The Death of Han Solo: A trilogy at risk as The Millennium Falcon rises once more

( I originally wrote this article a year and a half ago, but after seeing a preview of the film, can confirm that Han Solo does die in The Force Awakens.  So read the rest of this knowing that it has happened, and that it will have an impact on the franchise going forward.  While Harrison Ford was reluctant to play the part in the past, the death of that character will be difficult for Disney’s expectations in the future.  They should have waited, but they did it, and now Star Wars fans will have to deal with it.  For me personally, a long time Star Wars fan–so much so that it has been a major part of my family’s life for three decades–I’m out.  That did it for me.)  December 16th, 2015.  I feel like a real sucker waiting three damn years for that shitting revelation.  Bad move Disney……..It was good while it lasted.

(I guess I’ll burn my favorite shirt now)


Apparently word from inside the Episode VII Star Wars film has leaked that Han Solo will die in the upcoming trilogy, and while this doesn’t surprise me given that such a plot point gives weight to the plight of the next generation and their tasks during the mythic journey which they are a part of—I can’t say that I will enjoy the films because of it. If not for Han Solo, I would likely not enjoy Star Wars so much. From those films Solo’s prized pirate ship The Millennium Falcon is the symbol of those famous films which have changed pop culture. I have written about this before—actually extensively and I realized just how important The Millennium Falcon and Han Solo was to society when I saw a Falcon shirt at Target of all places the other day. Solo is the glue that holds Star Wars together and without him—and his common sense of “shooting first” the popular space opera is just another movie. So I can’t image Star Wars without Han Solo. I’ll give it a shot, but likely it will be earth shattering for millions of fans when he dies on-screen.

The Falcon is in the news this week because the Internet was on fire regarding news of the full-sized Falcon being built for Episode VII. I have thought for years of doing just what Chris Lee from Nashville is currently doing—and that is building a full-sized Millennium Falcon. I have priced the project at around $15 million dollars to do it the way I want to do it, and Chris is attempting to build one with volunteer help and donations, which can be seen at his website shown at the link below.   Chris just spoke at a TED Talks event and is preparing to show parts of his full-sized Falcon build—including the landing gear, the turret, dish, and cockpit at Star Wars Celebration in 2015 in Anaheim, California. Lee’s work is very impressive and is on track to build a full-sized Falcon within a decade at this pace. He still needs funding, but the resurgence of Star Wars should help keep things going—slowly. But no matter what level of love for The Millennium Falcon that there is, all fans loved the pictures seen of the full-sized set being built-in England which can be seen on Lee’s site:

Of late, my relationship to the Falcon has been that I fly one nearly exclusively in the Star Wars Miniatures Game: X-Wing. I flew in my first tournament over the previous weekend and had a tremendous amount of fun. I currently am running a build that allows Han Solo to be the pilot, and for the Falcon to perform barrel rolls, evasion, and engine upgrades based on my experience after the tournament. It is an expensive build for the tabletop role-playing game that is essentially a tactical exercise, but the goal is to make the Falcon as close to the speed and flexibility of a TIE Interceptor, which is actually more appropriate for its role in the movies. The reason it isn’t done more often is because it is hard to fly. One thing that I noticed during the tournament even though I lacked experience at playing at that level, I was able to fly much better than average—so it would be wise to play to that strength.

For that same game I created a build called the “Corellian Massacre” which consists of the speedy and agile YT-1300 along with two escort ships consisting of two HWK-290s, one flown by Kyle Katarn. The two HWK-290s are designed to slow down my opponent long enough for the Falcon to chip away at their ships from outside their firing arcs—with the extra speed and agility for such a large ship. The risk is bouncing off the board or into asteroids, but that is where the pilot skill comes into play. It’s not a build for everyone—but it is one that I love. I have even bigger plans for the Wave 4 ships again capitalizing off the Falcon which has me very excited.

That’s why it would surprise me if Disney allowed Han Solo or the Falcon to be killed off. I think Harrison Ford wants it. I think the writers feel they must do it so to give a proper story context to the crises of the children in the series—the whole mythic atonement with the father issue which drives most mythology. After all, a healthy happy family between Han, Leia and their children does not bring crises to the situation enough to merit a sense of peril. The Empire Strikes Back has long been considered not just the best Star Wars film, but one of the best films of all time—and in it Han Solo was tortured and frozen, so surely the Star Wars team thinks that the series can survive without the character—but I’m not so sure. At least then there was a hope of coming back, and The Millennium Falcon was still the vehicle for all the heroes. If one or both of those elements are missing in the upcoming trilogy it will be a massive loss to the gravitas of the overall fan experience.

There will be stand alone films, Boba Fett is set to get one probably directed by the current Godzilla director and Han Solo will get his own film around 2018 playing a much younger man—obviously not Harrison Ford. Disney is planning to still give fans their Han Solo fix, but it will come after the tragedy that will occur in the upcoming series. Disney is planning their amusement park centered around a Star Wars theme and there will likely be a full-sized Falcon there for fans to tour and walk around which will be fantastic. Hopefully by that time Chris will be nearly complete in his own version of the classic Corellian pirate vessel. There will be a lot of Falcons out there in the world in new spectacular ways that many never thought possible before. But Han Solo’s future adventures will be coming to an end and that is a possibility that will be difficult to overcome thematically. The Jedi are a neat concept, but Star Wars gets it’s teeth through pirates, scoundrels, and rebels, and Han Solo is a bit of all those characters rolled up into one. He is essentially an Ayn Rand character meant to achieve a character arc of sacrifice who took over the series in popularity against the wishes of creator George Lucas. Han Solo was an accident—a good accident because through him millions of people gravitated to Star Wars as a mythology exploring good against evil in the context of gigantic galaxy spanning politics.

For me the love of Star Wars will likely die when Han Solo does and I will still fly the Falcon in X-Wing Miniatures 30 years from now refusing to acknowledge the history of Star Wars after the death of Han Solo. And a certain amount of the magic for me will die with the character as I’m sure it will for millions of similar fans. The question will be–can Star Wars live on without Han Solo? Just look at the Prequels and the answer will tell the story and those results may not be what Disney is looking for.

Rich Hoffman