By exploring Han Solo’s past in Solo: A Star Wars Story, it meant taking a closer look at key plot points, key among them how he came across the Millennium Falcon. When we first saw the Falcon in the original Star Wars, it was called a piece of junk for a reason—it didn’t age very well.
The tall task of restoring it to something that is both newer yet still grounded in the past was tackled by design supervisor James Clyne, and he did a fantastic job. Clyne went way back for inspiration, taking a look at the 1970’s muscle cars that served as the genesis for the original Millennium Falcon design.
Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Through various concepts and designs, Clyne came up with about 60 different models that differed from the current design. Some took great liberties, adding ungodly spoilers and an extra cockpit to create more symmetry, while others kept the changes minimal. His goal was to strip away the panels one by one until the junk revealed itself by the end of the movie, providing the connection to the original Star Wars.
You can see 30 of the wild concepts Clyne worked on in the early renders provided by StarWars.com. Not sure how any of those could have been incorporated in the movie, but it would have been something neat to see.
“I think the big exciting thing about doing a new Falcon was the question of, we all know what an old Millennium Falcon looks like, but what does a new Millennium Falcon look like? That was really exciting,” said Clyne in an interview with StarWars.com.
The end result clearly made the connection between the original Falcon and this newer version. He used Ralph McQuarrie’s original designs, which were made with George Lucas, of the Falcon for the base of his new interpretation.
The Millennium Falcon we see in Solo is much cleaner, smooth and futuristic-looking. The front hull that gives it an uncharacteristically mouthy look is the escape pod added as part of the plot for the movie. Once it’s released, the classic look returns with the opening in the middle.
By the end of the movie, the Falcon is nearly trashed and in need of some much-deserved updating, which is when it gains the industrial touches that define it.