Solo: A Star Wars Story | The Evolution of Han Solo
How a lovable rogue turned into a hero of the rebellion
Han Solo is undoubtedly one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars and Solo: A Star Wars Story only increased that admiration. It told a concise story that showed different stages in his life that would end up leading him to be the cynical smuggler/hero we knew in the original trilogy. So, here is a look at that evolution.
The Young Dreamer
When we first meet Han Solo he’s a rugged thug who works on the streets of Corellia for the gangster, Lady Proxima. But he has other things in mind. Like every other major hero in Star Wars (Anakin, Luke, Rey) he comes from humble beginnings and wishes to journey among the stars.
He and Qi’ra, two youngsters madly in love, both have this dream to escape Corellia and they attempt to do so. In this stage of Han’s life, he hasn’t faced any life-altering obstacles yet, until he loses Qi’Ra. This is the beginning of his evolution into the man we know. Qi’ra was always there for him. They had each other’s backs. Without her, he was, well, solo and he had to learn how to handle himself on his own.
The Naive Soldier
Three years pass and we see Han as a young soldier of the Imperial army. This is clearly not the place he would want to be but it’s where life has taken him thus far. It’s on the mud planet, Mimban, where he meets Tobias Beckett. We’ve never seen Han idolize anyone before because when we meet him later on in his life he has been through things that have turned him into the mentor rather than the mentee. At this stage in his life, however, he’s still truly a kid at heart.
You see in his eyes that he’s never had a father figure and Tobias seemingly fills that empty gap he had never possessed. He sticks to Tobias like glue (or mud in this case) and this relationship will provide some of the strongest lessons he’ll ever learn.
The New Smuggler
Later on, we see Han take on his first smuggler job. It’s during the Conveyex heist that we see Han in his piloting element for the first time. It’s also the first moment in his life when he loses a friend as Rio dies. While Han didn’t know Rio for long the loss is impactful and is one of the things that will help shape his future. The train heist also reveals that “good guy” spirit that he possesses when he chooses his friends, Chewbacca and Beckett, over the coaxium cargo. Beckett is furious but Han does what he feels is right.
It harks forward to the moment later in his life when he chooses to save Luke during the Death Star trench run instead of fleeing to the other side of the galaxy with his ultimate payday.
A Man Stuck in the Past
Han had somewhat grown in the years since he had been away from Corellia but it soon becomes apparent how innocent minded he still was when he catches up with Qi’ra again. Qi’ra, clearly, is a changed woman by the strained expression of happiness on her face but he thinks everything is back to normal. He thinks she’s the same, innocent girl who wanted to escape with him to journey among the stars, lest does he know that she’s a very different person indeed.
It’s this naive belief that she wants to be with him as much as he wants to be with her that ultimately changes him later on in the movie.
In classic Han fashion, he thinks he’s very smart and knows how to handle himself while Chewbacca and Qi’ra laugh at his ignorance. He tries to win Lando’s beloved ship from him in a game of Sabaac but doesn’t realize that he’s tackling a true swindler. It isn’t any time before he’s publicly embarrassed by the charming smuggler but this is yet another step forward in Han’s evolution because he would indeed learn from his mistakes.
Aboard the Falcon
As soon as Han steps into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon it was destined that the ship would one day be his. The look of wonder and admiration on his face speak a fascination unlike anything else we’ve truly seen from Han before. When it comes to his relationship with the Falcon it can easily be stated that it was love at first sight.
It is also during his time on the ship that he learns the lesson that will ultimately turn him into the cynical man that he was in A New Hope. Beckett, after catching Han and Qi’ra smooching in the cape closet, tells him to think everyone will betray him and he would never be disappointed. It’s a striking rule and one that Han would never forget.
The Legendary Pilot
While Han Solo may have destroyed the Millennium Falcon’s looks he would undoubtedly gain respect for being brave (or daft enough) to make the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs (if you round down.)
The Good Guy
Throughout the movie, Han tries to act like he’s a criminal just like Beckett but in actuality, he’s clearly a hero at heart. It’s why he decides to help Enfys Nest in her plight against the Crimson Dawn without hesitation. Han proves in this movie why he ended up being the rebel leader that he was later in life and why he’s one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars.
The Truth of Reality Caves In
In this post, you will notice a trend that Han is stuck in an innocent frame of mind. He believes Qi’ra wants to be with him until the end of time, he believes that people have a good side in them and that you don’t have to look at the world in a you’re-going-to-betray-me sense, and he believes that he’s super smart and understands everything. He is very, very wrong. Qi’ra practically dumps him and moves even deeper into the criminal world and Han is forced to shoot Beckett to save his own life. He believed the story was one way when in truth things were shaking out completely different.
Only Chewbacca was an honest friend who was willing to stick by Han’s side through thick and thin. (That’s why their bromance is movie gold. I love them.)
Han Solo Is Officially A Changed Man
At the end of the film, Han is a different man. It’s as if he’s aged another three years just in the span of a day as the harsh truth of reality settles in. The only woman he had ever loved was gone and his father figure was dead by his own hand. At this point in his life, the galaxy is a darker, colder place. That at times absurd confidence (or cockiness, you might say) is still there and he’s still the same self-assured Han Solo but he’s a lot more grounded in the way he views the galaxy.
But, on the good side of things, the one thing he did learn not to be conned by a smuggler again. And because of that lesson, he was able to beat Lando in a game of Sabacc and win the Millennium Falcon. It’s a glorious moment and easily one of the best feel-good scenes in the movie.
The Conclusion of Han’s Evolution
Han may not be perfect, as this movie clearly states, but one thing this film shows is that Han’s good heart never changed. He may have grown cynical hanging around a bunch of criminals but that hero within him never faded. Han would go on to achieve so many wondrous feats and even at the end of his journey in The Force Awakens that goodness within him shone brightly.
And that’s why Han Solo is one of my favorite Star Wars characters.
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Annlyel James is a Senior Correspondent of The Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter where she channels the Force frequently!