Han Solo is a character in the Star Wars franchise, portrayed in film by Harrison Ford. In the original film trilogy, Han and his co-pilot, Chewbacca, become involved in the Rebel Alliance which opposes the Galactic Empire. During the course of the Star Wars story, he becomes a chief figure in the Alliance and succeeding galactic governments. Star Wars creator George Lucas described the character as "a loner who realizes the importance of being part of a group and helping for the common good". Alden Ehrenreich will portray a young Han Solo in an upcoming spinoff film.
Han Solo is introduced in Star Wars (1977), when he and his co-pilot Chewbacca accept a charter request to transport Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO and R2-D2 to Alderaan on their ship, the Millennium Falcon. Han owes crime lord Jabba the Hutt a great deal of money after dumping his cargo, and has a price on his head; when the bounty hunter Greedo tries to deliver him to Jabba, Han shoots him and prepares to leave. Han and his passengers are attacked by Imperial stormtroopers, but escape after going into light speed. When they arrive at Alderaan, however, they discover that the planet has been destroyed. The Falcon is then captured and held within the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station constructed by the Galactic Empire. Han and company hide from detection inside the Falcon's smuggling bays, and infiltrate the station disguised as stormtroopers. They discover that Princess Leia Organa is a prisoner on board, and Luke convinces Han to help rescue her by promising him a huge reward. They rescue Leia and escape after Obi-Wan is killed by Sith Lord Darth Vader.
After delivering Luke, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 to the Rebel Alliance, Han and Chewbacca receive a payment for their services and prepare to leave. Luke asks him to stay and help the Rebels attack the Death Star, but Han refuses, not wanting to get involved. However, he has a change of heart and returns to save Luke's life during the film's climactic battle scene, ultimately enabling Luke to destroy the Death Star. For his heroics, Han is presented with a medal of honor.
The Empire Strikes Back
Han Solo returns with the Rebel Alliance to Echo Base on the frozen planet of Hoth. While out on patrol with Luke, they witness a meteor strike the surface. Han returns to base while Luke decides to investigate. Han informs Leia and the General of Echo Base that he must leave in order to clear his debt with Jabba. Before he can depart, it is discovered that Luke has not returned from his reconnaissance. Han rides out alone into the frozen Hoth wastelands, soon finding Luke badly injured and near death from exposure. Using his friend's lightsaber, Han cuts open his tauntaun, providing Luke warmth while he builds a shelter until they can be rescued the next morning.
Later, Han and Chewbacca are sent out to investigate another meteor strike. They discover that the 'meteor' is actually an Imperial Probe Droid. The two succeed in destroying the probe, but not before the Empire is alerted to the location of Echo Base.
When the Empire attacks Echo Base, Han, Chewie, Leia, and C-3PO narrowly escape on board the Millennium Falcon. Han evades a squad of Imperial TIE fighters by flying through an asteroid field, and unwittingly flies into the mouth of a giant worm. Han and Leia fall in love during the long journey. They manage to hide from the Imperial fleet long enough to escape, but not entirely unnoticed. Bounty hunter Boba Fett secretly follows the Falcon during this getaway.
Han and company eventually end up at the Bespin system's Cloud City seeking repairs and shelter from his old friend Lando Calrissian, the city's administrator. However, Fett had arrived first and alerted the Empire. Under threat of death, Lando betrays Han to the Empire. Darth Vader wishes to capture Luke Skywalker by carbon freezing him, and to test its lethality, Vader subjects Solo to the carbon freezing process first. Solo survives, his captors are satisfied, and with a carbonite Han Solo in tow, Boba Fett leaves for Tatooine to collect a bounty from Jabba the Hutt.
Return of the Jedi
Han Solo, still imprisoned in carbonite, is now a possession of Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. Luke devises a rescue operation and goes to Jabba's palace with Lando, Leia, C-3PO and R2D2 to rescue him. Jabba catches them, however, and sentences Han and Luke to die in the Sarlaac Pit. Luke, Leia and Han overpower their captors and escape, killing Jabba in the process.
