Annlyel explores Han Solo’s embrace of the Force between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens
In 1977 audiences were introduced to Han Solo, the rugged yet charming smuggler-turned-rebel-hero. Unlike Luke Skywalker, he didn’t believe in the shenanigans of the Force or the trials of destiny that came with such a power. He believed in one thing; his blaster. So, fast forward nearly forty years and suddenly, Han Solo’s view of the Force has entirely changed. He believes in it now, even going as far as to tell the new generation of heroes about it and its incredible power holding together good and evil, the dark side and the light.
After recently rewatching Star Wars: Rebels and then The Force Awakens, something very profound has occurred to me. The Force, like Yoda, Obi-Wan, and even Kanan have said, is an energy that surrounds all living things. It penetrates and binds the galaxy together. In this case, everyone is susceptible to the Force and its workings. That’s why there are those like Chirrut Imwe and Maz Kanata who may not be Jedi and yet know how to navigate the Force and understand its power surrounding them.
Maz Kanata tells Rey, “I am no Jedi but I know the Force. It moves through and surrounds every living thing.” Remember, Kanata is not a Jedi and yet she sure does sound like one.
And Chirrut, during a desperate moment for the rebels on the beach of Scarif, uses the Force to walk to the console without being shot by the squad of Death Troopers who are constantly trying to kill him. He completes his brief mission, due to the Force, and manages to help in providing the rebels one of their first wins against the Empire just before he dies.
This leads me back to Han Solo who is the topic of this post.
Han Solo, in A New Hope, thinks that the Force is a bunch of “simple tricks and nonsense.” In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he’s not much better. Yeah, one of his best friends is a Jedi but his concept of the Force is still very limited. He relies on his wit and blaster to get him out of situations, not an invisible power that supposedly binds everything together.
And that’s what makes his announcement in The Force Awakens to Finn and Rey that the Force is true, “all of it”, such an impactful moment. This is a different Han Solo. This is a Han Solo who has seen the galaxy, had a child who was born with great power, and this Han Solo has had to learn the hard way what it’s like to lose a loved one to the dark side.
This Han Solo is more aware of his surroundings and the Force that indeed surrounds him.
It’s why we see, at one point in The Force Awakens, Han firing his blaster at an enemy who he doesn’t even look to see. He uses his instinct, or rather the Force, to defeat his opponent rather than relying on simply his skill. And the most blatant fact that he understands the workings of the Force is in his final confrontation with his son, Kylo Ren.
Like the many Jedi throughout Star Wars–Qui-Gon Jinn, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and even Luke Skywalker–Han Solo realizes that his sacrifice is his ultimate destiny. His sacrifice will be what saves his son from the darkness which is all he could ever want. It’s this moment when Han’s belief, and trust, in the Force, is at full display. He knows the danger he is in and he knows that is very likely that Kylo is about to kill him.
He steps forward after Kylo asks him to help him and responds, “Yes, anything.”
His time has come. The Force has brought him to this moment and he’s ready to accept with open arms. That’s why, even after Kylo runs him through with his lightsaber, he still strokes his son’s face. It is the way of the Force that his story ends this way but his sacrifice was just the first step in a fascinating tale of redemption for Kylo Ren.
No, Han Solo isn’t a Jedi nor would he ever be but J.J Abrams did a great service to him by making him the greatest version of himself in truly fascinating ways that brought a perfect conclusion to his journey.
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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!