At some point we’ve all been broom boy, staring up at the stars and wishing for me. Where do I belong? What is my calling? What is my role in all of this? These questions are all questions we ask ourselves, and we look for answers in numerous places, some good and some not so much so.
This is the story of Luke Skywalker. And Han Solo. And Rey. Any Kylo. And Padme. And Ahsoka. You get the point.
Star Wars is about many things, but at the core of those things is figuring out who oneself is and what that means to the larger narrative of the galaxy around them, but possibly never more so than the new films under the Disney banner.
“You have no place in this story. You come from nothing. Your nothing. “ Kylo Ren may say this to try and convince, or break, Rey into joining him, but this is Star Wars at its most grassroots. In 1977, Luke Skywalker was a nobody. He came from nothing and,until Empire Strikes Back, he had no lineage of note. He was a hero because he was a good guy, plain and simple.
This is what Solo brings us back to that is so important. Even after Empire Strikes Back, Luke was still a nobody character. Anakin Skywalker was recognized as Luke’s father, rather than Luke being recognized as Anakin’s son. But now an entire generation has grown up on the prequel era material that is Anakin centric, and thus he has become the focal point for many Star Wars fans. But even if one is to consider Luke the central figure, he is no longer a nobody. He is the son of the Chosen One. He has a place in this story.
Han Solo, on the other hand, doesn’t. His lineage is so unimportant that he does not even use his given name. He has no people. He’s a scrumrat with nothing to bring to the table of value.
Except his heart. Just like Luke before him, his heart is what sets Han apart. He is “the good guy” who will always help the one in need. In the original trilogy, we see Han Solo’s true self despite his presented facade of selfish arrogance. Coming back for Luke at the Battle of Yavin. Saving Leia from Hoth base. Leading a suicide mission onto the sanctuary moon. None of these actions did anything to help “Han Solo”. They didn’t get him paid, get Jabba off his back, or make his life any easier. In fact, they probably made his life harder. But he knew, deep down, he had to do them. That’s just who he is, the good guy.
It is important that someone from the original trilogy, particularly one of the big three, be such a figure. A nobody from nowhere. The original trilogy, at least for now, is the grounding of Star Wars. Even with the prequels, it all comes back to the original films. However, with all of the additional material, we lost part of what made Star Wars so great. We lost the story of the nobody.
Star Wars is coming back to that now. Rey is nothing. A nobody from nowhere who has no place in this story. Just like Han. By having Solo come so soon after The Last Jedi, it is inarguable that Star Wars is back to telling stories about the nobodies. Solo gives us that reminder that one of our original heroes was a nobody, so therefore it makes sense that our future heroes be the same. This is not to say that we need Han to validate Rey’s story nor her place in the galaxy, but rather to re-establish that the hero’s journey is for anyone, and everyone, no matter gender, creed, or color. Star Wars is for the nobodies, by the nobodies, about the nobodies. And in being such, it allows us to become our own somebody.