There was a Debate Over Han Solo’s Fate in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ever since Lucasfilm was sold to Walt Disney and began making a whole new slate of Star Wars films, there can be no argument that thus far, Han Solo’s death is the most significant narrative development we’ve seen. Launching new heroes into the Star Wars galaxy in the form of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) was crucial, as was developing new villains in the form of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Also key was nailing the first stand-alone film, Rogue One, and tying it to the events that led to A New Hope. Yes, every decision made on a Star Wars film is a big one, but none were as massive as killing Han Solo. The most beloved character in the film (if you discount the love for Vader), Han Solo is one of the most iconic characters in film history, and therefore a signficant part of Star Wars lore and merch. His death at the hands of his own son, Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo) was both the lynchpin to the The Force Awakens entire story, giving Rey an emotional investment in the resistance and a deeper connection to the Skywalker saga, and the poetic, heartbreaking coda that Harrison Ford has wanted for Han Solo all along.
And to think, Han’s death might not have been.
Disney CEO Bog Iger was speaking at Vanity Fair‘s Establishment Summit in L.A. and ended up talking about Han Solo’s fate in The Force Awakens. Iger was speaking with VF‘s Nick Bilton, discussing the concerns he and The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams had about balancing the legacy of the characters and the original films with giving fans a whole new narrative, with new characters and new motivations. Han Solo’s fate, and whether he would survive past The Force Awakens, was a major focal point of the discussion between Iger, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and Abrams. Screenrant has the goods:
“We had a big debate about Han Solo. Should he die or not? It was a decision made by Kennedy and Abrams, but I got involved.”
It’s a good thing Iger ultimately left the decision to the creatives, as Solo’s death, at the hands of his son Kylo Ren, gave The Force Awakens an emotional resonance that stretched all the way back to the first time we met Han, as a rakish young smuggler in the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope. Kylo Ren represented Han’s attempt at a semblance of normalcy, a family life with Leia, that ultimately led to Ren’s training under Luke, his bloody rebellion, and his descent into the Dark Side. That fateful moment between Han and Ren on the bridge was both a homage to Obi-Wan’s death and a decades-in-the-making bit of final proof that Han, at his very core, was truly one of the good guys. His death was tragic, but it was in the attempt to bring Ben Solo back to the light.
This is quite a sacrifice for a guy who spent a good portion of the original trilogy mocking The Force.
We’ll see what other revelations are in store when Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.