Is it possible not to like Han Solo? He’s got to be one of your favorite anti-heroes and he’s certainly your favorite charming rogue. Harrison Ford‘s performance is iconic, the character’s iconic, and frankly he really spices up Star Wars for the better. In a story basically about good and evil (which almost all are, admittedly), Han brings about the grey that we crave so much.
We’re even getting a Han Solo anthology film, although unfortunately we have to wait until 2018. With stars like Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover attached, we’re sure nothing’s going to go too wrong. We’re excited and we’ll see it and it’s sure to fill in some of the unknowns about Han’s past. In the original trilogy, we pretty much get none of that. There’s too many other things going on, what with the super powerful planet-sized space station/weapon and all. But one of the greatest things about Star Wars is the extended universe, and that’s got some interesting ideas. Even the most casual fan knows about the basics of Solo, but do you know everything there is to know? Take a look at this list, and we’re sure it will add something to your Solo knowledge.
15. He Originally Wasn’t Human
That’s right, in the earliest drafts of George Lucas’ screenplay, Han Solo was a burly green alien who took in oxygen with gills because he didn’t have a nose. He was also a Jedi. In this picture, he basically looks like a monster, and that would really have shaken up the way things played out with one of the main characters.
Although humans in the Star Wars universe are very comfortable with aliens (as they congregated with them all the time), the romantic tension and eventual relationship between Han and Leia might not have been as convincing. It would at least be harder work from a narrative standpoint. It probably would also have affected his strong anti-hero status, since he looks nothing like the people watching the movies. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you see it), the character was drastically changed in later drafts.
14. His Character Was Partially Influenced By Francis Ford Coppola
Han Solo’s famously cocky, charming, and sarcastic personality came in some part from Francis Ford Coppola. He’s outrageously famous, but in case you need a refresher, this guy is one of the pre-eminent directors of New Hollywood and behind such films as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.
George Lucas worked with Coppola during the infamously troubled production of Apocalypse Now. It filmed in the year leading up to Star Wars and was plagued by things like bad weather and Martin Sheen having a heart attack. Lucas was so impressed with Coppola’s charismatic and collected personality that it helped him added some great finesse to the character.
13. He Was Almost Played By Billy D. Williams, Among Others
Obviously, Lucas considered a long list of actors for the part of Han Solo. Among them were huge stars like Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell, Christopher Walken, and Al Pacino. But something you might not know is that Billy D. Williams, who would go on to play the effortlessly cool Lando Calrissian, was seriously considered for the part as well.
You may or may not know that Harrison Ford was a carpenter and that this role made him instantly famous and his career exploded. So good for him. I personally think it’s funny to imagine Christopher Walken in the part, but the fact is, Han could have been even more charismatic if Williams had gotten the part.
12. Harrison Ford Really Wanted Him To Die
With his acting career booming and casting agents literally begging him to be in other movies, Ford really wanted to get out of Star Wars after The Empire Strikes Back and explore other opportunities. Lucas was obviously pretty frustrated by this, as he needed one of the very biggest characters in the third movie of the trilogy.
Ford compromised by suggesting that Han Solo die in the beginning of Return of the Jedi. When Lucas still wouldn’t budge, he suggested Han die at the end of the movie, in order to give it more significance and depth. But Lucas wouldn’t let it happen, and the character lived on. You know, for a while. Too late to complain about spoilers now.
11. He Makes A Cameo In Firefly
Set designers working on the cult TV show Firefly wanted to pay homage to the character, so they put small replicas of him in carbonite in the background of many scenes. Everyone on the show wanted to show their appreciation for Star Wars, knowing its influence made shows like theirs even possible.
It’s also been a fun activity for fans to try to spot all of the scenes with Han in the background. If you’re a fan of Firefly, give it a try when you next re-watch the show. Some joke that this made Han a “recurring character” on the show.
10. He Wasn’t Always Going To Be Frozen In Carbonite
So, now you know that Harrison Ford was trying to get out of Return of the Jedi. In the original script of The Empire Strikes Back, Han being frozen in carbonite wasn’t a plot point at all. But the change was an ingenious one— if Ford decided he wanted to do the third movie, they could unfreeze him, and if not, they could find a way to get rid of the character without Ford’s involvement.
As we know, Ford decided to do the third movie, but the carbonite freezing still gave us an incredible, heart-wrenching scene at the end of Empire, so we’re happy about the change. Return of the Jedi‘s beginning sequence in Jabba’s palace was also awesome, so it ended up being a win for everyone.
9. He And Greedo Both Shot First
It depends on the version. In the re-release, Lucas tampered with the scene and added a shot from Greedo that Han dodged. This made a ton of fans mad. In the original release, it’s clear that Han shot first, and you kind of get the feeling that Greedo was at least about to shoot.
