A lot has been said about Star Wars’ first LGBTQ character, Lando Calrissian. Donald Glover, who plays Lando in the recently released “Solo,” has stated that it’s virtually impossible not to be pansexual in space.
Pansexuality is defined as romantic, sexual, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of sex or gender identity. Lando undoubtedly loves regardlessly.
However, what was most interesting about Lando was his relationship between his first mate, L3-37. The droid isn’t human, but even differs from the other droids including BB-8, R2-D2, and even C3PO in its personality and the noticeably added layer of sexuality. L3 is an outspoken advocate of droid rights and acknowledges the sexual tension between itself and Lando even if the audience won’t.
Perhaps the movie was too advanced in this regard or it may have been an issue of translating the sexuality of a droid that isn’t obvious to the audience. L3 isn’t masked by the usual humanoid skin we find in the sexy androids portrayed in “Blade Runner” or “Battlestar Galactica.” Without this added benefit, it’s easy to laugh off the death of L3 as another robotic casualty. That is, until we see the emotion in Lando’s face as he holds L3 when it is beyond repair or should we say mortally wounded.
It is here that the writer must show his limitations in perceiving this kind of (forgive me) universal love. But this is the boundary pushing impact of Lando’s sexuality. It pushes our preconceived notions of what love looks like, quite literally in this case. In Lando, we see the limitless quality of the love he has for a droid who looks nothing like us and yet feels and acts quite as we do.
This is more apparent when you realize that Lando’s loss of L3 is felt considerably more than Han’s loss of Kira or Beckett’s loss of Val. The film didn’t do a good job of making the audience care or empathize with Val or Kira, we barely knew them. But L3 is familiar. It isn’t personified for comedic purposes, although it is funny.
The humor we find says more about us than it does about the droid. We laugh when L3 tries to free other droids and establish its “wokenness,” but it ends up more human than the actual humans in the film. The scene where Lando holds L3 becomes the only discernible emotional core of it.
This is a good thing. Even though Lando’s and L3’s love may be lost in translation, it opens up the possibility of a variety of love stories and plot lines. Not just between human and alien or droid, but between anyone and anything with the capability to love. Perhaps one day, we won’t just see the pragmatism of Lando’s pansexuality, but the necessity of it to bridge those different from ourselves with a love regardless.
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Written in VA. An MFA graduate in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.