There’s no getting around it, folks: Han Solo is the original space cowboy.
What makes Han Solo’s character so relatable within the Star Wars universe is that he’s driven by his own personal desires and always looks out for himself first. However, what makes him so lovable is that when it comes down to it, Han puts those desires aside and does what’s right. He’s the perfect example of a reluctant hero.
Who knew that a sarcastic smuggler from an unknown space opera would end up becoming one of the most beloved movie characters of all time? Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Han would set a precedent for this rogue-style character type that would be used as a template for future stars such as Chris Pine and Chris Pratt. Han’s character was undoubtedly the catalyst that took Ford to superstar status and beyond in Hollywood.
Despite having plenty of published books expanding on his character throughout Legends, a new canon history of Han has yet to be revealed. That is going to change soon enough with the upcoming (and untitled) Han Solo origin film, which is set to debut in the spring of 2018. This type of well-told story is exactly what Han needs to complete his character.
Alden Ehrenreich is set to portray the young Han, and fans everywhere hope that he can live up to the performance set by his predecessor. In the meantime, check out
15. Han was originally envisioned as a Jedi
Try and picture Han Solo as a green-skinned alien Jedi. It’s not an easy thing to wrap your head around, but believe it or not, the original concept art for Star Wars had a vastly different Han Solo than the one fans know and love.
George Lucas made many changes to his characters before the production of A New Hope. At first, Lucas made lightsabers as common as the cheesy 1970s alien costumes. He later decided to make Jedi and their laser swords a rarity in his sci-fi universe, which meant Han was going to be using a blaster instead.
Years later, Dark Horse Comics adapted Lucas’ concept art for Star Wars into a new comic series titled The Star Wars. Not only did they use the original sketches for a green-skinned alien Han, but they also recreated the original vision for Luke, as a much older Jedi general.
14. The almost Hans
Many major stars auditioned to portray the legendary smuggler, Han Solo. In the end, George Lucas felt that only Harrison Ford was able to truly embody his vision for Han. Among the top contenders were big names such as Al Pacino, who was already a hot commodity following his work in the Godfather films. Kurt Russell also auditioned, and came very close to winning the job because of his similar “bad boy” type charisma. At the time, that personality was only just coming into form, as Russell was primarily known as one of Disney’s top stars.
Two other big names that turned out for auditions were Sylvester Stallone, who was filming Rocky at the time, as well as Robert Englund, who portrayed Freddy Kruger in Nightmare on Elm Street. Robert ended up making a big impact on the Star Wars franchise anyway, after he encouraged his friend Mark Hamill to audition for the part of Luke Skywalker.
13. From carpenter to space cowboy
The process of casting an actor to play Han Solo was one that George Lucas took very seriously. For Lucas, it came down to who he felt like could properly embody his vision for Han, which he eventually decided was Harrison Ford.
The then largely-unknown actor was cast in George Lucas’ first film American Graffiti (now a cult classic), and despite it being a small part, it made a lasting impression on Lucas.
But what helped George Lucas make the final decision on Ford as Han was an interaction they had at his studio one random day in 1974. The actor, who was working as a carpenter at the time, was in the offices that day installing a door for director Francis Ford Coppolla as a favor for his art director when Lucas walked by, and the two had a chat.
12. The lost tale of Han Solo Sr.
The original ending for The Empire Strikes Back had a vastly different outcome for Han Solo. In George Lucas’ original outline, he had Han splitting off from the main characters at the end of the movie to go search for his stepfather, in the hopes of recruiting him to join the Rebellion.
Perhaps the original idea was to make Han’s stepfather hold some considerable amount of power or influence. It must have meant that this unknown character would have been a game-changer for the Rebellion for Han to leave his friends to go look for him. Maybe he was a smuggler king of sorts, and would help his son save the Rebellion during the third movie.
11. He’s an orphan
A clichéd stereotype that has been adapted pretty often within the Star Wars universe is heroes who grew up as orphans…or at least believing they are.
