Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. I’m still on that Solo high, but this week I want to talk about the real star: Lando Calrissian.
Who is Lando Calrissian?
Lando Calrissian was a hit in the Star Wars original trilogy, but we finally get some backstory to the character in Solo. We also get to see the start of a beautiful frenemy-ship between Lando and Han that will flavor a lot of their later interactions.
We first meet Lando, predictably, in a gambling hall. Han Solo is undertaking a dangerous and risky smuggling job on Kessel, and they need a fast ship. Qi’ra tells Han that she knows a guy — Lando Calrissian owns the Millenium Falcon. She also mentions that he’s charming, talented, handsome, etc etc etc — and she’s not wrong.
Our first glance of Lando is a suave gamester who oozes charm. Of course, Lando is also a cheat and out for number one. Han nearly wins the Falcon from Lando but loses when Lando cheats. Lando agrees to work the job anyway, despite being ostensibly retired, because he needs the cash. He acts charming for Qi’ra but is only in it for the money.
Lando’s not all bad, though. He has a deep relationship with his droid co-pilot, L3-37. Lando sasses the droid, who sasses him right back. L3 has no loyalty programming telling her what to do — but Lando respects her for her skills anyway. When L3 is shot, Lando risks his life to save her. When she dies, he mourns her.
In the end, Lando loses a lot on the Kessel job. L3 dies, leaving Lando without a copilot. The job goes south, leaving Lando without a payday. And Han falls in love with the Falcon, eventually challenging Lando to a rematch. This time, Lando can’t cheat, and he loses his ship. It’s a rough life ahead for him, at the end of Solo.
Of course, the next time we see Lando, things are looking up. Lando’s first Star Wars appearance comes in Empire Strikes Back. When the Millenium Falcon is, predictably, damaged escaping the Empire, Han discovers he is near Bespin. Bespin has recently been taken over by Lando, so he decides to swing by his old “friend” for help.
Lando is now the Baron Administrator of the Bespin mining colony. Bespin mines Tibanna gas, which is fairly profitable. Lando, of course, won the colony in a card game. But he takes his responsibilities seriously. He wants to do right by the people of Bespin. He jokes with Han that who would have ever thought he’d turn responsible.
Sadly, Lando’s sense of responsibility to the people of Bespin leads him to make a bad deal. The Empire, who wants to capture Han, arrived at Bespin before they did. Lando makes a deal, to give up Han in order to secure autonomy and peace on Bespin. Unfortunately for Lando, Darth Vader decides to change the deal, and Lando is in a no-win situation.
Luckily for him, he has Princess Leia and Chewbacca to take charge. When Lando sees how badly his deal is going, he decides to throw in with Leia and Chewie. At first, Chewie is understandably disinclined to trust the man, but Leia convinces him. Lando initiates an evacuation of Bespin, doing his duty to his people one last time.
Although Lando, Leia, and Chewie are unable to save Han, they do manage to escape Bespin free of the Empire’s clutches. They even manage to save Luke Skywalker, who was near death after a duel with Darth Vader. Lando accompanies our heroes back to the Rebellion, determined to do right by Han.
Lando works with Luke and Leia to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt. He manages to get a position in Jabba’s palace as a guard, where he is able to keep an eye out. Later, Lando and Han save each other when they are above the pit of Karkoon. It seems like all has been forgiven, and the two are friends once more.
Lando doesn’t leave once he’s repaid his debt to Han, though. When our heroes return to Rebel space, we learn that Lando has been promoted to a general in the Rebel fleet. He’s done good work for them, but he will do more: the attack on the second Death Star is approaching.
While Han and company go to Endor to disable to shield around the Death Star, Lando leads the attack on the station itself. He flies the Millenium Falcon and does serious damage. His quick thinking also helps when the plan turns out to be a trap. Thanks to Lando and Wedge Antilles, the Rebellion is able to destroy the Death Star — with the Emperor on it at the time.
Post-Endor, things are a bit up in the air for Lando. In the Expanded Universe, he has many more adventures. Lando continues his friendship with Han and Leia and works with them several more times to save the galaxy. Lando even eventually ends up marrying Tendra Risant. Though he sets out to marry for money, he manages to find love along the way.
Given that the EU is no longer canon, I’m not sure where Lando ends up after Return of the Jedi. He has so far not appeared in any of the new trilogies, much to fans’ chagrin. Lando has always been a fan favorite, so where is he? Hopefully, we find out soon.
Why is Lando Calrissian Bae?
Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, have you seen Lando Calrissian? I mean, let’s be real, Lando has always been the sex symbol of the Star Wars universe. So many capes… Billy Dee Williams was a breakout hit in the original trilogy, and fans have been swooning over his portrayal for nearly 40 years.
Butthen. Donald Glover hashtag blessed our screens. Going into Solo, a lot of the talk was that people could care less about Han Solo, but Glover’s Lando was going to blow us all away. And while I think Alden Ehrenreich was great as Han, they weren’t wrong about Lando. Donald Glover is always hot, honestly, but he brings Lando Calrissian to a whole new level.
Honestly, what do I even write here? How could anyone not think of Lando Calrissian as the ideal bae? What argument could I possibly use besides duh? Let’s break it down.
Lando Calrissian will charm the pants off of anything. I don’t care if you’re human, mechanical, plant or mineral, no one is immune to the charms of this suave gambler. Qi’ra is a high ranking official in a galactic crime syndicate, but even she turns into a teenage girl when talking about Lando.
The original trilogy painted Lando as a charmer right off the bat. He schmoozes with the best of them. While Leia at least does not give in to his flirting, that’s mostly because she’s in love with Han. Otherwise, I have no clue how anyone would resist Lando.
Let’s be fair, Lando is not a hero. At least, he’s not a stereotypical hero. In Solo, he cheats at sabaac and doesn’t hesitate to leave Han behind when the going gets tough. In Empire, he sells out his friend to the Empire. But what Lando is is likable. Even knowing he cheated at cards, you still swoon when he smiles. And you still root for him in Empire, even after his betrayal.
Part of that is because Lando represents character growth. We can love him in Solo because we know he will eventually be a hero. And we cheer for him in Empire and Return of the Jedi because he owns up to his mistakes and tries to rectify them. You have to love a character who is capable of growing and becoming better.
But let’s also be real: part of it is because, suave as he is, Lando is just an enjoyable character. Who cares if he cheats at cards? He’s fun and unfairly good looking.
Also, can we talk about how many boxes Lando checks off in terms of representation? Star Wars has not always been ideal on the diversity front, but Lando definitely marks a few steps forward.
In Empire Strikes Back, Lando was the first majorStar Wars character to be anything other than white. In A New Hope, everyone with a speaking role was white. James Earl Jones voiced Darth Vader, to be fair, so Billy Dee Williams was not the first black actor to appear in Star Wars. But Lando was the first time that a major Star Wars character was noticeably black.
We’ve had several Star Wars movies in the nearly 40 years since Empire, but the movies are still majorly white. Rogue One came close with a beautifully diverse cast, but there are still a surprisingly small number of black characters in a galaxy far, far away. So maybe Lando’s recurring fan favor will push Disney toward future increases in diversity.
Solo continues the trend of having Lando break barriers by making Lando pansexual. While this does not overtly come up in the film — there is a subplot about Lando potentially being romantically interested in L3, who is a droid but coded as female, so it’s up for debate, and Lando flirts with Han — the filmmakers and Donald Glover have confirmed that Lando is pan.
Just in time for Pride month, can I say how great it is to not only have a major character coded as queer but pan? Pansexuality is still highly misunderstood, so to have Lando directly labeled as pan is fantastic. Pan representation is wildly low, so I can speak at least for myself when I say Lando is more than welcome in our community.
What’s Not To Love?
Lando Calrissian is an utterly enjoyable character and has been for almost 40 years. Ever since his first appearance in Empire Strikes Back, right up to last month’s Solo, Lando has been charming audiences left and right with his winning smile and entertaining personality. There’s a reason he’s been a fan favorite for so long.
In a franchise that is often plagued with a lack of diversity, Lando checks off a lot of boxes. Star Wars’ first black character with a major role and first confirmed queer character? He is working double time to give us the diverse galaxy we deserve.
But Lando isn’t just great because he fills some diversity quota. He’s just a truly enjoyable character. This is a man who has an entire closet full of capes. How could you not love that? Lando Calrissian is suave, charming, anti-heroic, and utterly relatable.
Lando Calrissian is out for number one. You have to respect that. But that’s not all he is. If he was only a selfish jerk, no one would like him. Instead, Lando has depth and many layers. He loves his sarcastic droid. He regrets his actions when betraying a friend, but does right by his people on Bespin. Most importantly, he grows and changes.
Lando Calrissian is an icon, and we don’t deserve him. So, of course, please give us more Lando. All the Lando. We’re waiting, Disney.