So yeah, let’s stick with the original version. Seriously, why change it? Another interesting thing is that once the original script leaked to the public, it suggested that Han Solo not only shot first, but that it was unprovoked and not even in self-defense. That would say something different and interesting about the character. Lucas tried to confuse everyone, but HAN SHOT FIRST.
8. His Gun Is Specific And Powerful In The Star Wars Universe
Star Wars fans should know that Han’s blaster isn’t standard issue. It’s called the BlasTech DL-44, and it was based on the German Mauser C96 pistol. They outfitted it with all of the attachments you see above, and the result is a pistol that looks amazing and is far more powerful than the rifles of the stormtroopers.
Another fun fact: the original prop gun came from a 1968 movie called The Naked Runner, starring Frank Sinatra. For anyone who has ever played a Star Wars game and been impressed by Han’s gun’s high damage, this is why. It’s canon.
7. He’s From Corellia
It’s not talked about in the movies, but Han’s native planet is a place called Corellia. It’s also home to countless other members of the Rebel Alliance, so it’s pretty important. Star Wars wikia describes it as having “a breathable atmosphere, temperate climate, and standard gravity,” making it an ideal home for humans. It’s a little like Naboo except more industrial and less uniformly green.
Perhaps the most important detail is that it’s the place that the Millennium Falcon was designed and built. Besides being just the most awesome, recognizable ship in Star Wars, it helped Han tremendously in the battle against the Empire.
6. His Famous Line Was Improvised
This is one some people probably know. Han Solo’s super famous line, saying “I know” back to Leia after she tells him she loves him, was improvised during filming by Harrison Ford. What you might not know is that Ford was angry with Lucas’ dialogue for Han often believing it was very stilted and unnatural.
Given that, it’s not crazy to assume that Ford ad libbed other lines as well. Actors do it all the time. It’s just another demonstration of how Ford’s interpretation constituted the most to Han’s characterization.
5. He Was Almost In Episode III
Han Solo was almost featured in Revenge of the Sith. The early draft included the character as a boy living with the Wookiees, which we would have been able to see during the Battle of Kashyyk. The idea was that he was sort of being raised by Chewbacca.
Ultimately, this got cut from the movie and we think that’s a good thing. Han and Chewie clearly don’t have a parent/child relationship and it would have just been another way the prequels muddled and messed up the universe. Plus, how are you going to have a young boy idling wandering around a battlefield?
4. He Rescued Chewbacca From Slavery
Another possible story explaining the origin of the famous pair’s relationship is that Han rescued Chewie from enslavement. In this timeline, Han was working with the Empire, but grew fond of the Wookiee and freed him, defecting from his position and escaping with Chewie.
Of course, this isn’t the “official” backstory, but it does explain their relationship pretty satisfactorily. Chewie was incredibly grateful and pledged to stay by Han’s side no matter what. That’s actually really sweet.
3. He Was The First Non-Jedi To Use A Lightsaber On-Screen
At first, this might not seem like a big deal. But you should realize that not just anyone can handle a lightsaber. You have to go through intensive training and most importantly, you have to be someone who has a natural connection to the force. Because of this, Han using a lightsaber is actually very impressive.
Han uses it effectively to slice open a Tauntaun for Luke, keeping him out of the cold and saving his life. Ford does a good job in the movie of wielding it with respect to the details above, focusing intensely and respecting the power of the weapon. Next time you watch, look and see.
2. The Millennium Falcon Wasn’t Always His
When you think of Han Solo, you think of the Millennium Falcon. They go hand in hand. Perhaps the only more famous pairing is with Chewbacca. But the Millennium Falcon has become an absolutely essential cultural item, and even if you haven’t seen Star Wars, you know its name.
Han wasn’t always the ship’s pilot. The other famous owner was actually Lando Calrissian, who lost the ship to Han in a bet. This actually helps to enrich and explain the relationship between Han and Lando we see in The Empire Strikes Back. Some of that underlying conflict surely has to do with Lando being sore about losing one of the most amazing ships in the universe.
1. He Has A Wife
As the Extended Universe continues to expand more and more, character backstories are being explained left and right. Much like any superheroes, the overall characters are affected by different writers, standalone stories, and interpretations. A Star Wars comic has Han married in Episode IV, or at least has a character claiming to be his wife. Her name is Sana Solo.
In the comic, Han denies her claims that she is his wife, although since he’s starting to like Leia that could be a lie. He definitely knows Sana, and she definitely has beef with him, which is not surprising considering Han’s character. In the future, we’re sure their relationship will be explained and more information will be added to one of the most iconic characters in history.
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