Han Solo is one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars. Appearing for the first time in the 4th episode of the saga, he made an impact thanks to his controversial personality. Part outlaw, part hero, he’s a confusing but endearing character. The fact that he was played by the famous actor Harrison Ford until the ninth opus only amplified his celebrity.
Such is his fame, which has only grown with time and episodes, that he’s even had a film dedicated to him that tells his story. Solo: A Star Wars Story was released in 2018, starring young actor Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo.
Who is it? What role did he play in the intergalactic war? Why is he considered one of the saga’s most important characters?
Find out all there is to know about the famous captain of the Millennium Falcon, the valiant knight of space.
His birth & childhood
Han Solo’s childhood is shrouded in mystery. In the canon universe, there are no details about his origins, his parents or what made him the famous space smuggler he became. We’ll find out a little more later, in 2014, in the Star Wars Legends universe.
We discover that the character was born in 29 B.C.E. on the industrial world and comes from a wealthy family. He is a descendant of Brethron e Solo, a great politician known for establishing democracy on Corellia. For many years, his descendants ruled the Corellian planet and its surroundings. We also discover that Thrackan Sal-Solo, seen in the Corellian Trilogy and in several episodes of the New Jedi Order, is a member of his family.
Han Solo was orphaned at an early age. Having lost his father and been torn away from his mother under unclear circumstances, he found himself on the streets as a child. He was later raised by a notorious smuggler: Garris Shrike, captain of the ship Bonne Fortune. This helps us understand why he later chose this path too.
Garris Shrike is said to have found him on the streets of Corellia and brought him to his ship under the name of Tallus Bryn. On the latter, he was raised by an old Wookiee cook by the name of Dewlanna. But like many other children, the captain used him for dishonest purposes. This is how he learned the art of stealing, swindling and conning. It was also during this dark period of his life that Han learned to pilot racing machines. In fact, he was so gifted that, at just 17, he won the great Jubilar competition.
At 18, the Wookie cook who raised her discovers her true identity. With her help, Han decides to escape from the ship. This enabled him to reunite with members of his family, including his mother and cousin Thrackan. Unfortunately, his mother refuses all contact with him, claiming she wants to forget the past. He stays with his cousin for a while, but his cousin turns out to be cruel and ruthless. Han Solo decides not to stay at home for long either.
His early days as a smuggler
Left to his own devices, Han Solo decides to join the White Worm gang. Led by Lady Proxima, the group is made up of thieves and crooks. And like all members, he still had to steal, pilfer and swindle his way to shelter.
It was here that he met and fell in love with Q’ira. Both dream of leaving the gang. And when Han gets his hands on Coaxium, following an operation that didn’t go as planned, they seize the opportunity. Unfortunately, Lady Proxima catches up with them and they end up getting separated as they flee.
His enlistment in the Imperial Navy
Alone again, Han decides to realize his dream: to become a pilot. He therefore chose to enlist in the Imperial Navy. Having explained to recruiting officer Drawd Munbrin that he had no name or origin, Munbrin decided to name him Solo.
So he joined the Carida Academy, where he became Cadet 124-329. Although he’s a good pilot, his rebellious nature catches up with him. He multiplied his insubordination. With the aim of finding Q’ira, for example, he steals a TIE. He also did the same to save Tamu Dree and Beilert Valance after the Battle of Howlan, when he was part of Carida Squadron. Often caught red-handed and arrested for desertion, it was only thanks to the intervention of instructor Yurik Nakan – who had noticed his piloting skills – that he was able to remain in the Imperial Academy.
In fact, he had a successful career. Before being expelled for good, he became a TIE fighter and was promoted to lieutenant.
“Probably the best instinctive pilot I’ve ever taught, possessing an innate understanding of both piloting and battle tactics, which is infinitely rare.”
– Habadon Flight Instructor
From pilot to captain
Stubborn and insubordinate, Han Solo is finally expelled from the Academy. Now an infantryman, he joined Mimban’s 224th division. But once there, all he wanted to do was join bounty hunter Tobias Beckett’s team. Accused of attempted desertion, he finds himself back in prison. This is where he meets Chewbacca.
Later, they both meet Lando Calrissian, captain of the Millennium Falcon. The latter is unfortunately wounded in a raid gone wrong, and entrusts the command of his ship to Han Solo. The latter then achieved a feat: he completed the Kessel Raid in less than 12 parsecs. He then won the Millennium Falcon fair and square in a game of sabacc against his captain.
His personality and principles
Han Solo is a very controversial character, and that’s what makes him so appealing. Brave and courageous, he’s also cynical and arrogant. Throughout the saga, we see that he is particularly rebellious. With no tolerance for authority or domination, he has a marginal personality and stands out for his free spirit. In everything he does, he demonstrates a fierce determination to do as he pleases.
Raised by a smuggler, he is naturally motivated by the lure of gain. But he’s not a heartless man. He’s far from the lawless man he’d have us believe. On numerous occasions, he has proved that he can champion a cause if he feels it is right. Even at the risk of his own life, or at the expense of his promising career as an Empire pilot. In the majority of cases, his insubordinations start with a good intention: to save friends or people in need.
He was, however, unprincipled. Han Solo never believed in the existence of the Force. That’s why he was neither on the Light nor the Dark side. In fact, he says so himself in a line he addresses to Princess Leia in the fourth episode of Star Wars: A New Hope.
“I’m not part of your rebellion. I’m not a freedom fighter…“
Key events in his life
Versions of his encounter with Chewbacca differ:
- In the canon universe, they met after Han Solo was discharged from the Imperial Navy. The meeting is said to have taken place in a prison in Mimban, where the infantryman had been imprisoned for attempted desertion, sharing his cell with a Wookie nicknamed the Beast. But having been raised by a Wookie and therefore understanding a little shyriiwook, he made a friend of it. And it was together that they managed to escape from prison.
