Does ‘Back to the Future’ Exist Within the ‘Star Wars’ Universe?

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Solo A Star Wars Story Poster

Credit: Lucasfilm

So far, Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022) has been full of surprises. It’s fair to say that none of us were expecting the Star Wars prequel trilogy recap at the beginning, and not to mention a young Leia Organa (Vivien Lyra Blair), among many other unexpected things.

But one of the most surprising things about the live-action show is that it features a member iconic rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Flea” appears in Obi-Wan Kenobi as the bounty hunter Vect Nehru, who has been hired by the Inquistor Reva (Moses Ingram) to hunt the titular Jedi.

flea performing onstage with the red hot chili peppers
Credit: ABC

Flea, whose real name is Michael Peter Balzary, is the founding member and bassist of the band best known for hit records such as “Scar Tissue” and “Californication”. However, Flea, which is the name he goes by publicly, is also no stranger to film and television.

He has appeared in numerous small screen and big screen projects over the decades, but until recently, was perhaps best known for having appeared in the beloved Back to the Future Trilogy, in Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990).

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Back to the Future Part II
Credit: Universal Studios / Amblin Entertainment

In the second film in the trilogy, he plays Douglas J Needles, who works with the 2015-version of Marty McFly (Michael J Fox). His character can be seen via video call (that film gets a fair few predictions right) where he tries to goad Marty McFly into a shady business deal.

In the concluding chapter in the series, Douglas J Needles reappears when Marty McFly returns home to 1985 after managing to escape 1885’s Wild West. After reuniting with his girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Elizabeth Shue), Marty McFly turns down a street race with Needles.

Back to the Future Part III
Credit: Universal Studios / Amblin Entertainment

As it happens, Needles and his friends narrowly avoid a traffic collision as a result of their speeding, an accident Doc Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) previously warned Marty McFly about, thus completing our hero’s character arc, as he goes from hot to cool-headed.

However, a “street racer” named Needles has also been mentioned in Star Wars. In the divisive Star Wars spin-off movie Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) actually references this lesser-known Back to the Future character in an easy-to-miss Easter egg.

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han solo with cloud riders
Credit: Lucasfilm

In the Star Wars spin-off movie, while evading the Empire in a speeder, Han Solo says to Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), “A little something I picked up from my pal, Needles, best street racer in all of Corellia. Till he crashed and died, doing this,” before successfully performing the manoeuvre.

This, of course, is no accident. Jon Kasdan, the co-writer of Solo: A Star Wars Story,  even revealed this on his Twitter account some years ago, highlighting this major Easter egg that references the character of Douglas J Needles as seen in the Back to the Future movies.

Solo Star Wars Han and Chewie
Credit: Lucasfilm

But this doesn’t mean that the character of Douglas J Needles exists within the Star Wars universe, as Star Wars does of course take place “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”. Nevertheless, it’s pretty neat that Han Solo references a fellow iconic franchise, and this Easter egg makes us wish for an epic race between the Millennium Falcon and the DeLorean!

It’s also strange that Flea, who plays Needles in the Back to the Future movies, is now part of the Star Wars franchise. Perhaps Disney and Lucasfilm missed an opportunity in not having him play the character Han Solo refers to, as the 2018 film is set shortly before Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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emilia clarke (left) and alden ehrenreich (right) in solo a star wars story
Credit: Lucasfilm

So, sadly, Star Wars and Back to the Future do not share the same universe, although there are many Easter eggs in both E.T the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and the Indiana Jones movies which suggest they may both be connected to the faraway galaxy. And with Harrison Ford having played both Han Solo and Indiana Jones, perhaps Han Solo is the key to connecting Star Wars with other movies!

But who knows — perhaps, one day, Star Wars will introduce its own multiverse and acknowledge the existence of other science fiction franchises (we can but dream of that epic Millennium Falcon/DeLorean race). The multiverse is a concept that has fast become a popular trend, owing thanks to the DC Extended Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

alden ehrenreich as han solo
Credit: Lucasfilm

As per the official Star Wars website, the synopsis for Solo: A Star Wars Story is as follows:

Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story
Credit: Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy recently came under fire from Star Wars fans for criticizing the recasting of Han Solo in the spin-off movie. Although around the time of the film’s release, many fans were vocal about their dismay at Han Solo not being portrayed by Harrison Ford (some fans even criticized minor changes that had been made to the Millennium Falcon).

Obi-Wan Kenobi has also been the target of much controversy where Star Wars fans are concerned, with actress Moses Ingram, who plays the show’s main antagonist Reva/The Third Sister, having received numerous racist messages from trolls online.

Moses Ingram as Inquisitor Reva
Credit: Lucasfilm

The horrid abuse of Ingram evokes memories of Star Wars actors Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker), Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), all of whom suffered bullying from so-called fans.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is now streaming on Disney+. It stars Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Emilia Clark (Qi’ra), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett), Thandiwe Newton (Val), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Paul Bettany (Dryden Vos), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), and Jon Favreau (Rio Durant).

solo a star wars story cast (l-r) alden ehrenrich as han solo, donald glover as lando calrissian, joonas suotamo as chewbacca, emilia clarke as qi'ra, and droid l3-37
Credit: Lucasfilm

But if you want to get an even bigger Han Solo fix, you can also stream Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), and Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015).

Related: The ‘Star Wars: Visions’ Episode That Deserves Its Own Movie

Did you notice this Back to the Future reference in Solo: A Star Wars Story? Let us know in the comments down below!

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