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Star Wars: Solo’s Emilia Clarke could lead a Disney+ spinoff

Lucasfilm’s theatrical Star Wars ventures admittedly reached a level of burnout by the time the sequel trilogy concluded, at least in terms of quality. The release strategy seemed solid, with mainline saga films released every other year with one-off anthologies in between. While the latter worked out for Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, things didn’t go as well for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Changing directors partway through filming and being rushed to meet a deadline just five months after the release of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi were just two of the many reasons why the film eventually became a box office bomb.

However, despite the poor commercial performance, Solo did manage to garner a moderately positive critical reception and see a boost when it was finally added to Disney+. The movie’s engaging ensemble cast made for a solid sci-fi heist adventure. Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra was among them, and she showed great potential for being expanded upon outside of movies. The twist revealing Qi’ra to be working under Darth Maul’s leadership in the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate could open up an exciting world for Star Wars to explore, especially in a serialized adventure on Disney+.

A proper deep dive into Star Wars’ seedy underworld

Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story promo material

This past winter saw the release of Lucasfilm’s latest live-action Star Wars TV series with The Book of Boba Fett. Unfortunately, the show couldn’t build up the titular bounty hunter as the compelling antihero so many people wanted him to be over 40 years ago, nor match the new high standard set by Disney+’s flagship show, The MandalorianBoba Fett was too concerned with being a pseudo-origin story that dwelled on the past and eventually turned the series into The Mandalorian season 2.5, stealing the spotlight from the intended protagonist and being too concerned with MCU-like cameos, crossovers, and Easter eggs.

And while there’s nothing wrong with giving a bounty hunter a code of honor, the show wasn’t the thrilling exploration of moral grays within the Star Wars universe’s layered underworld fans might’ve hoped for. Qi’ra is shown in Solo: A Star Wars Story to be a good person at heart, though she isn’t above getting her hands at least somewhat dirty. She and Han grew up in Corellia as unwanted orphans forced to work for gangs, and both of them learned to do what’s necessary to survive.

Split image of Qi'ra meeting Maul at the end of Solo via hologram

After being separated from Han, she embraced the survivor role further and allied herself with fan-favorite villain Darth Maul. That premise alone could warrant at least an eight-episode limited series, especially with the movie ending on such a cliffhanger. It’s unclear whether Lucasfilm would use Maul in live-action again, but there are rumors of an animated series with Sam Witwer reprising his role. The timeline from Solo to The Mandalorian gives several years’ worth of canonical room for Qi’ra to shine.

A hypothetical series could pick up right where the movie leaves off or, just as well, take place much later in the future. Thanks to the Marvel Comics Star Wars series, Qi’ra is back — now as the leader of Crimson Dawn. So while it’d be thrilling to see a mobster-themed show that details how she succeeded the imposing dark-side user, that same atmosphere could be explored equally as well in a series that starts with Lady Qi’ra at the helm.

The Lando connection

Qi'ra and Han meeting with Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo had a colorful and well-rounded cast of characters, but most would probably agree that Donald Glover’s take on the suave, younger smuggler Lando Calrissian was the biggest highlight. From his debonair appearance to how he carried himself and threw his weight around the room, Glover channeled his inner Billy Dee Williams and simultaneously made the role his own. That didn’t go unnoticed as Lucasfilm announced the Lando Disney+ series at 2020’s Disney Investor Day stream.

The only issue — aside from the incredible missed opportunity to call it “The Calrissian Chronicles” — is Lucasfilm’s bad habit of preemptively announcing new projects that end up in development limbo. Nonetheless, should Lando pan out well and feature the return of Glover’s rendition of the character, it would be the perfect excuse to work Qi’ra back into the live-action Star Wars fold.

Both Clarke as Qi’ra and Glover as Lando had great chemistry together, as did the main trio in general. And given both characters’ roles within Star Wars’ criminal underworld,– in varying capacities — it wouldn’t be difficult to work in at least a professional reunion between the two in Lando.

Of course, in this hypothetical scenario, it would be best to focus as much as possible on telling a complete and focused story. That being said, the argument could be made that Qi’ra would be a natural fit in a supporting role due to their history while carefully planting the seeds for her story without stealing the spotlight from Lando.

Back under the Disney umbrella

Split image of Qi'ra in a Solo promo poster and the MCU's Secret Invasion logo

In terms of logistics, the dots seem pretty easy to connect. Clarke is a household name after her work in the acclaimed, cultural phenomenon of a show that was HBO’s Game of Thrones — sans season 8. But even more importantly than that is how the actress already has her foot in the door of the two biggest IPs that Disney has under its umbrella.

While her Star Wars future is still unclear on the big and small screen, Disney has already had her put pen to paper for the upcoming MCU series Secret Invasion. Being in one doesn’t inherently guarantee a return to the other, but this seems a seamless transition as far as franchise turnover is concerned.

For now, Lucasfilm is still on its theatrical break from Star Wars. Instead, the studio is focusing on expanding the TV arena with more live-action and animated endeavors. And given the fact that every major streaming platform under the sun is aggressively trying to stay in the game, bringing Qi’ra back in a serialized capacity seems like free content, so long as the creative team attached handles the story with care and not like a cheap cash-grab.

On paper, all three of Solo‘s main trio would benefit from a serialized story. But due to the movie’s painfully dangling plot thread, an Emilia Clarke-led “Crimson Dawn” TV series has the potential to be the most exciting one.

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Guillermo Kurten
Freelance Writer, Entertainment
A University of Houston graduate in Print Media Journalism, Guillermo has covered sports entertainment and practically all…
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