Annlyel continues her series focusing on the defining moments of the heroes and villains of the Star Wars universe.
Han Solo is one of the greatest characters that has ever appeared in Star Wars. In fact, he is the character that put Harrison Ford on the map and helped make him into the iconic actor that he is today. I’m excited to share the moments that have made Han Solo into the beloved character that he is to this day. Enjoy!
(This will be a long read.)
1. Escaping Lady Proxima
Han Solo has always been one to think on his feet. He doesn’t create elaborate plans but he can make something work off the fly. In his daring escape to leave Corellia with his first love, Qi’ra, he concocted a way to bamboozle Lady Proxima just long enough for them to make their escape. And he did all of this with a rock, showing his ingenious survivability.
Han was an orphan, living the life of a criminal on the harsh streets of Corellia. He only went by the name of Han but it wasn’t long before his solo route in life got him the last name that would stick with him to the end of his days, Han Solo.
2. Defying the Empire
This segment pertains to two scenes. In a deleted scene for Solo Han was in TIE fighter pilot training. He would end up wrecking a TIE as he refused to conform to the Empire’s way of flying (that’s why TIE pilots are always getting blown up by rebel fighters. 😒) It was the first sign of the rebel in him.
And later on, after an intense battle on the muddy planet, Mimban, he and a squadron of soldiers were to prepare for yet another grueling venture into enemy territory. He made a comment out of turn and even went as far as to imply that the Empire was doing wrong by killing the natives of the planet. This scene showed that despite joining the Empire for survival he would never share the tyrannical views as the galactic-dominating faction.
3. Knowing Shyriiwook
Being on the streets of Corellia meant having to adapt to the world around him. Like Rey, that meant he learned quite a few languages along the way, including the one that would save his life; Shyriiwook, the language of the Wookiees. If he hadn’t known Shyriiwook he would’ve been killed and wouldn’t have gone to get to know the Wookiee that would become his galactic BFF.
4. A Stunning Loss
Han Solo also learned how to gamble on Corellia. As a child, he was one of the greatest players of the tense card game, Sabaac, and it made him cocky. He, however, had never met a true swindler before, that is until he came face to face with the suave smuggler himself, Lando Calrissian.
It was his first lesson in the crooked dealings of the real world but it was a lesson he would learn from.
5. That First Launch into Hyperspace
The Millennium Falcon is a Corellian YT-Model Freighter, meaning when Han stepped aboard that ship it was as if the ship was made for him. Its beautiful interior called to him and it wasn’t long before the young smuggler was in love with the ship. Not to mention that first jump into hyperspace, which by the way, was his first time ever going into hyperspace. That must’ve been something special.
6. Briefly Parting with Chewbacca
Chewbacca and Han had acquired a closeness throughout the duration of the film but it was in the Spice Mines of Kessel that that friendship was tested. When Chewie wanted to help his kin Han didn’t have to aid him but he did, throwing him one of the electric prods to help him in battle.
It is a moment of kindness that ultimately made Chewbacca realize that he wanted to remain with his newfound friend later in the Kessel sequence.
7. The Kessel Run
The mythical tale that we’ve been hearing since the very first Star Wars movie is the infamous Kessel Run in, according to Han, under twelve parsecs. How he achieved such an unbelievable feat was not common knowledge until Solo arrived in theaters. Suddenly we were able to watch the feat that would make Han Solo famous across the galaxy.
8. The Good Guy
Throughout Solo, Han tried to constantly prove that he was just as tough and ruthless as the bad guys but Qi’ra saw through his guise. He was the good guy pure and simple. It’s this goodness that made him devise the plan to swindle Dryden Vos out of the coaxium and give it to Enfys Nest to support the rebellion. A plan that succeeded by the way.
9. Han Shot First
If you’re a Star Wars fan then you know about the infamous debate on whether Han or Greedo shot first. Lawrence and Jon Kasdan resolved the issue in an instant as he had Han shoot Tobias Beckett first in just as Beckett was preparing to kill him. It was a cynical lesson that Beckett taught him (“trust nobody” he told him) and he took it to heart.