- In the Legends universe, the meeting took place while he was still a pilot. Working as a TIE fighter for Captain Pter Nyklas, Lieutenant Han Solo has once again disobeyed an order by choosing to free a Wookie slave. It was Chewbacca. The latter then becomes his co-pilot.
Meeting Luke Skywalker
For much of his youth, Han Solo seemed a complete stranger to the events of the Rebellion. In episode 4 of the saga, we discover that he met Luke Skywalker and his companion Obi-Wan Kenobi by chance.
In the year 0, the Millennium Falcon stops on Tatooine for a break. A stranger asks the captain if he can take two passengers with him and drop them off on the planet Alderaan, in return for exuberant remuneration. He accepts, but doesn’t understand that these are the few remaining Jedi knights until later.
Meeting Princess Leia
Han Solo’s meeting with Princess Leia was one of the biggest events in the smuggler’s life. It also takes place during Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Once they arrive at their destination, Alderaan, Han and his companions discover a planet completely destroyed. They soon discover the source of the carnage: the Death Star, on which Princess Leia Organa is also imprisoned. With his help, Luke Skywalker finally manages to free the princess and escape. But he pays a heavy price: Obi-Wan is killed in a deadly battle with his former apprentice Darth Vader.
As for Han Solo and Princess Leia, a simple exchange takes place between them before the group begins to flee from the Stormtroopers. But the captain of the Imperial Falcon soon falls under the young woman’s spell.
“What a girl! Either I tear her down, or I fall in love, it’s all one or the other.”
-Han Solo to Luke Skywalker.
His decision to join the Rebel Alliance
Despite the urging of his new friends: Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, Han Solo steadfastly refuses to champion their cause. Insisting on remaining neutral, he doesn’t accept their proposal to take sides and enter the conflict, once he’s brought back the princess and the Death Star plans to the rebels.
However, he still accepts a few missions entrusted to him either by Luke or directly by the rebels. Willy-nilly, he finds himself permanently enlisted in the cause when he goes to rescue his friend Luke on the ship Yavin IV.
In the sixth episode of The Saga: Return of the Jedi, he is promoted to the rank of General of the Rebel Alliance, alongside General Leia Organa. It was largely thanks to him that the Alliance was able to win the Battle of Endor, one of the greatest missions ever undertaken to destroy the Empire once and for all.
It’s hard to separate the character of Han Solo from that of Princess Leia. The attraction between the two seems obvious from their first meeting in the fourth opus: A New Hope. At the end of the episode, the smuggler confesses his feelings for the young woman to his friend Luke Skywalker.
However, it’s not until the end of the fifth episode that the two antagonists admit their feelings to each other. Even so, nothing was gained, as he was captured, frozen in a block of carbonite and delivered to Jabba the Hutt at the end of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
In the next opus, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, it’s Leia who comes to rescue Han Solo from Jabba’s carbonite hands. She strangles him to death. Shortly after the Battle of Endor, the two characters marry. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last. However, the reasons for this failure vary from one universe to another:
- In the Canon universe, Generals Solo and Leia give birth to a son whom they name Ben. They chose to entrust the latter’s education to Luke Skywalker, who was planning to restore the Jedi Order. Unfortunately, they later learn that their only son has turned to the dark side of the Force. Their relationship was shattered by the news.
- In the Legends universe, Han and Leia marry almost a decade after the Battle of Yavin. Together, they’ll have 3 children, including two twins – Jacen and Jaina – and a youngest, whom they’ve named Anakin. Everything goes smoothly until 25 AD, when Chewbacca is killed trying to save Anakin Solo from the Yuuzhan Vongs. The loss of his sidekick and best friend is unbearable for Han, who has resumed his bad habits. Now an alcoholic, he leaves his wife and becomes a smuggler again.
As you may have gathered, in both the canonical and non-canonical universes, Han Solo and Princess Leia end up going their separate ways. Some twenty years after their separation, the smuggler he has become once again finds his ship, which he lost on the planet Jakku several years earlier. On board, he meets up with the thieves, including BB-8, on whom he discovers a map leading to Luke Skywalker‘s hideout.
So he decides to communicate his plans to the Resistance, led by Leia. She tells him that their son Ben has become Kylo Ren, the supreme leader of the First Order.
Han Solo: death
It was in the seventh episode, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that Han Solo died. Having learned that his son was none other than the evil leader Kylo Ren, he set off on an expedition under General Organa’s orders to the planet Starkiller, in the company of Chewbacca and Finn. The aim of the mission: to destroy this base, which the First Order uses as a superweapon.
On the planet, he meets his son Ben, aka Kylo Ren. The latter explains his distress and asks for help. As he had promised Leia, Han Solo chose to give his son a chance by grabbing the saber he held out to him. But against all odds, he engages the gun and wounds his father. The latter then falls into the void. His body was never found, as the mission was a success. It resulted in the explosion of the Starkiller base.
Exploits in the Saga
A smuggler and mercenary, Han Solo’s many exploits have made him a hero of the Rebel Alliance and, later, of the New Republic. It has many merits:
- In Star Wars IV: A New Hope, the rescue of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.
- In Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker‘s rescue.
- In Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi, the destruction of the second Death Star ship during the Battle of Endor.
- In Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, the explosion of the Starkiller base.
- In Star Wars IX: Skywalker Ascends, Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren returns to the side of light.
The liberation of Kashyyyk is also due to the courage and intervention of the mythical smuggler. Note that this is Chewbacca’s home planet. It was under Imperial control when Han Solo and his co-pilot decided to free it. They succeed with the help of their friend Irma, who has gathered a number of mercenaries, smugglers and mercenaries to help them.