[Warning: This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.]
Harrison Ford is keeping very busy these days. When he’s not chasing down rogue replicants in the upcoming Blade Runner 2 or bossing around Expendables, Ford is reviving (sort of) other old favorite characters. Recently, it was revealed that the 73-year-old actor will play Indiana Jones for a fifth time. It may or may not be his last time donning his dusty fedora, but unfortunately, there’s one classic costume Ford won’t be wearing again, at least on film – Han Solo’s leather vest and holster.
Ford’s breakout role, Han Solo met his final fate at the hands of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) during the gut-wrenching climax of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in an attempt to save his wayward son. But dying in Episode 7 wasn’t the first time Ford had considered committing Solo-icide. His desire to kill off Han since Return of the Jedi is a matter of fandom public record. The why, however, hasn’t really been explored much until recently.
In a fan Q&A session on EW’s Tumblr, Ford explored the rationale behind his desire to end the beloved smuggler’s run. As opposed to his previous statements to the contrary, he says it wasn’t because he was sick of Han Solo. More so, it was due to his desire to see the rebel hero finally make an ultimate sacrifice. Ford’s response to a question about the climactic Episode 7 scene:
“I think it's a fitting use of the character. I've been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years, not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight.”
Recently, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams discussed his difficult decision to kill Han Solo. While the director understood the gravity of his decision, Ford has apparently always felt the character needed a “clear utility” within the Star Wars universe. Ford and Abrams both viewed Han Solo’s death as an effective launch for the saga’s new characters, especially Kylo Ren, and that it would lend an emotional weight to the third trilogy’s opening chapter. However, when another fan interviewer asked about Ford doing voice work, he responded that he’d “love it” and was “waiting for a good fit.”
Does that mean there’s half a chance we could see an animated version of Han Solo with Ford's vocal chords behind it? Probably not. But the ironic aspect of Han Solo’s death in The Force Awakens is that it’s only the beginning for the character. The House of Ideas hasn’t tipped their hand on casting for the young Han Solo Anthology yet, but Marvel already has a Han Solo comic book story arc on the way – with more doubtless around the corner. From Han Solo’s death comes new life – that of Han Solo. But Hollywood’s unusual character reincarnation doesn’t always fill the shoes to size.
George Lucas lucked out to find an impressive Obi-Wan Kenobi likeness in Ewan MacGregor, but Alec Gunness’ role was relatively minor in the grand scheme of the Original Star Wars Trilogy. Harrison Ford is far more connected to the role and could never be truly replaced. But if Disney/Lucasfilm can find the right actor – one who looks similarly to Ford and can replicate his swagger – they might be able to channel the not-so-scruffy-looking nerf herder like they did in the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. It will be an uphill battle, though.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will be on Blu-ray April 5, 2016; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.