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Lando Calrissian's Entire Backstory Explained

Lando Calrissian saunters into the Star Wars universe with a sly smile and charm that could make a Wookiee blush. The Socorro native proved himself to be a fan-favorite, expanding his initial cameo in The Empire Strikes Back to future films, comics, and animation. Much like Han Solo, Lando makes a name for himself as a smuggler with loose morals and even looser lips. When he's not hitting on Han's girlfriends (or Han himself), he's stacking sabacc cards in his favor to win big.

While Billy Dee Williams eventually snagged the role, Yaphet Kotto initially turned down the part before Williams stepped in. Star Wars creator George Lucas originally tossed around the idea of making Lando a clone before he settled on the canon iteration of the character. When Disney de-canonized Lando's Legends material, much of his backstory became a blank slate. However, Disney has spent years filling up that history with new content about his past and future beyond the films. Drawn from comics, novels, and TV, here's Lando's entire backstory up until The Empire Strikes Back.

Lando gets popped

As someone who spends his time smuggling stolen goods and cheating high rollers, it's no surprise that Lando's gotten into hot water now and again. In the middle-grade novel Lando's Luck, the smuggler's crimes finally catch up with him on the planet Hynestia, where he faces imprisonment with his droid L3-37. As usual, Lando charms his way into making a deal, and Queen Forsythia Jin agrees to release him — but only if he delivers a powerful artifact to the Empire on behalf of the ruthless Queen.

After discovering that the artifact in question is needed to provide power to her tutor's home planet, young Princess Rinetta stows herself away on the Falcon to convince Lando to return the artifact to Livno III. She fails. But after Lando gets arrested for settling a different debt in the middle of his mission, Rinetta frees him and L3. Not wanting to have yet another debt on his hands, Lando helps the princess return the artifact to its rightful home before bringing the Queen's wayward daughter home.

Their safe return of her daughter softens up Queen Forsythia, also known as the "Assassin Queen." She agrees to pardon the pair despite their prison break and failure to comply with her orders for the mission. In his usual fashion, Lando manages to (sort of) do the right thing while still getting something for himself out of it.

Freeing Imperial slaves

Lando isn't necessarily known for doing the right thing, but he usually finds himself on the right side of history with a little persuasion. The Solo: A Star Wars Story tie-in comic book series, Lando – Double or Nothing, tasks Lando and L3 with freeing slaves from Imperial rule.

Kristiss, the daughter of an enslaved Petrusian, approaches Lando with the hope that he'll smuggle weapons into the Imperial Outpost on Kullgroon so that her people may have a chance to escape. With the impending change of the stormtrooper guard, it's now or never. Given the risk involved, Lando is dismissive at first, even when she offers him 1,500 credits for the completed job. She smooth talks him into getting a drink, where they're interrupted by Brushaun, a fellow gambler who claims that the smuggler swindled him out of 2,000 credits. Persuaded by a new threat of impending bodily harm and chastisement from L3, Lando seals the deal with Kristiss with a kiss.

Even after fighting their way into the post, the job doesn't prove easy. The Petrusian slaves are reluctant to escape. But no one gives an impassioned speech quite like Lando. Rhythus, Kristiss' father, convinces Lando to fire up the slaves. As usual, he succeeds, freeing the slaves and avoiding a painful death at the hands of Brushaun. Lando decides to hang up his smuggler boots and spend the rest of his days playing sabacc. 

He bats for any team

It's no secret that Lando Calrissian flirts with just about anything that moves. As often happens in fandom, his character's subtext has inspired endless debate on whether or not Lando is just a big flirt or if he is, in fact, a member of the LGBTQ+ community. After the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, writer Jonathan Kasdan set the record straight – so to speak. According to Kasdan, whose father Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Lando is pansexual.

Pansexuality is defined as "being attracted to anyone regardless of their sex, gender, or presentation." Donald Glover, Lando in Solo, told Sirius XM, "How can you not be pansexual in space?" With aliens of different species, body parts, and color, how can anyone slice Star Wars sexuality into two categories? People are chill with him dating blue Twi'leks, but draw the line at men and droids?

Billy Dee Williams told Rolling Stone that going for something topical like this, instead of an adventure, is part of the reason Solo "didn't have the success they could have had." According to many fans and critics, Star Wars cashed out on the LIGBTQ+ community without providing solid on-screen representation. Sure, L3 may accuse Han and Lando of flirting, but it doesn't go further than that. L3 also admits that she believes Lando has feelings for her, but Qi'ra's reaction to the conversation places it firmly in the "comedy relief" category. 