Despite George Lucas’ original Empire Strikes Back plans, Han Solo actually was an orphan. Having been born on the planet Corellia ten years before the fall of the Republic, and without the steadying hand of parental guidance, our hero turned to a life of thieving and (eventually) smuggling. As of yet, there is no canonical answer to who Han’s parents were – although in Legends, it is said that his mother’s name was Jaina and his father’s name was Jonash Solo. It’s widely suspected that the upcoming Han Solo origin movie will touch on this subject.
Despite his cutthroat upbringing, it is evident throughout the original trilogy that Han does have a deep rooted sense of morality that keeps him from abandoning his friends when they need him most. Where he actually acquires this moral code remains to be seen.
10. Han’s personality was written to mirror a famous director
Han’s personality is what sets him apart from everyone else in the original trilogy, but what many fans may not know is that his personality was written to mirror a famous director.
When it came to writing Han’s character, George Lucas had certain qualities in mind. He wanted a reluctant hero type. A selfish, sarcastic kind of character that would eventually come through for his friends and help save the day.
Lucas eventually acquired a specific vision in mind after he worked on the script development for Apocalypse Now. Early in his career, George became friends with Francis Ford Coppola, who directed Apocalypse Now and the huge hit franchise The Godfather. He was extremely impressed with the smooth-talking ways and overall swagger of Coppola, and he wanted to mirror those traits in Han.
It must’ve been easy for Harrison Ford to understand exactly what Lucas meant about Coppola’s personality, since he’d worked with the legendary director on Apocalypse Now and the 1974 thriller, The Conversation.
9. Han and Indiana Jones meet face to face…kind of
Remember the time Indiana Jones discovered Han Solo’s remains on Earth? No?
In the non-canon Dark Horse Comics series Into The Unknown, Han and Chewbacca accidentally make their way to Earth, where they crash land in the Pacific Northwest. There, they are found by Native Americans, and things don’t go so well for the iconic duo. While Chewbacca manages to escape the indigenous gang, unfortunately, Han is killed.
Flash forward a 100 years or so, and in comes Indiana Jones, who discovers Han’s remains. In fact, the legendary explorer only finds his lookalike’s bones because he’s on the hunt for the legendary Sasquatch (who turns out to be Chewbacca!).
8. He might have been married before Leia
If Han Solo was famous for anything, it was for being a smooth-talking ladies man. Han’s charm was not only helpful with the many women he encountered across the galaxy, but also in helping getting him out of tight situations. This becomes even more apparent in the Star Wars #6 comic book, set after the events of A New Hope, in which a woman comes across Han and Leia claiming to be Sana Solo, Han’s wife.
While Han denies this accusation from his alleged wife, it doesn’t fail to piss off the woman that he’s courting, Princess Leia Organa. The three work together and by the end of the comic, Han continues to avoid owning up to the marriage.
7. He didn’t always have the Millennium Falcon
Believe it or not, Han Solo wasn’t the original owner of the Millennium Falcon. The first person that acquired the ship was another Star Wars favorite, Lando Calrissian. The sly smuggling friend of Han is said to have won the ship in a game of Satacc, the Star Wars equivalent of poker. Ironically, of course, he would end up losing the Falcon in the same fashion to Han Solo, an incident Han referenced in The Empire Strikes Back. The ownership of the Millennium Falcon would continue to change over the next three decades, as was shown in The Force Awakens.
With the upcoming Han Solo origin story set to be released in 2018, fans expect to see this initial exchange of the Falcon make the big screen. It will definitely be a cool sight to see Han Solo take the reigns of the kessel run record-breaking ship for the very first time!
6. He was a lieutenant at the Imperial Academy
To many fans’ surprise, Han Solo was an officer in the Imperial Navy long before he became an officer for the Rebellion. He initially joined up with the Empire as a pilot recruit, where he honed his flying skills, which in turn ended up allowing him to rise in the ranks to become a lieutenant. Han was on track to do very well for himself in the Empire, until he gave it all up to do save the life of his future partner-in-crime, Chewbacca (more on that in a moment). While it’s hard to imagine Han working under Darth Vader and the Empire, it has indeed been confirmed within the new canon.
