(WASHINGTON POST) - When Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theatres this week, moviegoers will finally be able to ascertain whether Alden Ehrenreich's Han lives up to Harrison Ford's portrayal, or if the infamous directors switcheroo affected the quality of the film. But viewers will have to look off-screen for the answer to another burning question: Is Lando Calrissian queer?
Co-writer Jonathan Kasdan says yes. He "emphatically" confirmed to HuffPost website last week that the suave smuggler, played in Solo by Donald Glover and in the original trilogy by Billy Dee Williams, is pansexual.
"There's a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee's (portrayal of Lando's) sexuality," Kasdan said. "I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie. 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. He doesn't make any hard and fast rules. I think it's fun."
Glover elaborated on the screenwriter's claims earlier this week in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Williams had told Glover to "be charming", and the younger actor echoed Kasdan's words by describing Lando as someone who "doesn't have hard and fast boundaries about everything".
"How can you not be pansexual in space?" he said. "There are so many things to have sex with. I didn't think that was that weird. Yeah, he's coming on to everybody. I mean, yeah, whatever. It just didn't seem that weird to me 'cause I feel like if you're in space it's kind of like, the door is open! It's like, no, only guys or girls. No, it's anything. This thing is literally a blob. Are you a man or a woman? Like, who cares? Have good time out here."
Though a subject of speculation ever since a flirty Williams appeared on-screen in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, Lando's sexuality has never before been confirmed.
Solo tosses in a few suggestive lines here and there - at one point, he tells Han to "buckle up, baby" - and teases a romance between Lando and his droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
Lando says he would wipe the spunky droid's memory if she didn't have such a wealth of knowledge, a statement she attributes to his being in love with her. (Yes, L3 insists, droid-human relationships are possible - but she's out of his league.)
But Lando's sexuality is never made explicit, as he never acts upon these supposed feelings for Han and L3 or fesses up to them himself.
Many criticised Kasdan's comments as another instance of queerbaiting, a term that describes when fictional works hint at queer relationships - with the presumed purpose of attracting queer viewers - without actually depicting anything on-screen.
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the theoretical relationship between John Boyega and Oscar Isaac's characters has attracted as much fan support (if not more) as the one between Han and Lando, but the 2017 film seemed to disregard the chemistry by pairing Boyega's character, Finn, with a female love interest.
In 2016, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams said: "To me the fun of Star Wars is exploring the possibilities, so it seems insanely narrow-minded to say that there wouldn't be a homosexual character in that world."
Star Wars isn't the first franchise to tease queer representation rather than explicitly depict it. As one Twitter user pointed out, J.K. Rowling confirmed that Albus Dumbledore is gay years ago - a fact only hinted at in the books - but somehow allowed his sexuality to be left out of The Crimes Of Grindelwald, a David Yates film that includes a young Dumbledore and his supposed love interest Gellert Grindelwald.