I was always a Han Solo guy. Always have been, always will be. Chances are you are too. In fact, I have a difficult time thinking of a friend or a fellow-fan who enthusiastically attached himself to Luke or Anakin Skywalker instead of the George Lucas galaxy's most lovable rogue.
In the Star Wars universe, virtually everybody is either a Han Solo person or a Skywalker person. You just are. You are in one camp or the other, even if you think you aren't. In the original trilogy, it was these two characters that carried the plot forward and everybody else was just hanging on. In the second (first) trilogy, it was all about Luke's Pop Anakin.
Luke of course was the character of destiny. He was the young hero born in obscurity on the outer reaches of the galaxy who was really so much more than he appeared. Instead of the unimportant moisture farmer he seemed to be, he was the son of the most feared and menacing figure in the entire galaxy. In the great fantasy tradition, he was one of the common people who was extraordinary beyond his wildest imagination. It was the tie between Luke and his father Anakin that bound up the fate of everything and everybody else. So, yea, I concede that Luke was important and obviously his dad, a top-five greatest cinematic villain of all time, was pretty important as Darth Vader, however, to me each was far less interesting than Mr. Solo.
Yes, the fate of the galaxy hung on the Skywalker family, but it was Han who really made me care about a galaxy far, far away.
I know some of you readers are already thinking that I am over-simplifying things and you are naming characters left and right that you prefer to either Solo or Skywalker, but no matter which character you are thinking of, they are in place to serve Han or Luke and Anakin.
My most favorite character happens to be Chewbacca. As much as I like the most famous walking carpet in any galaxy, he is after all only a sidekick. He only exists to add more to Solo. He adopts whatever cause Han tells him to and he goes along for the ride. He doesn't even have real dialog except when translated by Solo. But the Wookiee isn't the exception, he is the rule.
If you like a bounty hunter, just remember, the only reason they show up in Star Wars is to capture or kill Han Solo, no matter how 'cool' you deem them. Don't talk Bobba Fett or IG-88 or Bossk without remembering that they can thank Solo for even getting them in the movie. Otherwise they would be as important in the Star Wars saga as the guy who picks up your garbage once a week or the name of the girl who handed you a bag of fries today at the pick-up window.
The same goes for Lando, or Admiral Calrissian. Sure he led the assault on the second Death Star, but with Solo's Millennium Falcon, and I don't even need to mention who recruited him to the Rebel's cause in the first place do I?
You can keep throwing out movie characters if you want, but no matter who you claim to like, they are in the story because of everybody's favorite smuggler or because of the Skywalker father and son. Sorry, it is just the way it is.
Yoda? The mystic mentor to both Skywalkers.
Obi-Wan? Anakin's friend, Luke's teacher, a bridge between generations.
Padme Amidala. Too easy. Wife, lover, Mother.
Darth Maul you say? A better argument can be made, but he existed to really teach us about the Sith, to act as a precursor to Darth Vader and really, he is dead after just one movie! That goes for Qui-Gon Jinn as well.
Jar Jar Binks? Well I said favorite not frivolous, but he was Anakin's buddy and besides a quick cameo or two, he is a one-flick character as well.
Leia Organa (Solo) is one of the strongest characters in the flick but she is both a Skywalker and part of Han's entourage and she isn't moving the plot forward unless it is worrying about Luke, saving Han or helping one of them with a particular cause.
Finally, don't talk about droids to me. Interesting? Sure. But they are machines programmed to behave a certain way and are virtually slaves to 'Master Luke' or whoever else is holding the leash. R2-D2 is more of an individual than C-3PO but like Chewie, we only hear his dialog when translated and he exists to give Luke or Han or Anakin more tools to save the day.
So, as the movies go, it is the Skywalker's galaxy and everybody else is just living in it except Han Solo, who with his swashbuckling attitude and free-living spirit actually changes the course of events. He transports Jedi, avoids the Empire, leads bounty hunters here and there, saves Princesses, saves Skywalkers, braves asteroid fields and defies impossible odds to snatch victory away at the last moment time and time again.
So, generally, fans are either in the Skywalker camp or the Solo camp. And I have always been a Solo guy.
In first grade Matt Cuculich and I used to play Star Wars as kids with our well-worn action figures (mine had pink finger-nail polish on the bottom of the feet so we could tell them apart) and sometimes home-made toy accessories. Matt and I were pretty easy going with our time and possessions, sharing toys and figures as though we owned them collectively rather than individually. We were best friends and Star Wars fanatics.
I wasn't devious enough at that grade-school age to be anything but sincere, but there was a fantastic benefit to having the guy as my best friend: His Dad owned or managed a movie theater that showed films that weren't quite second run. This meant that occasionally we had little perks, like seeing the original 'Superman' movie a couple of weeks before it opened and then having a 'job' cleaning the auditorium on Saturdays between showings of 'Star Wars' now officially retitled 'A New Hope'. We were paid something like $5 to pick up popcorn boxes and cups and candy wrappers and then were allowed to watch 'Star Wars' again and again.
