By: Benjamin Hart
WARNING: Massive spoilers for The Force Awakens below! Do not read until you've seen the film.
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens has been garnering a great deal of much deserved praise these past few weeks. Arguably one of the film's strongest points is its cast. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and others have captured the hearts and imaginations of fans everywhere with their outstanding performances. And while all of that praise is warranted, lately I couldn't help but feel that enough wasn't being said about a certain returning character and actor. One that pretty much stole every scene he was in and grounded the film overall. Of course I'm talking about the legendary Harrison Ford and his alter ego Han Solo.
Way back at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim Harrison's delivery of "Chewie, we're home" in the second teaser trailer became an instantly classic and quotable line. The idea of our favorite scruffy looking nerf herder returning in the flesh made fans that much more excited, and in the end his role in the film was one of the biggest highlights. Han was truly the heart of The Force Awakens in many ways. Ford's performance was genuine and sincere and he did a brilliant job of portraying a Han that was very different, but also very much the same which made for a smooth transition into this new era. It was such a joy to see the Wisdom, charm and humor of the character once again brought to life on the big screen for the first time in thirty two years.
But what was especially striking and bittersweet about Harrison's return as Han was that it would be his final outing as the beloved smuggler. Regardless of the rumors, I think most of us saw his demise coming. Of course, the prospect of Solo dying is an idea that has been around since Return Of The Jedi when Harrison himself suggested the character should be killed off. He felt at the time that, unlike his co-stars, Han didn't have as much of an important role in the saga and sacrificing himself for the greater good would a poignant end for him. Obviously George Lucas decided against it at the time, but writers Lawrence Kasdan and J.J. Abrams decided to revisit the concept in The Force Awakens.
Naturally many fans have expressed sadness and anger about Han's death in The Force Awakens, and some have even gone as far as suggesting that his death was meaningless. I beg to differ.
I think Han's last moments were his strongest. When we first met this character he was incredibly selfish, only caring about the wellbeing of himself and possibly Chewie. Over the course of the Original Trilogy Han morphed from a self centered pirate into a strong leader and loyal friend. After that we are left to assume he went on to be a caring husband and father. Those traits showed through clearly in this film. His last act was one of absolute compassion and love for his son, paralleling the final moments of Anakin Skywalker saving his son Luke in the previous film. Knowing full well what Ben/Kylo was capable of, he confronted him in hopes of bringing him back to the light. Yes, he ultimately failed to bring his son home, but succeeded for a brief moment to bring out the good in him(Yes, I believe Kylo’s plea for help was sincere) and thus proved that Leia was right, Ben is not completely lost.
Now, after all is said and done, it appears Harrison Ford has played Han for the last time in a Star Wars film, and in my opinion, it was his best Star Wars film to date. Now we can look forward to going back in time and seeing Han at the earliest point in his life we've ever seen him in the upcoming Han Solo Anthology film coming in 2018. We are all anxiously looking forward to seeing a brand new actor take on the role and breath even more new life into the character. But in the meantime we must reflect on the impact this character and the actor that portrayed him up until now has made.
Rest in peace, Han. And thank you, Harrison. You both will be continued to be cherished for generations to come.
Also, I would be remiss if not to mention Peter Mayhew and Joonas Suotamo for their combined performance as Chewbacca in The Force Awakens. Because what's a scoundrel without his Wookiee? He felt like the same old Chewie and had some fantastic moments in the film, especially beside Han.
This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.
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