Analysis of The Force Awakens — Han Solo: From Cynical Smuggler to Believing Mentor

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The portrayal of Han in The Force Awakens was one of the few things I was worried about leading up to the premiere. There were many fans I encountered who believed Han was the type of character who would never settle down and have a family, but that, to me, ignores his entire character arc throughout the original trilogy. Happily, the filmmakers were able to maintain Han’s arc from selfish smuggler to selfless hero while still maintaining the roguish qualities that so many fans desired to see again.

According to the Visual Dictionary, Han and Leia did in fact marry and start a family, with Han satisfying his wild side by becoming a successful racing pilot. However, this new life didn’t last. His son, Ben Solo, turned to the dark side and became Kylo Ren, betraying Luke and killing his fellow Jedi apprentices, something confirmed by the Visual Dictionary. After this disaster, Han fell back into his old smuggler lifestyle, where we find him at the beginning of the film.

One of the most interesting things about Han in The Force Awakens is his unflinching belief in the Force. He is no longer an unbeliever, but has witnessed the power of the Force first hand. He has ironically taken the position of mentor that once belonged to Obi-Wan.

Though he acts as a guide and mentor, to the point of “thinking about” offering Rey a position aboard the Falcon, Han is reluctant to get involved with the Resistance and tries to dump Rey and Finn off on his old mentor, Maz Kanata. Like Finn and Rey, it is only when his new friends are threatened, by his own son, that he fully joins in the fight.

Han’s first scene with Leia was a beautiful moment. I immediately understood that while they have been separated by grief, they still very much love each other. And it was through their performances that Kylo Ren was most firmly cemented in my mind as their son.

I felt that Han’s death scene was emotionally and visually perfect. The final shot of Han falling into the abyss creates a beautiful illusion that he is rising into the clouds. Some fans wanted Han to go out guns blazing, however, for me at least, making it a tragically touching and emotional scene of a father trying to save his son was a better end to his journey. And Leia’s belief that Han could save their son made his death all the more painful and heartbreaking. Unlike many fans, I actually want to see Kylo have some form of redemption, if only for Han’s sake (the final hand on Ben’s face a sign of sorrow and forgiveness to a fallen child). The novelization hints that this may be possible as Kylo did not have the emotional severing that he expected.

Han’s death will no doubt play a pivotal role going forward. It has impacted the lives of each major character and will be a driving force for both Rey and Kylo in their journeys.

Until next time: May the Force be with you. Always.

Chris “Darth Hound” Miller

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