Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. I, of course, saw Solo: A Star Wars Story as soon as it came out, so I wanna talk about its reluctant hero, Han Solo.
Who is Han Solo?
Come on, what kind of question is that? Han Solo is the most famous smuggler in the galaxy. A major character in the original Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens, Han finally gets to take center stage in Solo. Solo gives us the backstory for the smuggler-with-a-heart-of-gold and how he became who he is.
Han’s backstory may not be what you expected. Personally speaking, I’m a fan of the now no-longer-canon Expanded Universe, so I’ve read the Han Solo books before. Those books give a good backstory to Han, but that’s no longer canon. Disney gave us something similar, but slightly distinct in Solo.
Han grew up on Corellia, a seedy planet with a dark side. He was raised by Lady Proxima, a cruel and vile crimelord. Han commits various shady dealings to get by, but he dreams of escaping. He wants to become a pilot and fly away with his love, Qi’ra. He finds a way by double-crossing Proxima, and they nearly escape… but Qi’ra is stoled from him at the last moment.
Left alone and in danger of being captured himself, Han enlists in the Imperial Navy. It’s one way of becoming a pilot. When that doesn’t work out, Han fights to join in with Tobias Beckett, a thief, and criminal. Han meets his lifelong companion Chewbacca and they set off to score the steal of a lifetime.
Things nearly work out for Han, but in the end, everyone (except Chewie) turns on him. That’s okay, though; he learned a valuable lesson about trust. He also reveals his good heart when he gives up his steal to help the fledgling Rebellion that will later dominate his life. Most importantly, Han acquires the Millenium Falcon and sets off on a life of adventure.
An indeterminate number of years after Solo, Han is short of cash and owes Jabba the Hutt bigtime. Still working with Chewie on the Millenium Falcon, Han agrees to take one easy-seeming job to settle his debts. Of course, we know that job is anything but simple.
Han meets the farmboy Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. Luke, along with his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi and two droids, needs to get to Alderaan on an important mission for the Rebellion. Han is not interested in the politics but takes the job for some fast (and hopefully easy) cash. Things go awry fairly fast.
Alderaan has been destroyed. The Millenium Falcon is captured by the Death Star. After Obi-Wan leaves to secure their escape, Luke insists that he and Han go save Princess Leia who is slated to be executed. It’s a fateful meeting, to be sure. After Obi-Wan dies and our heroes make it back to the Rebellion, Han insists he did his job and he’s out of there.
Of course, he comes back to save Luke and help him defeat the Death Star. No matter what he says, Han has a heart of gold and is a good man, deep down. He continues insisting that he’s not really a part of the Rebellion, but also continues helping them out and proving himself a real leader.
In the end, Han is made a general of the Rebellion and leads troops on a mission to defeat the second Death Star. He’s an integral part of defeating the Empire once and for all, no matter how reluctant he always seems.
For all that Han has a good heart, though, it’s not the only reason he sticks around with the Rebellion. To be sure, he wants to do the right thing and be a hero, no matter how cynical he may seem. But he also wants to make a good impression on a certain princess who dedicated herself to the Rebellion.
It seems to work, as Princess Leia falls in love with Han. By the end of Return of the Jedi, they seem to come to some sort of agreement. After the movie’s end, they at some point start a family. It will be their downfall — and the downfall of the entire galaxy.
Han and Leia have a son, Ben Solo. He is strong in the Force, and that worries them. It’s hard for Han, especially, since he has no connection to the Force. It’s a part of Ben’s life that he can never fully understand. Things get worse when Ben is sent to study at his uncle Luke’s Jedi academy. Something goes wrong, and Ben turns to the dark side, slaughtering his peers.
This breaks Han and Leia apart. Neither can deal with the guilt and heartbreak over what happened to their son. Han returns to what he does best: smuggling. He returns to a life of thieving and adventure with Chewie, though he’s lost the Falcon. He finds it, though, with an unexpected surprise: a girl named Rey who lights up the galaxy.
Rey brings Han back to Leia, in a way. They agree that they need to do something about Ben, who is terrorizing the galaxy as the villain Kylo Ren. Han confronts Ben, wanting to reach his son one last time. It’s the last thing he’ll ever do. Ben kills his father, who dies a reluctant hero.
