Arguably, the Millennium Falcon is as much a character in the Star Wars saga as Luke or Leia or Darth Vader. Han’s trusty ship might be a piece of junk, but it’s been there for all the most important Star Wars moments. It has even outlived Han and continued to get in on the adventures after his death. Last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story was primarily an origin story for Han, but it also gave us a sort of origin story for the Millennium Falcon – or, at the very least, the origin story of Han’s tenure with the Falcon. So, Star Wars fans, here are The Millennium Falcon’s 10 Finest Moments.
10 Disguising the Rebels from the Empire as garbage
Darth Vader relentlessly pursues Han, Leia, Chewie, and C-3PO in the Millennium Falcon throughout The Empire Strikes Back. His plan is to capture them and hold them to ransom, trading them for Luke, who he plans to turn to the Dark Side as his co-ruler of the Empire. What Vader doesn’t count on is Han’s impressive skills as a pilot. He manages to avoid detection by the Empire by disguising the Falcon among their garbage as they jettison trash from an Imperial Star Destroyer into the depths of space. Outsmarting Darth Vader and the Empire is a pretty impressive move.
9 Landing on Starkiller Base at lightspeed
Although the First Order is accused of being a rip-off of the Empire and Starkiller Base is accused of being a rip-off of the Death Star, both led to a pretty awesome Millennium Falcon moment in The Force Awakens. In order to slip past the First Order’s shields and land on Starkiller Base, Han decided to gun the Falcon past the shields at lightspeed. This left the ship hurtling through a forest at a much quicker rate than it would usually be going for a landing, and it very almost flew off a cliff and ended the movie right there. Thankfully, it all worked out.
8 Making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs
There was a lot wrong with Solo: A Star Wars Story – namely, fundamental things like casting someone besides Harrison Ford to play Han Solo – but it was a fun addition to the Star Wars canon. As an intergalactic adventure, it made for a rollicking trip to the movies.
The climactic action sequence revolves around whether or not Han will be able to make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, and as we’ve known for more than 40 years now, he does. So, that takes away from the stakes of the sequence, but it’s still an awe-inspiring cinematic spectacle.
7 A cameo appearance in Revenge of the Sith
George Lucas originally planned to feature a teenage Han Solo in Revenge of the Sith. He would be living on Kashyyyk with the Wookiees, having been orphaned at a young age and then raised by Chewbacca. It was wise to cut this, since it would alter Han and Chewie’s relationship, changing their sidekick dynamic to a father-son one. However, Lucas did throw in a little Easter egg with the Millennium Falcon appearing at a spaceport. It showed us that the Falcon had a life long before it was owned by Han (and before it was owned by Lando, even), but it wouldn’t be worthy of center stage until Han won it in a game of Sabacc and took it on some incredible intergalactic adventures.
6 Escaping from a cave that turned out to be a giant space worm
In A New Hope, the Rebels approached a moon that turned out to be “no moon,” and in The Empire Strikes Back, they hid out in a cave that turned out to be “no cave.” In fact, Han had just landed the Millennium Falcon in the mouth of a giant space worm. They barely managed to escape, scraping the Falcon out of the worm’s teeth as they closed down at the very last second. The Falcon was given a lot of opportunities to shine in The Empire Strikes Back, because the whole second act saw Han and the Rebels fleeing the Empire in it.
5 Rescuing Luke Skywalker on Cloud City
At the end of The Empire Strikes Back, after being bested in a lightsaber battle by Darth Vader and backed onto a ledge, Luke Skywalker has two options. He can either join his father in ruling the Galactic Empire with an iron fist or he can drop into the Cloud City air shaft system to certain doom. Since he can’t bear the thought of turning to the Dark Side, he takes the second option and ends up tumbling through an air shaft and getting spit out the bottom of the floating city. Leia senses that Luke is in danger and tells Lando to turn the Falcon around so they can save him.
4 Flying through the wreckage of an Imperial Star Destroyer
One of the nice design touches in The Force Awakens is the debris from the Battle of Endor dotted around everywhere. In the background of desert landscapes on Jakku, crashed Imperial Star Destroyers covered in grime and dust can be seen. And in one breathtaking action sequence, Rey and Finn fly the Millennium Falcon through the wreckage of one. The First Order has tracked them down and they’re being chased by TIE fighters as the camera swoops through the downed ship to track them. The spectacle of the sequence offsets any inconsistencies – why was the Falcon on Jakku in the first place? – as we just go along for the ride.
3 Turning up at the last second to help the Rebels blow up the Death Star
Han Solo has an interesting character arc confined entirely to A New Hope. His arc extends throughout the rest of the original trilogy and a little into the sequel trilogy. But if George Lucas had made A New Hope and stopped there, we’d be happy with where Han’s character development ended up.
All throughout the movie, he insisted he didn’t care about political ideologies or the Force or, really, anyone besides himself (and maybe Chewbacca). But then he showed up in the Millennium Falcon during the Death Star trench run and get the TIE fighters off Luke’s trail, which allows him to destroy the Empire’s superweapon. “Wahoo!”
2 Successfully navigating an asteroid field against 3,720-to-1 odds
When Han is being pursued by Darth Vader’s fleet in The Empire Strikes Back, he decides to evade them by turning the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field. A panicked C-3PO tells Han, “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to one,” and then Han, cool as a cat, replies, “Never tell me the odds!” The great thing about this is that it not only builds on Han as a character and the Falcon as a ship with more to it than meets the eye; it’s also a good dramatic tool. Han doesn’t want to be told the odds, but we, as an audience, know the odds and how slim they are, so we’re instantly hooked.
1 “What a piece of junk!”
The brilliant thing about the world-building in Star Wars is that the world feels lived-in. Even though droids and blasters and space cruisers look impressive to us, they’re just a part of the world in the Star Wars movies. Droids are a commodity, like refrigerators or iPhones, and ships are like cars, with only a select few that are truly impressive. When Luke first gazes upon the Millennium Falcon and everyone’s favorite fictional spaceship (except for maybe the U.S.S. Enterprise) makes its debut, he’s not in awe like us – he says, “What a piece of junk!” Han says, “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.” The Falcon would spend the rest of the saga proving that.