Co-pilots the Falcon with a woke droid

L3-37, Lando's activist-minded droid, first made her way into the hearts of Star Wars fans in Lando — Double or Nothing. However, she really cements herself as a breakout character in Solo. With a gallon of snark, she's one of the few characters in the Star Wars universe who can effectively curb Lando's shenanigans and disregard his charm. Despite their epic sass battles, L3 (written as "Elthree" when characters speak her name) continually makes her co-pilot a better, more altruistic person.

Whether she's liberating droids in Solo or freeing slaves in Double or Nothing, L3 makes Lando think about his choices and how they affect others. As much as he rolls his eyes and pretends to dismiss her, she's clearly the unofficial captain of the Falcon — and he ends up caving to her demands more often than not. Lando's decision to join the rebels in The Empire Strikes Back proves that the droid had an impact on the smuggler. Lando Calrissian is a better person because of L3-37, and her impact on the world can be felt even after death. She lives on in the Falcon's navicomputer, and in Lando's conscience. 

An intergalactic podcast

Lando's self-indulgence has always been obvious — it takes a certain kind of person to own multiple capes. This love of self extends to podcast-hosting in Lando — Double or Nothing. Depicting exaggerated versions of his (already pretty epic) adventures, Lando narrates his escapades via hologram in "The Calrissian Chronicles."

This isn't Lando blabbing into the void, however: He mentions fans multiple times in the comic series, implying that people listen to these broadcasts. Lando even records an episode in Solo. It's unclear what the technical process is for space podcasts, but here's hoping it gets covered in a future comic, novel or movie. Space mechanics are a fascinating component to Star Wars canon, and a great way to pay homage to modern technological fads. Take the way Star Wars films from the '70s feel vastly different than 2018 iterations, differentiating between their respective times in history. That makes Star Wars fascinating in our world, and makes it a richer fictional world as well.

Lando and Han (may) share an ex

Within several minutes of Lando's initial screen-time in The Empire Strikes Back, he makes multiple passes at Leia. Han, looking less than pleased, is not here for Lando's smooth-talking advances, and his face shows it. As fans later find out in Solo, this isn't the first time Han has been jealous of Lando. Apparently, the smuggler dating pool is shallow, and the two rivals may have shared a girlfriend.

Before Han's first girlfriend Qi'ra introduces Lando to Han, she waxes poetic about his accomplishments. She says, "He's attractive, too. Sophisticated, with impeccable taste and ... charisma. Not to mention his prodigious ..." Han cuts her off with, "We get it." Their past is never outwardly stated, but it's fairly obvious that Lando seduced Qi'ra with a magnetism few have turned down. And even if they didn't hook up, it's clear that she wanted to. Kind of a bold move to make in front of the ex she never actually broke up with. Though, it explains why Han doesn't want the smuggler anywhere near Leia years later.

Leaving Han to die on Savareen

Less than pleased with Han's destruction of the Falcon after completing the Kessel Run (in "less than" 12 parsecs), Lando isn't in a savior mood. Playing off of Han and Leia's iconic "I love you," "I know" moment, Lando says, "I hate you," and Han responds with his patented, "I know." Lando takes it further by saying, "I'm going to be on my ship, in my quarters, waiting for you to bring me my share." But self-preservation trumps a payout, even for Lando Calrissian.

While Lando sulks in the Falcon, waiting for Han to pay him for the coaxium excursion, the group runs into trouble with the Savareen locals. Han tries to talk his way out of the predicament, claiming that there are armed hired guns on the Falcon. Lando nopes out, flying from the danger without payment. Han finds out that the locals are victims of Crimson Dawn, and gives the power back to the people instead of taking it back to the crime syndicate run by Darth Maul. Even though Han wasn't in any real danger, Lando didn't know that, leaving his frenemy for dead. As it turns out, this wouldn't be the last time he betrayed Han Solo.

Han outcheats the cheater

You can't swindle a swindler, even in space. From their very first game of sabacc in Solo: A Star Wars Story, Han knows Lando is cheating. After losing the game he knows he should have won, Han rants to Qi'ra, telling her that the table played all of the green sylop cards already. Lando's final hand is impossible without cheating, and Han knows it. But Han bet a ship he doesn't own, so two can play at that game.

