Erik Davis, managing editor of the movie site Fandango.com. “He’s a suave fan favorite, and you never know whose side he’s on.”
3. The ‘Black Panther’ effect
The cultural box-office explosion from February’s “Black Panther”has carried into “Solo”and Glover’s Calrissian — one of the few black characters depicted in space, as Glover hilariously pointed outin an “SNL”sketch.
” ‘Black Panther’created this whole cinematic energy, which has benefited ‘Solo,’ ” Edwards says. “It unleashed this appetite for cool black characters and actors.”
4. The cape crusade
Glover, long known as a snappy dresser, makes magic asthecape-donning, best-dressed character inthe galaxy far, far away.
“There’s a suit at the end of this movie, I would wear that out,” Glover said at the “Solo”premiere. “And you start falling in love with capes in general. It’s like, ‘Why don’t people wear capes anymore?’ They look so fresh. You can’t top a good cape.”