Maybe he should’ve remembered that lesson when he faced his son.
10. Winning the Millennium Falcon
Earlier in the movie Han was beaten in a game of Sabaac due to Lando’s swindling but Round 2 would prove more fruitful for the young smuggler. In an epic rematch, Han and Lando were at it again. The stakes were high, the tension was palpable, and Lando’s confidence was through the roof…that is until he realized his card tucked away in his sleeve that would usually win him the game was missing.
Slamming his deck of cards on the table Han won with flying colors, his words “Fair and square” echoing in Lando’s ears.
This is an instant homage to The Empire Strikes Back when Han reminds Lando about the Millennium Falcon, “Remember, you lost her to me fair and square.” I love it!
11. Meeting Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker
When we first meet Han Solo in A New Hope we have no idea who he is. He’s a smuggler, a supposedly fantastic pilot, and he’s the man who’s going to take these two mysterious folks across the galaxy to the Alderaan system. Han, at this time of his life, didn’t care about anything except for money and can you blame him? He had a debt to Jabba the Hutt and he knew if he didn’t pay it off he would be in big trouble.
He had no clue that this mysterious old man and this young kid would end up changing his life.
12. Rescuing A Princess
Han can sometimes be a scoundrel. He didn’t have anything to do with you unless you were going to pay him some money. When Luke told him he would get paid handsomely for rescuing the captured princess he was all in on the idea. When Han met Princess Leia for the first time he tried to be the boss of the situation but she, of course, wasn’t having it. He was stunned and immediately became attracted to the feisty princess.
He tried to pretend that he didn’t care about her wellbeing and that all he wanted was money but the truth was that he was infatuated with the princess and didn’t want to see any harm come to her, leading him to one of the most heroic moments.
13. Saving the Day
Han tried to act like a heartless individual whose only love was money but remember, he’s the “good guy.” He might not have wanted to admit it but he obtained a serious fondness for the young kid, Luke Skywalker, and he definitely liked the princess. He knew if he left them to perish by the hands of the Empire the pang of guilt would never leave his conscience.
He rushed back to help them and, as fate would have it, he appeared at the right moment, ultimately saving Luke Skywalker from Darth Vader and further aiding in the destruction of the first Death Star. Han was ecstatic. They had saved the day but most importantly he saved his newfound friends.
14. The Medal Ceremony
While Han was, of course, proud to obtain a medal for his incredible bravery and accomplishment for destroying the Death Star his focus was not on the ceremony but rather on the beautiful princess in front of him.
As Leia presented the medals resplendent in her white dress, braided hair, and silver necklace, he might as well have been salivating, in a Han sort of way. This scene, while it celebrates the blossoming of these new heroes, also subtly implies the eventual relationship that Han and Leia would end up having.
15. Going To Save A Friend
When Han found out that Luke never returned to the rebel base after his patrol he immediately went out into the snowy tundra oblivious to the incredibly dangerous conditions. This shows how far he had come since we first met him in A New Hope. Luke had become one of his best friends and he was willing to freeze to death to save him. That highlights Han Solo’s immense bravery as well as reiterating his good nature.
17. That First Kiss
It’s pretty obvious that one of the most memorable moments from The Empire Strikes Back was that first kiss that Han and Leia shared on the Millenium Falcon because of the suspense that led up to it. Han and Leia had been flirting with each other since they basically laid eyes on one another, in a strange, feisty way but they were flirting nonetheless. When they were forced to escape Hoth together Han took that as the perfect opportunity to make his move.
Leia had unknowingly trapped herself in that small room aboard the Falcon and Han knew it. (He knew the ship better than anyone, except for Lando.) He knew no matter what she tried to do or say she wouldn’t be able to escape him this time and he was reveling in the fact that he finally had her where he wanted her.
As he leaned in closer and closer all of the fight slowly went out of Leia and when their lips touched the cat-and-mouse game that they had been playing was finally over. It was undoubtedly one of Han’s defining moments, for that kiss led to them becoming married and eventually having a child, the future Kylo Ren. *shudder*
18. “He’s My Brother.”
