The following includes spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
For a film that “nobody” wanted and “nobody” is clamoring to see, Solo: A Star Wars Story spawned a surprising number of thinkpieces.
The infamous “Kessel Run” is at the center of many of those stories.
“According to the new canon revealed in Solo, the Kessel Run is normally 20 parsecs long, and the mines are now controlled by an organization of drug dealers, the Pyke Syndicate,” wrote Forbes’ JV Chamary. “In the film, Han and crew don’t smuggle spice, but a raw material for hyperspace fuel called ‘coaxium,’ which is stored in vaults under the mines. That cargo is kept cool in canisters and must reach a refinery before it gets too warm and explodes. As crime lord Dryden Vos says, to deliver the coaxium in time, “You’d need an incredibly fast ship and a brilliant pilot.”
The ship and the pilot were conveniently available, so Chamary says Solo sets out to solve “The Kessel Run Problem.”
To Run Or Not To Run
To many, this was a problem that need not be solved. You can add Jonathan Kasdan to the number of fans who wanted Solo to avoid that particular detail.
I said ‘Really, do we have to?’ Because it’s such a complicated bit of logic, and solving it was really challenging. We spent a lot of time arguing about how it could work [and how] the language of what [Han] says in that one scene shot years ago that you know George [Lucas] was just sitting there thinking, This sounds cool: ‘I did it in 12 parsecs’ — could be flushed out into a fully fledged coherent sequence that was satisfying and fun. I’m thrilled with how it came out, but it was one of the daunting elements of this always.
However, Lawrence Kasdan–or the Kasdan who wrote the Empire Strikes Back–very much wanted to tackle this essential moment.
The elder Kasdan told the Times:
I was drawn to take the job because it suggested to me [that] I get to see how he’s formed, I get to see how he met Chewie — because this is really a love story between them — and very quickly I thought, ‘We’ve heard a lot about the Kessel Run. I want to see it.
So, we got to see it, too. But did we understand it? I’ll admit I was not completely sure.
Star Wars Cliff’s Notes: Solo’s Kessel Run
Chamary “helped” out, writing:
Although the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (without using a wormhole), the movie states “You can’t plot a direct course to Kessel.” This applies at a small scale, flying through normal space in places like the Maelstrom, but also to a large jump across the galaxy in hyperspace, as there are many dangerous obstacles to avoid, everything from tiny micrometeoroids to huge star clusters. So instead of going directly from A to B, a ship would have to travel from A to Z via points B, C and D etc, meaning that ships could take different paths to Kessel.
Don’t worry, Charary provides a diagram.
The Kessel Run in Legends
If you need more, have a look at a pre-Solo video produced by Star Wars Explained. The clip includes a guess about the new movie’s Kessel Run that comes awfully close to what was featured.