For a long time it was established EU canon that Chewbacca was freed by Han Solo and owed a life debt to him. While the Solo movie included many of the bullet points that define Han Solo’s past, no mention at all was made of the life debt. So, what does that mean? Click through for a discussion!
The Solo movie made sure to include all the important things we already knew about Han Solo’s past, that he’s from Corellia, had a short stint in the Empire as a pilot/soldier, that he helped Chewbacca escape, how he made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs (rounded down) and not least of all how he won the Falcon in a card game with Lando. The movie even showed us how Han got his last name.
But what the movie didn’t do at all is give us any mention of a life debt that Chewbacca might owe Han. In fact, it can be said that there probably is no life debt at all.
In my opinion it was a good decision by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan not to include a life debt. I always found the concept somewhat odd. Why exactly does Chewbacca stay with Han for all these decades? Because of his life debt? Because they are best friends? Including a life debt introduces some ambiguity into the relationship between Chewbacca and Han. While it is absolutely certain that the two were best friends it’s even more poignant when Chewbacca stays with Han out of his own free will instead of some obligation he might feel due to some Wookiee custom.
The movie makes it clear that Han asks Chewie for his opinion again and again, whether he wants to participate or not, it’s established that Chewbacca is his own free Wookiee and can do whatever he wants and is under no obligation. Han even lets Chewie go when he wants to free other Wookies. I believe the decision not to include the concept of a life debt strengthens and deepens the close friendship between Han and Chewbacca, because it’s made clear that Chewbacca likes Han, likes being the co-pilot of the Falcon, likes living a smuggler’s life, which is why he stays with him at the end of the movie – and not because he owes Han something.
In my opinion the life debt was a problematic concept from the very beginning and I don’t miss it.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Or do you think Chewbacca may still owe Han a life debt, but hasn’t told Han about this concept yet?
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