While Han knew Leia loved him he still wasn’t completely confident that he had her complete affection due to her obvious feelings for Luke. The rebels had destroyed the second Death Star and had defeated the Empire but while everyone was celebrating Han was worrying about Leia putting him to the side and enjoying the celebration with the true hero, Luke Skywalker.
Those worries were immediately swept away as Leia reassured him that she had his undivided love by telling him that Luke was her brother. He was immediately confused but then, as her words sunk in, he realized that the contest was over. Leia was his and there was no more worrying for him to do. It truly was one of the happiest moments of his long life. Unfortunately, the good times wouldn’t last.
19. Refinding the Millenium Falcon
Thirty years had passed and Han’s story was not ideal. He and Leia had separated after their only child, Ben Solo, turned to the dark side. Diverging to their own paths Han was back to his old ways of smuggling. During one of his adventures, however, he ended up losing the Millenium Falcon. I can’t imagine how he felt having to trek across the galaxy without his ship so imagine the joy he felt when he found his old friend, the Falcon, once again.
Then he found aboard the Millenium Falcon three stowaways; Rey, Finn, and an astromech droid named BB-8. He had no idea that these two young adults would end up launching him into a wild, final adventure that would lead to his eventual destiny.
20. Seeing Ben Solo
During the Battle of Takodana Han Solo saw, to his horror, his son, Ben Solo as the evil agent of the First Order, Kylo Ren. He hadn’t seen his son in years. Imagine how he felt seeing the monster that he had become. It was a tragic moment and the beginning of Han’s eventual end.
21. A Reunion with Leia
Han and Leia, due to Ben’s turn to the Dark Side, had parted ways and hadn’t seen each other in years. Even though they had split under hard circumstances when they locked eyes once again no love was lost. Leia was still her tiny, feisty self that she had always been and Han felt a sense of solace seeing her again. Unfortunately, the brief happiness between them was shortlived as he shared with her seeing their son. They, at that moment, were reliving the nightmare of their son turning evil all over again and it was heartbreaking to watch.
22. A Final Goodbye
Han and Leia had squabbled many times throughout their relationship but at the end of every fight, they still loved each other. As Han was set to leave the Resistance Base on D’Qar Leia basically told him, once again, that she loved him. It was a touching scene that harked back to a time when they were deeply in love and everything was much simpler in their lives. As they hugged on the tarmac of the rebel base he had no idea that that would be the last time he would see Leia. 😭
23. Han Solo Meets His Fate
Leia asked Han, if he saw their son again, to bring him home to her and when the time arrived and he found himself in the presence of his fallen child he didn’t hesitate to try to make her wish come true. This scene is one of the most intense and heartbreaking movie scenes I have ever watched in my life.
Han confronted Ben Solo, telling him to remove his mask so that he could see his son’s face. When he did get to lay his eyes on him he was relieved to see the unaltered face of the son he once knew and loved. At that moment he knew he had a chance to maybe make a difference and bring young Solo back to the light.
He told him the truth about Snoke manipulating him for his abilities, he told him that it wasn’t too late to renounce the Dark Side, but he also emphasized how much he and his wife, Leia, missed him. At that moment it seemed that Kylo was about to crack, that maybe he had gotten through to him and he would become their beloved son, Ben Solo again. This, however, was not to be.
With a violent thrust, Kylo Ren ignited his lightsaber straight through Han’s heart, ending his life in the process.
Yet even with the grip of death upon him Han still loved his son and displayed this very blatant fact to Ben Solo that he still forgave him as he stroked his face for the last time. I remember when I saw this scene for the first time. I cried like a baby. It was such a shockingly devastating way to end Han’s story but it was the most sensible ending to his life and it helped propel Kylo Ren’s story forward.
Who would’ve ever thought this incredible hero would come to such a brutal conclusion but it was what Harrison Ford always wanted. (In 1980 he wanted his character to be killed in the carbonite scene to add emotional depth to his role in the story. George Lucas, of course, refused to kill Han Solo off but Disney would make his dreams come true.)
Let’s hope Han’s death eventually steers Kylo Ren on the right path.
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!