At some point on a Saturday after we'd viewed the flick four times (I pretty much held the record at Butler Elementary for most viewings) I realized at a tender age, as I listened to the John Williams score swell while Luke stares into the duel setting suns of Tatooine, that I really didn't care all that much and I wished he would hurry up and get to the cantina so I could see the gigantic Wookie and the smirking smuggler.
For me it was all about the smuggling duo and their cool bucket of bolts, the Millennium Falcon. Matt Cuculich had a Death Star play set but I had the Falcon. He had an X-wing fighter for Luke (me too I think) but I had a TIE-Fighter to give Chewie something to pilot against and Han something to shoot the wings off of.
Sure Luke was interesting and sympathetic; his character matures and grows and shows courage and strength and goodness and is admirable, but I am a Han Solo guy through and through.
Lucas was masterful when he cast Harrison Ford as the cocksure bad-boy of the Star Wars universe. As is well documented, Lucas used Ford to read Solo's lines while trying to fit in the rest of the cast before finally realizing he was perfect for the part. The list of considered actors included James Caan, Nick Nolte, Burt Reynolds, Kurt Russell, and Christopher Walken. Looking back now, Walken should play 'Solo' somewhere, somehow. I know I would buy a ticket but I digress.
Top reasons why I like Han better than Luke / Anakin
- Han never kissed his sister
- Solo never, ever, ever went into Toshi Station to pick up power converters
- All of Han's hands were actually Han's
- Han navigated an asteroid field, Luke couldn't navigate trees on Dagobah
- Han isn't a little short to be a stormtroooper
- Sidekick Chewbacca or sidekick Jar Jar?
- His nickname isn't 'Annie'
- When Han fixes ships its harrowing and interesting, not silly
- If you want, Solo can arrange for you to kiss a Wookiee
- Solo fires first
Ford has had a fine career delivering in such quality films as 'Witness,' 'The Mosquito Coast,' and 'The Fugitive.' But, he will always be most well-known for his adventurous swashbuckling roles of Han Solo and Indiana Jones. While not duplicates of each other, the two characters have more in common than they have differences and not just because of the masterful delivery of an actor. Nobody does the impish adventurer better than Ford, although Hollywood has tried and mostly failed many times. The actor took a good character and made him great. More than great, he made him unforgettable.
As a kid I didn't understand the charm and warmth that Ford managed to bring to the role, but I definitely understood how cool Solo was. After gunning down the skuzzy Greedo he simply says, "Sorry about the mess" and goes on his way. Wow! And after invading a cell block and shooting the Death Star natives to pieces, Ford as Solo delivers the perfect awkward explanation by way of intercom. Legend has it that Ford intentionally didn't learn these lines so his awkwardness would be apparent on screen.
Anyway, Cuculich and I played a lot of Star Wars and in our versions of the film, it wasn't Luke who finally confronted Vader, it was Han and Chewie. The Wookiee's formidable size and strength seemed like the only possible threat there could be to a guy who waltzes around and picks people up by their throats. Chewie would hurl the little Hasbro action figures across the playset while Han would draw his blaster and gun down stormtroopers left and right.
I will never forget the cinematic joy I felt during 'The Empire Strikes Back' when a door on Cloud City lifted to reveal Vader, meeting my heroes face to face. Chewbacca wails in anger while Solo, like a cowboy at high noon in the old west, draws his blaster and fires a bolt at the scariest icon in the known galaxy. For the briefest of moments I thought Cuculich and I had been right and the pair were going to take down the evil figurehead of the Empire! Alas, Vader merely palmed Han's deadly plasma blast to the side and in moments they were prisoners, but even then the ultimate Star Wars confrontation had happened! It was cool cool cool!
I don't recall if our games changed after that, but I feel certain they did. We probably plotted new ways for Wookiees to take revenge and smugglers to trick stormtroopers, bounty hunters, and the guys with really big helmets. By the time 'Return of the Jedi' was hitting theaters, the action figures (dolls for boys!) were put away. I was older and busier and didn't play with toys the same way, but one thing never changed and that was my status as a Solo guy.
He recklessly charged stormtroopers, back-talked a princess and charmed Leia when she claimed to want nothing to do with him. Han Solo is the man most of us either wish we were or wish we were dating, while Luke and Anakin are probably the guys we have more in common with on our best days. We whine and worry and second-guess our decisions, while our doubts and weaknesses hold us back. We wish we cared less about what people thought and instead were going ahead with swashbuckling fun and boldness.
Luke and Anakin may own the galaxy,
but Han (and Chewie) make it worth visiting.
All of this only means that I like Han better. I enjoy the movies most when he is on-screen. I enjoy Harrison Ford's delivery and the dynamics of the smuggler turned reluctant hero and his shaggy muscled friend more than the mystic Force in the universe and the family of destiny. I can't wait to see how fans disagree and I look forward to some heat in my email inbox, but you can't change my mind. I am a Solo guy. Always have been, always will be.
Do you have a 'Top Ten Reasons I like Han better than Luke'?
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