When you think about the ideal best friend or partner there is no better representation than The Millenium Falcon’s co-pilot, Chewbacca. Chewie, as his friends call him, is fierce, loyal, and strong and often is the only reason everyone’s favorite Corellian Smuggler doesn’t find himself 6 feet under. The Wookie is a kind-hearted being and will do anything to keep his friends safe. His piloting ability is nothing to scoff at either. The towering, lovable beast has been a mainstay in Star Wars since it all began and is about to get a whole lot more screen time in the upcoming movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Here are some need to know facts about everyone’s favorite Wookie.
Chewbacca Is Old…
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm a decision was made to erase the existing Expanded Universe in favor of creating their own version. One of the facts that crossed over from the old books (referred to as the “Legends” book by Disney) and comics is that Chewbacca is VERY old. Well not old for a Wookie, it turns out the race has a much longer lifespan than humans. The lifespan of a Wookie is actually 400 years. So even though Chewie is an epic 190 years old in the new Solo flick, in human years he really is only around 30-40 years old. Still, 190 years old and not a single grey hair? Impressive.
Epic Treehouse Dude!
Chewbacca and his Wookie brethren come from the planet Kashyyyk. It is a planet covered by massive trees that blot out the sun from the surface of the planet. So that they wouldn’t have to live on the planet floor with all the big bad nocturnal meanies the Wookies took to the trees. The large race now lives in epic and elaborate tree houses and buildings, hundreds of feet above the planet. Puts our childhood tree houses to shame right?
Do You Speak Shyriiwook?
Because that’s what Chewbacca does! We know that his sounds are more than guttural grunts and moans since both Han and Rey can understand exactly what he is saying. So if Chewie can understand Basic and they can understand Shyriiwook why don’t they talk to each other in one or the other? The same reason you can imitate a dog barking but not sound exactly the same. Wookies have different vocal chords than humans and vice versa. So, for now, we’ll have to keep relying on his friends to let us know what Chewie is saying.
We know Chewbacca as the tough, ready to fight co-pilot to Han Solo but guess what? He’s also a family man! The idea of Chewbacca having a family was first introduced in the hard to find Star Wars Holiday Special. In it, we visit Chewie and his wife Mallatobuck, his father Attichitcuk, and his son Lumpawarrump. Han lovingly calls them Malla, Itchy, and Lumpy. Yup… Lumpy. Fans wondered whether this was going to be kept canon and they finally got their answer in the book Aftermath: Life Debt. In the second book of the three-part Aftermath series, author Chuck Wendig reveals that in one of the Imperial prison camps the group liberates, Chewbacca finds his son. So if he’s a dad why is he always flying aroudn the galaxy with Han? Well…
He Owes Han A Life Debt
In the original version of his backstory, Han saved Chewbacca from Imperial slavers and in Wookie culture he now owed Solo a Life Debt. A life debt means the person serving must accompany the person who saved them and keep them safe. Chewbacca is bound by honor to keep Han safe and that is a sacred act to his people. This fact crossed over into the new canon and we’ll probably see more about what happened to cause this in the new Solo movie.
The Best Pilot In The Galaxy?
When Star Wars fans debate who the best pilot in the Galaxy is there are a lot of names thrown around. Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo. This writer personally has a Wedge Antilles tattoo so spoiler alert on my pick… But who consistently pilots their way in and out of danger, regardless of co-pilot? Chewbacca that’s who. Often thought of as Han’s co-pilot and nothing more, we consistently see Chewie piloting the Falcon through harrowing situations effortlessly with whatever co-pilot he is given. Of course there is Han, but he is also seen at the helm with Lando Calrissian, Leia, Rey… and a Porg. There is no denying Han’s abilities as a pilot but Chewie consistently pilots the fastest ship in the galaxy at an expert rate regardless of who’s sitting next to him.
Where’s The Bling?
We all know the ending the Episode IV: A New Hope. Luke pilots his X-Wing down the trench of the Deathstar as Vader quickly approaches. Suddenly the Falcon makes a triumphant return, dive bombs the Dark Lord and clears the way for Luke to destroy the massive space station. We then see a massive hall filled with Rebel military personnel and down walks our heroes, Luke, Han, and Chewie. They reach Leia and she bestows the Medal of bravery on Han, then Luke– and then that’s it. No Medal for Chewie, what the heck!? Multiple stories have tried to retcon this travesty, saying that he actually did get a medal, or that Wookies don’t believe in trophies so he wouldn’t have accepted it. I call foul. Thankfully MTV fixed it, awarding Chewbacca the Lifetime Achievement award at the 1997 Movie Awards. It was even given to him by Carrie Fisher herself. I still call for justice for Chewie though, you know why? Because…
Chewie Has Your Back
Remember that whole scene we just talked about? The Heroic scene in which the Falcon returns and saves the day? Well, it was Chewbacca’s idea to return! He was the one who talked Han into returning and helping the Rebellion. So in reality, General Solo was a bit of a jerk and the Rebellion would be nothing without Chewie.
Who’s A Good Boy?
Chewbacca is lovable, protective, and fiercely loyal. Sounds kind of like a dog right? That’s because he is a dog. Well not literally but he is based on George Lucas’ dog Indiana. An Alaskan Malamute. He truly is man’s best friend.
The Man Behind The Snout
The new Solo movie will truly be the beginning of a new era. It will be the first time in the franchise that the original actor Peter Mayhew will not be involved in the process of performing the character. He put on the suit in every film up until Episode VII: The Force Awakens and worked as a “Chewbacca Consultant” on The Last Jedi. This will be Joonas Suotamo’s first outing on his own as the beloved character. Mayhew has been a mainstay at conventions and celebrations for years and has embraced the fans and his role with open arms. He finally had to hang it all up the old bear suit due to chronic knee and back pain. Mayhew is a juggernaut of the Star Wars world and will always be loved for what he has done and it seems Suotamo understands what has been handed down to him, penning a beautiful letter of appreciation to Mayhew after his official retirement.
I for one am looking forward to the new Solo movie and getting to see more of the big furry oaf we all know an love. Check out the trailer below.