Ok, this bit of rambling isn’t about the wonderful novel written by the late Brian Daley, but I couldn’t help hearkening back to that title which has been etched into my memory for so many years. And I’ll submit, it’s not exactly Solo’s revenge per se that we’ll be witnessing
come December 18th…or is it? It just might be, from a certain point of view.
It’s an exciting time, with so much to ponder, so much to speculate on. Yesterday I revisited the 2nd teaser trailer for The Force Awakens (after a tortuous three weeks of abstaining from viewing it), and once again I got chills at the closing shot. I mean, c’mon, Han and Chewie entering the falcon? Really? Awesome!
I then thought of Harrison Ford, you know, the real guy, the one who lands powerless planes on golf courses, the larger than life movie star who literally “breaks a leg” while filming action scenes. Is he actually Indiana Jones? Oh, woops, sorry, wrong franchise…. Anyway, while the multitudes cringed at his initial injury, wished him a speedy recovery and prayed to whatever god(s) they hold dear that it wouldn’t stall filming or cut down his role, you have to admit, it was also kinda…well…badass, right? Mind you, I certainly don’t wish an ounce of harm upon him, and after the plane incident, I’m relieved he’s all right; but Harrison Ford, at 72 years old, is one heckuva spry guy. On a broad scale, his injury while filming barely slowed him or the production down. He reportedly came back to the set with an even greater enthusiasm. He just keeps going, continues to challenge himself and live an exciting life. Some of his exploits have mirrored the adventures of the characters for which he’s so beloved. Harrison Ford has shown us that one does not need to slip quietly into their golden years. Though he had some choice words about George Lucas’s dialogue in the original trilogy, he certainly seems to have taken the Creator’s favorite directorial instruction to heart in his life beyond the silver screen. Faster, more intense…
So now I’m pondering – when concerning Star Wars, just what makes this guy tick?
Over the years, Ford has famously downplayed his role as Solo, much to the chagrin of many fans. And yet, by all accounts, he eagerly dove right in and embraced donning Han Solo’s garb for episode 7. J.J. Abrams claimed Ford had a fire in his eyes, an energy and passion to really nail an older Han Solo. Has Harrison Ford undergone a change of heart? Was his distaste for Star Wars not as severe as he projected or was generally perceived? Time goes on. People change. Perhaps with the accumulation of decades, something inside him recognized the preciousness and value of the role that made him a star. Perhaps deep down he actually has a bit of fondness for the scruffy looking nerf herder that captured the hearts of countless millions. Perhaps he’s simply pleased for the paycheck. Oh, I’m just speculating, laying it all out on the table just as *ahem* Disney must have — All right, all right, just having a little bit of fun. Seriously, though, I truly am a tremendous fan of the guy, and I wouldn’t be so bold to presume anything about the machinations of Mr. Ford’s mind. I’m pleased as punch to have him in the lineup.
This leaves us with myriad intriguing questions, one of which is – what kind of Han Solo will we get? I’m hoping for a “classic” interpretation of Solo. I understand, as a matter of course, the original trilogy progressed the characters into a more mature place as the stakes continued to escalate. By Return of the Jedi, some of the spunk and energy of younger Han was dimmed. It served the story, to be sure, but he mellowed maybe just a little too much for this fan’s taste. When I think of Han Solo, I think of him bantering back and forth with Leia, or scolding goldenrod, or running around, yelling some barely comprehensible instructions to Chewie in the middle of a desperate battle. Bearing in mind that we’re going to have a much older Solo for episode 7, and his character’s demeanor needs to suit his place in the story, I’d still like to see a return to the spark and wit that made him so endearing in the first place.
And then there’s the elephant in the room, the question that has us all sweating – Will he even survive The Force Awakens? Another fairly well known tidbit was that Ford, along with screenwriting legend Lawrence Kasdan, agreed that one of the “big three” should have died in Return of the Jedi and, more specifically, that character should have been Han Solo. They thought his character’s function in the story was all but complete by the time Jedi rolled around.
Consider this, though: as we race on towards episode 7, with a good 30 years of backstory in tow, Han Solo’s importance to the saga’s new installments could be more crucial than ever. If, as many are speculating, he and Leia had children, then he will have an even greater influence over the Skywalker line (you know, that little dysfunctional family that’s driven the entire story and changed the course of galactic history). Any offspring of Solo, for good or for ill, will no doubt have a huge impact on the coming tales, especially since we can surmise that they’ll be force sensitive, and the force is…um…”awakening”. Hence, the actions of Solo’s children may very well compel dear ole’ dad to intervene if things get dicey. (It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Solo has jumped in to save a Skywalker.) “That’s two you owe me, junior.” Han Solo became something of a big brother to Luke, showing us that there was more to him than money – there was heart. Imagine to what ends he would go to protect or aid his children…and the implications thereof.
Because of his children, Han may very well be forced back into the role of the risk-taking, brash, hotshot pilot of yore. I’m excited by the prospect, but also a little nervous, for that brings us back to the commonly held opinion that Solo will perish come December 18th. Writers Abrams and Kasden may have found their justification for offing our favorite smuggler. Solo might die for one of his children. Ugh, it’s a creeping fear of mine (sorry, couldn’t help it…). But it could be argued that a heroic death would infuse the whole saga with a deeper emotional resonance. The stakes would be sky high, the audience would hate the villains so much more, and the surviving good characters would have an even greater motivation to defeat the evil First Order.
A counter argument is that Solo’s impending death is almost too predictable, and given Abrams’ desire to keep the fans guessing, we all may be in for a surprise as to who stays and who dies. This is admittedly a bit of a stretch, though. No one, including the powers that be, may have had a choice. This is, after all, Mr. Harrison Ford. His involvement may have been predicated on the agreement that he only appears in the first installment of the sequel trilogy. This would also fall in line with the general idea that the new films, while furthering the entire story, also serve to hand the lightsaber baton off from the old generation to the new.
What do you think?
Should we get a vintage swashbuckling Han, or one with the calm disposition of an older man who’s seen a few too many wars? Is he with Leia? Did they even have children, or did their romance fizzle right after the Battle of Endor? Does he even survive The Force Awakens? Three decades is quite a stretch, and the possibilities for Han’s arc are endless. No matter his fate, no matter how long we get him, I hope Han Solo lights up the screen with wit, ingenuity, energy, and a flash of that somewhat crooked, wry smile.
Perhaps this is all Harrison Ford’s revenge. Only time, and the story, will tell…