Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra – What We Know of the Enigmatic Character in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’
Before Han met Leia, Qi'ra is the woman of influence in the space smuggler's younger days.
Solo: A Star Wars Story did more than just introduced us to a young Han Solo, played brilliantly by Hail, Caesar!'s Alden Ehrenreich. Directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), the Star Wars standalone film also presented fans with the enigmatic character Qi'ra, played by Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke.
A character that is new to the Star Wars Universe, the early word we had on Qi'ra was that she is a femme fatale. After watching Solo—and reading the canon Star Wars novels, Most Wanted and Solo: Expanded Edition—it's clear that Qi'ra is a complex character who is not only intelligent and resourceful, but also someone who can look after herself, with survival in a cruel Empire-infiltrated galaxy foremost in her mind.
In addition to her shocking link-up with that surprising cameo at the end of Solo (more on that later), it is thus not hard to understand why many fans are keen to see Qi'ra in more adventures, noth on-screen and on print.
Here is what we know of the intriguing Qi'ra. (Warning: Spoilers ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story, Most Wanted and Solo: Expanded Edition).
1. Qi'ra has a tough childhood.
When we first meet Qi'ra at the start of Solo, she and Han are teenage scrumrats who have to steal and scam on the streets of Corellia for Lady Proxima's notorious gang, White Worms. From Most Wanted, we learned that unlike Han who has parents whom he doesn't like to talk about, Qi'ra was an orphan who grew up in Silo, a hellish slum in Coronet City. Life with the White Worms was marginally better, and by age 18, Qi'ra worked her way up to Head Girl thanks to her smarts and resourcefulness.
She didn't get along with Han at first—he's impulsive, she's a planner—but eventually they fell in love and schemed to escape Corellia together. In Solo, when the opportunity to escape arises, the pair is cruelly separated as Qi'ra is apprehended by the White Worms while Han manages to escape. Needless to say, the poor girl had a hard time upon her return to the gang.
2. Qi'ra leads a new life with Crimson Dawn.
When we next see Qi'ra in Solo when she reunited with Han years later, she’s a cool, sophisticated woman who is now the trusted lieutenant of Dryden Vos, head of criminal syndicate Crimson Dawn. But as Emilia Clarke hinted in an EW interview, "If you've got a really glamorous lady in a really sordid environment, you kind of know that maybe the glamour is hiding a few rough roads.”
From the Expanded Edition novel, we learned that Qi'ra was sold to Crimson Dawn. Dryden later rescued Qi'ra from a dangerous situation and hence owed him a life debt. She may have better food and clothes—a dream Qi'ra long harbored as divulged in Most Wanted—but she's also branded for life as she bears the Crimson Dawn symbol on her neck and forearm.
She also warns Han later that he doesn't know of “the things" she has done—in Forces of Destiny, Weequay pirate Hondo (The Clone Wars) reveals that Qi'ra has a bounty on her head during her time with the crime cartel—but one thing for sure, Qi'ra is a survivor who knows how to think quickly on her feet to get out alive during difficult situations.
3. Qi'ra is no shrinking violet.
As Dryden's top lieutenant, Qi'ra does more than just manages parties and servants on board the Crimson Dawn yacht. She also conducts trade deals with partners, makes high-level decisions, and deals with rogues like Tobias Beckett. During the Kessel mission in Solo, not only does she efficiently demonstrates to Lando Calrissian's co-pilot droid L3-37 that she is an accomplished practitioner of the martial art Teräs Käsi, she is also adept with grenades and blasters. And as Dryden finds out near the end of the film, Qi'ra is equally deadly with a sword as well.
4. Qi'ra knows what kind of person Han really is.
“I might be the only person who knows what you really are.” Ever since we heard Qi'ra says this line to Han in the very first Solo: A Star Wars Story teaser trailer, we've been wondering what she meant. Well, it is something that fans have known all along - that the cocky, tough-talking pilot-cum-smuggler is "the good guy".
Which is why Qi'ra knows that Han will give up a lucrative payout from the coaxium they stole from Kessel in order to help Enfys Nest and her marauders set up the first faction of the Rebellion. That is also why she knows it's better for Han to have the loyal Chewie by his side and not her, someone who has committed atrocious acts in the name of Crimson Dawn.
5. Qi'ra protects Han by putting herself in danger.
As it turns out, Dryden actually answers to a bigger boss in Crimson Dawn and he is none other than the former Sith Lord known as Darth Maul whom fans of The Clone Wars and Star War Rebels know to be very alive and well during the Solo timeline. It is very likely that Qi'ra chose to lie to Maul that it was Beckett who killed Dryden for the coaxium loot in order to protect the man she loves—and his Wookiee friend—from Maul's wrath (and we know what a temper he has). But by doing so, she puts herself in grave danger.
As starwars.com explained, by agreeing to meet Maul at Dathomir, Qi'ra not only "continues to operate within the murderous underground", she is also "stepping onto a planet steeped with violence... the very den of the dark side." Not to mention, as Maul voice actor Sam Witwer pointed out in The Star Wars Show, the fact that Maul is holding an Inquisitor double-sided lightsaber also means he’s on the Empire's most wanted list...
In the Han and Lando novel, Last Shot, it is hinted that Qi'ra has become someone whom an older Han would not even mention by name. It will really be intriguing to find out just what happens to Qi'ra when she meets up with Maul.
Which is why an ardent faction of Solo fans has a running campaign to champion #MakeSolo2Happen for any remote chance of a sequel or story continuation despite Solo's "dismal" box office showing of $393 million. Whatever the case, Qi'ra is too fascinating a character not to be featured again in future Star Wars media, be it film, cartoon, novel or comic.
2022 Update: Qi'ra Reigns in Crimson Dawn
In 2021, Solo fans were thrilled when Qi'ra popped up in the canon comic book series Star Wars: The War of the Bounty Hunters, which showed that the intriguing character was alive and well up to the time when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Not only Qi'ra was calling the shots at Crimson Dawn--what did she do to her boss Maul in Dathomir??--she even took on a fight with Darth Vader!
Qi'ra's adventures in the Star Wars underworld continues with yet another canon comic book series, Star Wars: Crimson Reign (2021-2022). Would we see her make a return to live-action? Let's hope so!
Solo: A Star Wars Story is available on digital from September 14, 2018 and on 4KUHD/Blu-ray/DVD from September 25, 2018. Check out the official in-home trailer below (which includes a funny deleted scene at the end):