Everyone, at some point or another, has wanted to be Han Solo. He is cool, roguish, and always has an answer in the seemingly answerless situations.
But as we grow up and become weathered by the world, we realize that we really are Han Solo. Not that we are lovable scoundrels, but that we are broken. The world has exacted its toll, and we feel more in debt than if we had dumped our shipment at the first sign of Imperial entanglement.
So Han’s story resonates with us. If he can find his place in the galaxy, so can we; if he can help a broken galaxy, maybe we can help a broken world. At the very least, we can find our “tribe or family.” What’s the difference, right?
Thanks to Solo, Han’s story has been altered, and if we want to continue to relate to him we must shift our understanding of his journey. No longer is Han just a smuggler turned hero. He is so much more. Now, more than ever, Han Solo is you. And me. And everyone.
We like Han in the original trilogy because he has the journey we all hope for, but now he also has the journey we have all been through. There are certain things that are common happenings in everyone’s life, and thus are true for our every-man character as well. When we are young, we all have a dream. Han’s is freedom. We all have that love that seems to have slipped away. Han has Qi’ra. We all have that person who we trusted that let us down, betrayed us, or just did not live up to the idolization that we have bestowed on him or her. Han has Beckett.
But we also have that friend, like Chewbacca, who sticks by us even when we are not making the best decisions. The one who sets our sail right without us even noticing, and guides us down a path where we can overcome our own inner scoundrel and realize our best selves, as Han does at the end of Empire Strikes Back.
Having Han’s full story, from his first “mission” escaping to Corellia to his death at the hands of his own son, give us a perspective we rarely get in fiction. We know his full story, like we do for Luke Skywalker. Luke starts his journey as a child looking for his place, grabs onto his identity in Return of the Jedi, and uses that to propel him to Crait, where he keeps hope alive for the galaxy yet again. Luke’s story starts with a twin sunset and ends with a twin sunset. The circle is complete.
Though not as strictly mythical as Luke’s hero’s journey, Han’s arc follows a very similar path. Like Luke, when Han is a child he wants adventure. Eventually he grabs onto his identity, and ends his story by dying in a manner that propels Rey to dedicate herself to the Resistance (and possibly to saving his son from the dark side). Han’s story starts in a dark alley lighting a spark to get his speeder going, and ends with a spark that causes Ben Solo to start his re-emergence and lights a fire in Rey that moves her forward. The circle is complete.
Life is a fickle and cruelly short endeavors. We can only hope that we, like Han Solo before us, can overcome, adapt, and realize our best selves.