I recently re-watched the ending of last year’s Star Wars: Rogue One. If you’ve seen the movie, then you know the part I’m talking about: a small squad of rebels come face-to-face with the terrifying Darth Vader. This brief scene probably shouldn’t have been included in the movie, but it does finally present to audiences the full horror of fighting Vader as a normal, non-force powered person. I guess “fighting” is probably not the right term because really the whole thing is pretty one-sided. Anyway, I won’t bore you with my analysis of Rogue One (it isn’t very good) or the weird state of modern Star Wars. As I sat there, re-watching the good guys get hacked to bits, I thought about my man Han Solo.
See, the original trilogy has a lot of great elements, but probably the thing I like about it the most is that there are regular people mixed-in with the super-powerful Jedi. When I was a kid, I was all about Luke and his journey, which makes sense. Kids live in a world where they feel pretty helpless, and the idea of tapping into a mighty cosmic power source that would allow you to save your friends is appealing to children. But once I got older, I realized what a burden that level of power would be. This, I suspect, will be touched on this winter in the next Star Wars (what with Luke’s exile and his fallen apprentice). Older me suddenly saw the appeal of Han Solo. Han is a good pilot and a good fighter, but he’s not a Jedi. Luke blows up the first Death Star, but the only reason he’s able to do so is that Han (and Chewie) show up and take out Vader’s Tie Fighter!
I could probably write forever about all the things that make Han Solo such a righteous badass, but watching the final scene of Rogue One I realized just how awesome Solo really is. There is a scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Lando walks Han, Leia, and Chewie into a dining room where Vader is waiting for them. All of our heroes are stunned, this is the evilest person in the galaxy just sitting there at a table, waiting for them. If this happened to you or me, we’d stammer and perhaps exclaim in disbelief. But not my man, Solo. Han doesn’t miss a beat, he pulls out his blaster and shoots Vader. Think about that for a second. Han’s reaction is nearly instant! He see’s Vader and starts shooting. Of course, Han is woefully under-matched against the Sith, who strangely absorbs his blaster fire. If you watch, Chewie makes no movement for his weapon, which is surprising because honestly, you’d think the fearless Wookie would be the one to attack Vader. Han Solo probably knows he isn’t going to become the most famous man in the galaxy because he shot and killed Vader, where many countless others had failed. He’s just a great big ball of confident instinct, and his instinct had him fight.
Even against an impervious foe, Han Solo doesn’t give up without a fight. More than shooting Greedo first (or not, depending on the cut), this moment in Empire shows us who the space pirate really is. Here’s hoping the new trilogy gives some of the new heroes some wordless, character-defining moments.