[WARNING: The following article contains MASSIVE spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens so please don’t read the article until you’ve seen the film]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens featured appearances by many classic Star Wars characters, but none played as large of a role as Han Solo, who begrudgingly returned to galaxy saving after years of running from his problems. While The Force Awakens was the beginning of Rey and Finn’s story, the movie also tragically marked the end of Solo’s long and tumultuous journey. In many ways, Han Solo was the quiet glue of The Force Awakens and the link that united the new generation of characters to the original core cast.
Here’s five of our favorite Han Solo scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
After Rey and Finn steal the Millenium Falcon and escape from Jabbu, they’re quickly captured by a massive freighter. As Rey and Finn hide from what they presume are First Order Stormtroopers, a weary but delighted Han enters the ship and proudly declares to Chewbacca that they’re finally home. Disney used this scene heavily in its first trailers for The Force Awakens, which crystallized the nostalgic excitement and anticipation for the film. The scene was also important in that it was the first time we actually saw one of the original Star Wars cast members in The Force Awakens, tying together the old and new Star Wars universes for the first time.
Han Plays with the Bowcaster
While Chewie and Han have been partners for decades, Han apparently wields the Wookie’s massive bowcaster for the first time in The Force Awakens. Han uses the blaster twice in the movie: first after Chewie is injured during a firefight with angry criminals on Han’s freighter and then during the firefight against First Order Stormtroopers on Takodana. While Han’s always preferred his blaster pistol, he seems almost giddy as the bowcaster sends Stormtroopers flying through the air with explosive force. It looks like you can teach an old smuggler new tricks.
Han Offers Rey a Job
Han acts as an unlikely fount of wisdom for both Finn and Rey, but he quickly builds a rapport with the scavenger from Jabbu. Although Rey dismissed the Millenium Falcon as garbage early in The Force Awakens, she comes around on the old Corellian freighter and seems to appreciate the ship’s….delicate disposition almost as much as Han and Chewie. After watching Rey natural ability on the ship, Han even offers Rey a job on the Falcon, since “Chewie seems to like her”. Kylo Ren later remarks that Rey seems to view Han as the father she never had, a relationship that sadly never gets followed up on later in the film.
Han Reunites with Leia
After Resistance forces drive the First Order from Takodana, Han finally faces the bittersweet romance he left behind in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens when General Leia Organa lands on the planet. While there’s clearly some unresolved anguish between the two (stemming from their son’s seduction to the Dark Side), Han and Leia quickly return to their classic banter and their old habits. Han may have tried running from his past, but Leia’s simple request to “bring their son home” leads the old smuggler to one last selfless heroic action later in the film. You didn’t have to be a Star Wars fanatic to appreciate Han and Leia’s final embrace, which expressed so much unspoken emotion in a single simple scene.
Han's Last Stand
We discovered early on that Kylo Ren was the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, seduced to the Dark Side by Snoke sometime in the past. Although Luke Skywalker tried to train Kylo (who’s real name is Ben) on the ways of the Force, Kylo’s betrayal and seduction sent Luke into exile and split Han and Leia up for years. After seeing their son on Starkiller Base, Han abandons his mission to destroy the base to try to bring his son back to the Light one final time. The second Han revealed himself to Kylo, the audience knew that he wasn’t going to make it home but that didn’t stop them from hoping that Kylo would heed his father’s pleas and abandon his crusade of hatred of destruction. Although Kylo seemed to be momentarily swayed by his father, he ultimately cuts Han Solo down, refusing to be seduced by Han’s offer of hope and family. Han’s death at the hands of his son was a bittersweet but fitting end for the old smuggler. He dies trying to do the right thing one last time.