Lando Calrissian Donald GloverLando Calrissian Donald Glover
Lando Calrissian Donald Glover

With Lando Calrissian, ‘Solo’ Subtly but Deftly Pushes Sexual Boundaries

In the words of Donald Glover himself, how can you not be pansexual in space?
June 4, 2018
9 mins read

If you’re a true “Star Wars” fan, then you’ve probably already watched “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” In the film, viewers get an inside look into young, studly Han Solo’s life and how he became one of the most notorious pilots in the galaxy.

Although the plot of the movie centers around Solo’s humble beginnings on planet Corellia and his journey to becoming a hero, people seem to be focusing on a different character: Lando Calrissian. Played by Donald Glover (better known as Childish Gambino), Calrissian is a charismatic gambler with an extensive cape collection and a sexuality that’s opening up a new world for the “Star Wars” genre.

Writers of the “Solo” movie have confirmed that Calrissian does, in fact, portray a pansexual individual in the film. If you watch just closely enough, you can pick up subtle hints of Calrissian’s carefree, open attitude, but these can easily go missed if you’re not aware of them or not looking.

Pansexuality, in a nutshell, describes someone who feels unlimited in terms of their sexual choice in regard to biological sex, gender or gender identity. Some people refer to pansexual individuals as being “gender blind.”

So, how does pansexuality differ from bisexuality? Why doesn’t Calrissian just represent someone who is attracted to both men and women? Well, this is where things get interesting. While bisexuality is limited to just two genders, pansexuality indicates that there are more than two, and frankly, they like ’em all. And wouldn’t this make sense? In a galaxy full of bizarre creatures and talking drones, why limit yourself to just one specific type?

Obviously the “Star Wars” films depict a reality much different than our own (who knows how long and how far away this galaxy really was), but the idea of Lando Calrissian being pansexual goes to show that not everything has to be put inside a box. The identity of pansexuality has only emerged within the past few years, which is why it’s a term that many might not yet be familiar with or even understand.

Lando Calrissian Donald Glover
In “Solo,” Glover portrays the debonair Lando Calrissian as sexually adept, as well as open-minded. (Image via ComicBook)

In an interview with SiriusXM, Glover explained that he knew from the get-go that Calrissian’s character was pansexual. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to watch the interview, which can be found on YouTube. When asked his thoughts on this portrayal of Calrissian, Glover says, “How can you not be pansexual in space? There’s so many things to have sex with.”

Even more interesting than Glover’s take on Calrissian’s sexuality may be the fact that none of the other actors/actresses even knew this had been established. Alden Ehrenreich, who plays young Han Solo, was unaware of this portrayal of Calrissian. And maybe that was for the best. Had the other characters known this, perhaps they would have acted or thought differently in regard to Calrissian’s persona.

One of the major debates surrounding the emergence of Calrissian’s sexuality is that it contradicts how he is viewed in the older films. In Episode V, “The Empire Strikes Back,” Calrissian is the administrator of the majestic Cloud City. He is a well-respected, smooth-talking ladies’ man who falls victim to Darth Vader’s evil ways, but stays loyal to the Rebellion in the end and rescues Chewbacca and Leia from the Empire.

In the “Han Solo” film, he is still a smooth, quirky gambler who loves a challenge, but instead of just being a ladies’ man, he’s an everything man. Perhaps this pansexual representation of Lando Calrissian is what he was destined to be all along — open to just about anything.

A few questions have surfaced since pansexuality has become more widespread: Is it a slippery slope? Is opening up the idea of an individual having no preference to gender safe? Does pansexuality lead to social perversions like pedophilia and attraction to inanimate objects?

Although these are logical concerns, the principles behind pansexuality have to do with consensual people who may identify as something other than male or female. And as a man of many talents who can swoon anyone, Lando Calrissian seems to fit this mold perfectly.

From the moment Calrissian is displayed on screen, viewers should be able to pick up his flirtatious and carefree vibes. For instance, during one scene in which Han, Lando and his droid, L3-37, Chewbacca and Qi’ra (Han’s love interest) board the Millennium Falcon for a dangerous mission for which they’re promised a hefty reward, Calrissian says to Han, “You might want to buckle up, baby.” Subtle, right? Just one guy being a little flirty with another guy.

Perhaps the most tell-tale sign of Calrissian’s pansexuality actually comes from the relationship with his droid partner, L3-37. L3 is a sassy robot who has no problem voicing her opinions to Calrissian. The dialogue between L3 and Calrissian was an aspect of the film that I really enjoyed.

When preparing for light-speed on the Millennium Falcon, Calrissian asks L3 if she needs anything before taking off, to which L3 replies, “equal rights?” A joke nonetheless, but the small comment could refer to preexisting conversations between the two about equality amongst minorities, perhaps including the LGBQT+ community.

Later in the film, the crew is in an intense battle scene to steal the precious cargo that promises an outrageous amount of money if delivered safely. L3 is shot in the middle of the turmoil, and Calrissian doesn’t hesitate to run out to her despite the chaos going on around him. He holds his droid in his arms, and there is a special moment shared between them as her AI fades out.

She repeats his name as she slips away, and Calrissian’s last words to his partner are: “I’m sorry girl. I’m so sorry.” Even more heartbreaking is the fact that Calrissian gets shot in retrieving L3 and still carries her back to the Millennium Falcon instead of leaving her to disappear in the battle ruins.

These few scenes could easily be taken with a grain of salt, but cowriter of “Solo” Jonathan Kasdan was happy to announce an LGBT character in the film: “I think it’s time, certainly, for that, and I love the fluidity — sort of the spectrum of sexuality that Donald appeals to and that droids are a part of.”

And who better to portray this than the sexy, daring Lando Calrissian?

Tori Ihnen, Fort Hays State University

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Tori Ihnen

Fort Hays State University

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