Why is Han Solo Bae?
Han Solo is the definition of suave. Which is funny, considering he’s actually a fairly awkward person. But let’s be real. What nerd kid who’s interested in men didn’t have a crush on Han Solo? I know most people had their first crush on Han. He’s compelling, to say the least.
The latest iteration of Han, Alden Ehrenreich’s version in Solo, is certainly no Harrison Ford, but he’s no slouch either. Ehrenreich brings the perfect blend of cocky charm and insecure hero to make a whole new generation fall in love with the character. I don’t think I’m the only one ready to admit that Ehrenreich was unexpectedly attractive in Solo.
Don’t Get Cocky
One of Han’s most endearing qualities is his strange mix of cockiness and insecurity. Han knows what he’s good at, and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Throughout Solo, he repeats that he’s a pilot, the best there is. The thing is, Han can back this up. Han is a good pilot; he’s not necessarily being cocky.
One of my favorite phrases is “it’s not conceited if it’s true.” Even before he gets off Corellia, Han proves his skills behind the wheel of a speeder. Even Rio, the smuggler pilot, admits that Han is an exceptional flyer. So he has no hesitation being cocky about something he knows he’s good at, something that comes to define him.
Where the problem comes in is when Han tries to be cocky about everything else. Take, for example, his sabaac match with Lando Calrissian. He goes in too cocky, and it costs him. Han is a good player but doesn’t count on Lando cheating. He argues with Qi’ra that there is no way he could have lost; he doesn’t want her to think less of him.
His love life is definitely one area where Han’s insecurity comes through. With Qi’ra on Corellia, he felt equal but later feels the need to measure up to her. By the time of the original trilogy, a lot of that insecurity is gone. He’s been around the galaxy quite a few times, and his reputation is well deserved.
But every so often, the gutter kid from Corellia comes out. This is mostly in his relationship with Leia; it’s hard to feel worthy of a princess. It’s not the same as Qi’ra, because this time Han wants to be worthy. His insecurity overrules his cockiness to prove that he still cares, deep down, more than you would think.
Not So Solo
Another of Han’s endearing qualities is his need to be a part of something. Solo shows us how Han came to be alone in the galaxy. In fact, his name is actually a comment on his loneliness. In the books, Han is descended from a famous family named Solo. The new canon changes this. An imperial recruitment officer dubs him “Han Solo” when he says he has no people.
The central struggle of Han’s character is trying to be a part of something while holding himself back. Solo showed us a Han not afraid to be connected to people. Unfortunately, most of those people betrayed him. Han learned not to trust or rely on anyone. However, he never learned to stop wanting people.
Original trilogy Han does a good job showing this. He talks a big talk about being only out for himself, but Han is a big ol’ softie. He can’t even hold it together for one movie without revealing his true nature. In A New Hope, our first introduction, he returns to save Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion from the Death Star.
New trilogy Han is the same old story. He acts like he’s tough and doesn’t care about anyone or anything — with the exception of Chewie. But when he meets Rey, he’s a goner. Rey is a broken child, desperate for a home and a family, and Han recognizes that. He wants to take care of her. It’s not just Rey; Han gives everything for a son who hates him.
Despite being named Solo because of how utterly alone he is, Han spends his entire life among people. He states in Solo that he has no people, and then proceeds to find the best people he can to be with. His story is ultimately one of belonging.
What’s Not To Love?
Han Solo is one of the most popular characters in one of the most popular franchises in history, and for good reason. In a story filled with magical powers and fantastical people, Han is an everyman. He’s someone we can relate to. And not just because of his lack of Force abilities — who among us cannot relate to a struggle to find belonging?
Some people argued that we didn’t need a Han Solo movie because we already knew the character. I would disagree. Solo does a good job fleshing out the backstory of a beloved character without watering him down. Instead, it shows us how he became that character we love, and why.
I personally loved Solo, and if they decide to make more Han Solo movies, I won’t be complaining. Because Han Solo is a character who deserves the love he gets. He’s not perfect, of course. No one is, and a perfect person is boring. But Han is a genuinely good person who struggles and works hard and tries. What’s not to love about that?