One of Harrison Ford’s most known roles, there is no one on this earth who doesn’t know the name Han Solo. He’s the badass from Star Wars that was so perfectly cast that the actor who was in charge of reading lines to those auditioning got cast in the role. His cinematic importance is unchallenged, and I want to talk about it.
To begin, Solo would be nothing without Star Wars. The Sci-Fi behemoth is acclaimed worldwide, and many of its characters could qualify for a TIO. However, I chose Solo because he is the most unique of the three. While it may not seem likely, Han was one of the first of his type. Today all our sic-fi heroes are fun-loving cynics with a bit of an ego and an underlying honor. Those characters are all part of the same group, the Han Solo Types. Guardians of the Galaxy broke records in fact for the most Han Solos in a single film. Everything about Han felt real. While Luke was the typical hero and Leia was the typical princess/ strong and independent woman, Han felt like a conduit for all the viewers at home. He saw the fantastical world he lived in through a realistic lens, never ceasing to call out the stupid stuff (“That’s not how the force works!”) While he may have come off as self absorbed in the first film, in reality he was doing the same thing we all would do in that situation. He wanted to stay alive and wasn’t happy taking extraneous risks. Yet despite this, he was still a hero and still took the risk to come back and help Luke. Throughout the series, everyones favorite smuggler grew more ties and felt more love for his friends, just as the audience did. He was smooth-talking and capable of getting out of any situation, like we all wish we were, yet he was far from calm. Every other moment, he was yelling or freaking out, or killing something. However, we still loved him because we sympathized with him. Luke may have been our hero but we went on the adventure with Han, and that is why he is so many people’s favorite character.
Han was also unique from a story telling perspective. In the typical Heroes Journey, you have the archetypes for an engaging story. You focus on an unlikely hero (Luke), accompanied by the mentor (Obi-wan) and watch them battle an all-powerful enemy (The Empire.) As they go along, they meet several other side characters like the Jester. The Jester is the one who provides comedic relief and tries to stop the Hero from fulfilling his duty. Usually, he is shown as greedy, lazy, and selfish. The Jester in the New Hope is Han. He tells Luke not to fight and is only invested in his own safety. As the series goes on he becomes a more rounded character with more heroic ties, eventually ending with a heroic sacrifice, but he was still the one that helped spread the idea of having a Jester in your big Three.
As I’ve stated, Han has a huge influence in cinema. He started the Maverick, or Han Solo, type and popularized the use of a sarcastic and cynical leading man. He made strides in audience reliability and emphasized that even the most unrealistic stories needed to be grounded in their characters. Cinema wouldn’t be the same without the juggernaut of Star Wars, and it definitely wouldn’t be the same without Han.