Solo has been in theaters for just over a week, but by judging on box office numbers, there are still a lot of folks who have not yet gotten out to see the newest Star Wars cinematic offering. Along those lines, we thought we would provide a quick primer on the setting of the film for those curious about where Solo falls within the timeline of Star Wars movies.
Solo is set approximately eight years before A New Hope or conversely, about ten years after Revenge of the Sith. For those unfamiliar with where those films are placed, here’s a little more context. A New Hope is the film that started it all in 1977 and launched the original trilogy which consists of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It was the introduction to Star Wars’ first rogue, Han Solo, and his copilot Chewbacca. So, Solo takes place years before the events that happen in those films. The other film mentioned, Revenge of the Sith, is the last film in what is commonly referred to as the prequel trilogy.
The prequel trilogy was the trilogy of films that began with The Phantom Menace in 1999 and covered the tragic downfall of Anakin Skywalker and how he became Darth Vader (the main enemy of the original trilogy). It consists of the aforementioned The Phantom Menace, as well Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. More importantly, beginning with the middle film, Attack of the Clones, it’s timeline covered the beginning and conclusion of the Clone Wars in the history of Star Wars. The Clone Wars were mentioned by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the very first Star Wars film, when the Jedi Master first told Luke Skywalker about his father. A lot of the Clone Wars was also covered in the animated series, The Clone Wars, which took place between the two films, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
The Clone Wars were essentially a galaxy wide civil war as planets that had been part of the Old Galactic Republic attempted to break away to form their own confederacy of planets (hence why those planets were called the Separatists). As a result of this galaxy spanning war, chaos and the rule of law broke down in many parts of the galaxy, which created a vacuum for organized crime to flourish. It was not until the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Galactic Empire, as seen in Revenge of the Sith, that the Empire began to assert control over the lawless places in the galaxy. It was a process which took a number of years, but had largely been contained by the time Luke Skywalker left his home to join the rebellion. It’s in this period of time, after the rise of the Empire, but before it had fully exerted its iron fist that Solo takes place. Han Solo has yet to meet Chewbacca or win the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian (this is mentioned in The Empire Strikes Back). At the same time, Darth Vader is terrorizing the galaxy and those resisting the Empire are just now starting to form the beginnings of what will become the rebellion we know and love.
Finally, for those of you who have been heading to the theaters the past few years to see the latest Star Wars films, here is where Solo falls into place regarding those films. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi take places decades later. Rogue One, the film where rebels steal the plans to the first Death Star, takes place seven or so years after Solo. All the events in these previous films have yet to happen. Hopefully, this short primer has helped the curious understand the where and when of Solo!