Retreating back to the Rebel Base, they discover that the Empire is building another Death Star around the Forest Moon of Endor. Following his return, Han is made a general in the Rebel Alliance along with Leia. Reuniting with Luke after his return from Dagobah, Han leads the Rebels down to Endor to take down the force field surrounding the battle station, which is still under construction. With help from the native Ewoks, Han and his team destroy the Death Star's shield generator, allowing Lando and his strike force to destroy the Death Star. Han then reunites with Leia and Luke on Endor to celebrate the defeat of the Empire.
The Force Awakens
In The Force Awakens, set approximately 30 years after Return of the Jedi, Han Solo has returned to his old life as a smuggler. He and Chewbacca lose the Millennium Falcon to thieves, but they reclaim the ship after it takes off from the planet Jakku, piloted by the scavenger Rey and the renegade stormtrooper Finn. As mercenaries close in on them, Han takes the Falcon into light speed, and they get away. When Han learns that Rey is looking for Luke, who disappeared years before, he takes them to Maz Kanata, who can deliver the droid BB-8 to the Resistance. They are forced to flee when First Order troops descend upon them. Han is impressed with Rey's piloting skills, and offers her a job on the Falcon. She declines his offer, but comes to think of him as a mentor and father figure. When Rey is kidnapped by the First Order, Han sees her being carried off by Kylo Ren, whom Han seems to recognize.
Han and Finn meet with the Resistance, which is led by Leia, whom Han has not seen in many years; while it is never confirmed in the film, Han and Leia were married and are still, according to the official Force Awakens novelization. It is then revealed that Ren is their son, Ben Solo, who trained as a Jedi under Luke. However, he was corrupted by the First Order's supreme leader, Snoke, and turned to the dark side. As Kylo Ren, he betrayed the Republic and destroyed the Jedi – much like his grandfather, Darth Vader. Heartbroken by Ben's betrayal, Han and Leia separated, while Luke went into exile. Leia asks him to find Ben and bring him home, convinced that there is still good in him.
Han and Chewbacca go with Finn to the First Order's battle station, Starkiller Base, to destroy the base and rescue Rey. There, he sees Kylo Ren walk onto the bridge above the reactor chasm. Han follows Ren onto the bridge, and calls out to him by his real name. Trying to save his son from the dark side, Han pleads with him to abandon it and to come back with him. Kylo Ren tells Han that he knows what he should do, but that he doesn't have the strength to do it. He asks Han to help him. Han agrees. After a moment, an unrepentant Ren ignites his lightsaber, impaling his own father. Han looks into his son's eyes and touches his face before falling off the bridge and into the reactor, to his death.
On February 6, 2013, Entertainment Weekly reported that The Walt Disney Company, the new owner of Lucasfilm since 2012, is developing a stand-alone film featuring Han Solo which would take place between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). On July 7, 2015, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were hired as the film's directors, and it will see a May 25, 2018, release.
Disney reportedly narrowed the choices down to three finalists to play the young Han Solo: Alden Ehrenreich, Jack Reynor and Taron Egerton. On May 5, 2016, Ehrenreich was cast as Solo in the film. On July 17, 2016 at the Stars Wars Celebration Europe 2016 in London, Lord and Miller revealed the process of casting Ehrenreich for the role. They said, "This was the hardest casting challenge of all time. It's the biggest boots to fill - trying to get someone who can capture all of those essences you think of as Han. We did a very, very, very exhaustive search. We saw over 3,000 people for the part, all across the world. We cast it through five or six different offices, acting schools across America and the UK, cowboy bars, everything you can imagine. We made sure we turned over every rock to find someone has the charisma and the maverick swagger and the sweetness. Turns out that was a total waste of money because the person who got the part was the first person to audition, literally the first person to walk in the door. I apologize to Kathleen Kennedy for wasting all that money, but it's nice to be sure though."
