Four-time Fast & Furious director Justin Lin took the wheel a fifth time to get justice for Han (Sung Kang), admitting he was "confused" to learn Han's killer, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), was welcomed into the familia headed by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Lin exited the franchise with Fast & Furious 6, which ended with the revelation Shaw was responsible for the seemingly fatal car crash that appeared to kill Han in Lin's own The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift, set before the events of Lin's Fast & Furious, Fast Five and F&F6. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) reintroduces Han, part of Lin's need to "correct something" in the franchise that expanded with spinoff Hobbs & Shaw:
"Han means so much to me because he was a character before Fast & Furious," Lin told Total Film magazine. Kang's Han first appeared in Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow, retroactively serving as Han's origin story. At a 15th anniversary Sundance screening of the crime-drama, Lin became aware of the "Justice for Han" campaign ultimately referenced in the first F9 trailer that promises "justice is coming."
"Somebody asked me about Han and [Deckard] Shaw," Lin said. "I was like: 'Wait, what? Shaw is at the barbecue in 8?' [laughs] Really, I was so confused. One of the big reasons to come back was I felt like we needed to correct something."
After menacing the Toretto crew in Furious 7 when carrying out a vendetta on behalf of younger brother Owen (Luke Evans), who was thwarted and hospitalized by Toretto's gang of do-gooder racers in F&F6, the elder Shaw brother proved an unlikely ally for Toretto when he was manipulated into serving cyberterrorist Cipher (Charlize Theron) in The Fate of the Furious. Statham's Shaw earned a place at the family barbecue when he teamed with Owen to rescue little Brian — Dom's young son born to Elena (Elsa Pataky) and named after brother-in-law Brian (Paul Walker) — who was safely returned to his father.
Shaw's villainy was further retconned in Hobbs & Shaw, where he was forced to partner with rival Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to take down super soldier Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) and save the world from an extremely lethal virus.
How Han returns is a well-kept spoiler, but Letty is said to be instrumental in bringing Han back into the crew.
"Let's just say we're not hiding the fact that a lot of the stuff is crazy!" Rodriguez said. "In a lot of ways these movies are like the Olympic games. There are a lot of cultures that feel represented by individual characters from the franchise. And Han does that for an entire community."
Fast & Furious 9 opens May 22.