It’s interesting to think of what what sort of future may have been in store for Han if he hadn’t given up his career in the Imperial Navy. With Han’s naturally rebellious nature a big factor, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think he would’ve left the Empire sooner or later – Wookie BFF or no Wookie BFF.
5. Han saved Chewbacca from enslavement
Not long after Chewbacca helped Master Yoda in Revenge of The Sith, he and many other Wookies were enslaved by the Empire. Luckily for him, Han Solo was a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy at the same time Chewbacca was captured. Han then saw the true nature of the Empire, and decided to help the Wookies escape. In the process, Chewbacca swore a life-debt to to his rescuer for helping him secure his freedom.
This story originated from Star Wars Legends stories, and was later adapted to the new canon when Han reflects on Chewie and his friendship in Aftermath: Life Debt. Without spoiling too much, Han has to explain to his comrades why he can’t leave Chewbacca behind. “I saved him, at least that’s what he says, the big fuzzy fool, but really, he saved me…I was on a bad path, and Chewie, he put me straight.”
4. The real reason behind his carbonite coffin
There was a much bigger behind-the-scenes reason for freezing Han Solo in carbonite at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. After the success of A New Hope, both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher signed contracts to return for two more films, while Harrison Ford only agreed to return for one, unsure if he wanted to commit himself to more Star Wars movies.
In a clever way to stall the death of one of the main characters of the saga, George Lucas decided to have Han be frozen in a carbonite coffin at the end of The Empire Strikes Back instead of killing him outright, while they worked out negotiations for the Return of The Jedi.
Luckily for fans, Harrison came around and decided to reprise his role as Han in the last film of the original trilogy. If he hadn’t, would Lucas have killed off his character in the carbonite coffin? Probably.
3. Han and Leia were married on Endor
It’s common knowledge that General Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa were married. Not even a day after the fall of the Empire and the Battle of Endor, the pair didn’t waste any time, and were married on the forest moon in a private ceremony. After dealing with his insecurites about the dynamic of Luke and Leia’s bond in Return of The Jedi, Han proposed to her. It has been rumored that the original ending to the movie ended with their wedding instead of a victory celebration.
In Aftermath: Life Debt, Leia talks about the wedding, saying, “We had a small ceremony, just those we trust. We didn’t keep it a secret but we didn’t make it public either.” While their marriage didn’t have the happy ending they were hoping for, the two did love each other despite “driving each other crazy.”
2. His son’s first lesson
In Aftermath: Empire’s End, we see a glimpse of Han Solo caring for his newborn son, Ben Solo. As young Ben is laying in his crib, Han acknowledges that he’s not going to be the best father, but that he’ll do his best to always keep the family pointed in the right direction.
“There’s your first lesson,” Han tells Ben. “Sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t mean following a straight line.” If theories of Kylo Ren’s secret plot to destroy Snoke are true, this lesson may be a big piece of foreshadowing in regards to how he carries out his plans.
1. Han’s suicide theory
Fans across the world were devastated by the death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens.
For Kylo Ren to kill his own father so brutally is something that neither Luke Skywalker nor Darth Vader were ever capable of doing. However, there is a popular fan theory that changes everything about Han’s death.
The theory goes that the reason Kylo Ren struggles with ‘calls to the light’ throughout the film is because he is actually putting on a facade to eventually betray and kill Supreme Leader Snoke. To gain Snoke’s absolute trust, however, he has to kill his father, something Han understands. To keep his son from having to commit such a terrible act, he actually turns the lightsaber on himself as he seemingly takes it from his son, preventing him from falling to the dark side completely.
This adds a whole new layer of meaning to their exchange in The Force Awakens when Kylo says, “I know what I have to do but I don’t think I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?” Time will tell whether this theory will ultimately hold any weight, of course.
Do you know of any other obscure factoids surrounding Han Solo? Let us know in the comments.
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