SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from Solo: A Star Wars Story — an anthology film about Han Solo. Proceed at your own risk.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is set to introduce audiences to a young Han Solo. A Han Solo who hasn’t defeated the Empire, who hasn’t met Luke Skywalker, and hasn’t make smuggling runs with the Millennium Falcon, yet. The film will also introduce a young Lando Calrissian, a Lando who isn’t running Cloud City, yet, either. While Han will meet his best friend and co-pilot Chewbacca in this film, Lando will be flying with his co-pilot, L3-37. L3 is a unique droid in the Star Wars franchise because she’s voiced by and portrayed by a female actress — a first for any leading droid in the film series.
A History of Droids
Every Star Wars movie ever made has featured droids. R2-D2, C-3PO, BB-8, K-2SO — these droids are an integral part of the Star Wars universe. BB-8 and R2-D2 are astromech droids, they help Poe Dameron and Luke Skywalker fly their X-Wings. C-3PO is a communications expert, he came in handy when Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca were kidnapped by Ewoks. K-2S0 is a security droid. He helped Jyn and Cassian hack into the data drives on Scarif.
All of these droids, though not human in nature, have been voiced, played by, or performance captured by male actors. Anthony Daniels wears C-3pO’s gold armor and voices him, Kenny Baker wears R2-D2’s armor, numerous actors contribute to BB-8’s “happy beeps”, and Alan Tudyk performance captured and voiced K-2SO in Rogue One.
So what about the ladies? Well, surprisingly Solo: A Star Wars Story will introduce a new female droid to the franchise. Her call sign is L3-37 and she is Lando’s co-pilot. L3 is voiced by and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Like Anthony Daniels before her, Waller-Bridge wore L3’s armor during the shooting of Solo.
It’s important to note that there have been female droids in the Star Wars franchise before, like TC-14, just not prominent ones. In fact, keen-eyed Star Wars fans have assembled a full-list of female droids in a great thread here. In addition to being a female droid, L3 is also not an astromech or a communications droid. According to the recently released book Last Shot, L3 is a collection of other droids, hence being “self-made”. According to her, she has been augmenting herself for years, salvaging old droid parts to build and repair her body.
L3’s main parts and programming, however, are that of a protocol droid, like 3PO. Specifically a navigation protocol droid, which explains why she’s a great co-pilot for Lando.
L3 & the Millennium Falcon
In the film, L3 is a hilarious droid, who believes in the Droid Rights. She regularly steals every scene she’s in because she’s funny and no afraid to speak her mind. As the Last Shot book explained, L3 is a navigational droid. She’s able to compute high-level hyperspace jump coordinates in just seconds. These navigational skills come in handy a few times in the film, especially when heading into and out of Kessel.
L3 meets a heartbreaking end however, as she is damaged freeing some of Kessel’s slave droids. Lando tries to rescue her, but she’s too badly hurt to survive. Her internal core, however, does survive, and to save her mind, she is patched into the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon is then able to compute a way out of Kessel and the Maelstrom because L3 is now part of the ship.
So, every time Han worked on the navigation of the Falcon in the original trilogy of films, he was interfacing with L3. Nerdist even noticed that C-3PO spoke directly to L3 during Empire Strikes Back, noting that she had a very “interesting dialect”. It’s bittersweet that L3 didn’t survive Solo, but she will live on inside the Falcon forever. Technically, we have her to thank for saving Han and Chewie’s lives 10 times over because of her keen navigational skills inside the hyperdrive.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is currently in theaters.