With the 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, most of the licensed Star Wars novels and comics produced since the originating 1977 film Star Wars were rebranded as Star Wars Legends and declared non-canon to the franchise in April 2014.
Brian Daley wrote a series of novels (The Han Solo Adventures), first published in 1979, exploring Han Solo and Chewbecca's smuggling adventures, and Ann C. Crispin's The Han Solo Trilogy (1997–1998) further develops the character's backstory. Crispin's books depict Solo as a beggar and pickpocket throughout much of his youth. He becomes a pilot and, in the process of undermining a religious fraud, falls in love with Bria Tharen, who disappears before Solo joins the Imperial Navy. Solo loses his commission and is cashiered when he refuses an order to skin Chewbacca for commandeering a ship carrying Wookiee children destined for slavery; Chewbacca, in turn, swears a "life-debt" to Solo. The two become smugglers, and help repel an Imperial blockade of a Hutt moon. Solo soon thereafter wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian in a card tournament. Tharen, now a Rebel agent, reappears and asks for Solo, Chewbacca and Calrissian's help in attacking a slave colony. After succeeding, Tharen's troopers steal the smuggler's valuables to aid the Rebel Alliance. To compensate their losses, Solo and Chewbacca accept a smuggling job from Jabba the Hutt; but Imperial ships force the smugglers to jettison their cargo, invoking the debt Solo and Chewbacca owe the Hutt at the beginning of Star Wars.
Solo plays a central role in a couple of Star Wars stories set after Return of the Jedi. In The Courtship of Princess Leia (1995), he resigns his commission to pursue Leia, whom he eventually marries. Solo and Leia have three children: twins Jaina and Jacen and son Anakin. Han Solo was the general in command of the New Republic task force assigned to track down Imperial Warlord Zsinj and his forces, in the 1999 novel Solo Command. Chewbacca dies saving Anakin's life in Vector Prime (1999), sending Solo into a deep depression. In Star by Star (2001), Anakin dies as well, compounding Solo's despair. At the end of the series, however, Solo accepts the deaths of his son and his best friend, and reconciles with his family.
In the Legacy of the Force series, Jacen Solo becomes the Sith Lord Darth Caedus and plunges the galaxy into a bloody civil war. Solo disowns Jacen, but is still devastated by each new outrage his son commits. He and Leia adopt Allana (Jacen's daughter) after Jacen's death in the novel Invincible.
Influence and critical reaction
Han Solo is a reckless smuggler with a sarcastic wit; he is "a very practical guy" and considers himself "a materialist"; but the adventures in the first Star Wars movie evoke his compassion, a trait "he didn't know he possessed".
The American Film Institute ranked Solo as the 14th greatest film hero. He was also deemed the 4th greatest movie character of all-time by Empire magazine. Entertainment Weekly ranked the character 7th on their list of The All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture. On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, Fandomania.com ranked Solo at number 15. IGN listed Han Solo as the second greatest Star Wars character of all time (behind Darth Vader), as well as listing him as one of the top 10 characters who most needed a spin-off, saying he was "Arguably the coolest character in the Star Wars universe".
Prince of Persia producer Ben Mattes explained that their "inspiration was anything Harrison Ford has ever done: Indiana Jones, Han Solo". The antihero of the Japanese manga and anime Space Adventure Cobra has been compared by reviewers to Solo. In preparing to play James T. Kirk, Chris Pine drew inspiration from Ford's depictions of Han Solo and Indiana Jones, highlighting their humor and "accidental hero" traits.
Solo has been merchandised in multiple media, including action figures, video games, and other collectibles. A Han Solo action figure with "human proportions" was released in 1977 to coincide with the release of the original Star Wars, while a figure created for the films' mid-1990s re-release was criticized as "unrealistically muscled."
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