Resolved to claim what's rightfully his, Han accepts a small vial of coaxium from Savareen and heads off to find Lando at his usual spot at the sabacc table. Han sics Chewie on Lando in jest, ultimately pulling in the smuggler for a hug — or so Lando thinks. Han snags Lando's illicit green sylop card without him noticing, winning the Millennium Falcon in yet another bet. As Lando admits he initially won the Falcon in a bet himself, everything comes full circle. Without the ace up his sleeve, Lando is forced to hand over his precious ship, setting up the future of the rebellion without even knowing it.

Bribing the Ghost's crew

Without the Falcon, Lando rebrands his smuggler persona by calling himself a "galactic entrepreneur." He buys a plot of land on Lothal, intending to mine for precious metals — an occupation that the Empire doesn't look kindly on. To dig without detection, Lando has to acquire a mineral sniffing puffer pig. For that, he needs the crew of the Ghost, a band of rebels sometimes known as "the Spectres."

Billy Dee Williams lends his voice to the Star Wars Rebels episode "Idiot's Array." It opens on a game of sabacc between Lando and the Ghost's crew. Zeb bets Chopper the droid, believing his hand to be unbeatable. But with an Idiot's Array, Lando reigns supreme. Again.

Lando bribes the crew to help by promising to return their droid and "pay them handsomely." Lando swindles the crime lord Azmorigan into giving him the puffer pig by offering Hera, the crew's pilot as a trade, but she easily escapes his grasp as intended. The team outmatches Azmorigan when he confronts them on Lando's land. Lando walks away with his puffer pig, and the Ghost's crew flies away with Chopper and stolen fuel from Lando. Given that he never had the credits to pay them, it's only fair.

Stealing the Emperor's "pleasure craft"

Everyone's had that awkward moment when they accidentally steal a dictator's ride, right? That's just another Tuesday for Lando Calrissian. In the 5-part comic series, Lando, the smuggler and his cyborg partner Lobot steal Palpatine's "pleasure craft" in a heist gone wrong. Not realizing it at first, the pair are surprised by the number of star destroyers that fly after them. There's also the small fact that the ship has a guarded room of ancient Sith paraphernalia.

Palpatine employs the bounty hunter Chanath Cha, Lobot's ex, to procure the yacht, aptly called the Imperialis. The Emperor instructs her to destroy it if necessary. Complicating matters, the Sith artifacts exude an insidious anger, leading to a bout of betrayals. After multiple scuffles and the death of Lando's crew, Chanath lets Lando escape with Lobot, blowing up the ship. But the adventure is too much for Lando's comrade, whose Imperial implants fully take over his brain. Lando vows to cure him when a final message from Lobot plays. He urges Lando to get out of the game and do something good with his life. It doesn't happen right away, but Lobot eventually gets his wish.

The reluctant marksman

Fans have seen Lando pull out his blaster more than a few times, but Lando reveals that the smuggler keeps his blaster use to a minimum. Not even his team knows he's a skilled marksman. When the feline humanoids Aleskin and Pavol go dark side on Lando in the Imperialis, he tricks them into complacency. After leaning into his, "I can't use a blaster" persona, Lando charms his betrayers into making a deal. Aleskin says, "Let's see what you can do," right before meeting the wrong end of Lando's blaster. While he looks down at the body, Lando says, "let's."

Not even his pal Lobot knows that he can shoot. But as Lando puts it to his scandalized friend, most of the people who have seen Lando shoot are dead. This small section of the comic adds an intriguing level to Lando's character. While the reputation of his charm proceeds him, tricking people into thinking he can't fight takes it to a new genius level. It's clearer now how Lando escapes so many fights relatively unscathed. Everyone underestimates him, and he uses it to his advantage — and ultimate victory.

Respectability, won in a bet

Like most things in his life, Lando wins his most lucrative gig in a game of sabacc. Disney retconned most of Lando's Cloud City backstory during their takeover of Lucasfilm, but the media giant honored some of his origins in canon materials. Like the Legends media history, the Ultimate Star Wars guide confirms that Lando takes over Cloud City after winning a card game. It's only fitting that Lando becomes a moderately respectable member of society through moderately shady means.

After years of sketchy living, Lando wins the role of Baron-Administrator of Cloud City, a floating mining colony on the planet Bespin. Technically, after years of swindling randos in bars, his Baron title offers Lando a small slice of royalty. He works alongside Lobot, finally honoring his friend's wish that he'd get out of the game. From here, Lando would go on to reunite with and betray Han — only to make up for his actions by helping to win the war against the Empire. Lando has always been a captivating, charming, and multidimensional part of the Star Wars universe, but with the help of characters like L3-37, Lobot, Princess Rinetta, and even young Han, Lando finally becomes the hero he was always meant to be.