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Han Solo is the best sci-fi character ever. Here’s why

Even though he is in no way the main character, Han Solo may be the most important character in Star Wars canon. It’s precisely his regularness and his swagger that make him so compelling. As one of the most important characters in Star Wars, you can also make a pretty credible case that Han is the most important character in science fiction as a whole.

Few have had a more major influence on what science fiction has become, and even fewer are as pretty to look at as Harrison Ford. Here are five reasons Han Solo is the best sci-fi character ever:

1. He has a great partner

Chewbacca and Han Solo with their hands behind their heads in Star Wars The Force Awakens.

Any discussion of Han’s supremacy isn’t complete without acknowledging Chewbacca, one of the great partners in crime in the history of cinema. Chewbacca only speaks in sounds that no one but Han can understand, but that only makes their relationship all the more amusing.

Chewie towers over Han, but the two nonetheless treat one another as equals, and seem to argue about pretty much anything. Their relationship is like one between any close friends, which is why Chewie’s reaction may be the most difficult one to handle when Han ultimately dies.

2. Deep down, he really cares

Chewbacca and Han Solo aiming guns.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Han presents as a skeptic who doesn’t believe in the Jedi or in defeating the Empire. He’s fine with things the way they are. As we learn in the final moments of the very first film, though, Han is far more heroic than he lets on.

That remains true all the way through the Original Trilogy, as he proves again and again that he has a much stronger moral compass than he may initially appear to. Han is one of the great criminals with a heart of gold. He may be a scoundrel, but that doesn’t mean he’s apathetic.

3. Very little seems to surprise him

han solo in star wars a new hope
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With the exception of a discovery that one of his oldest friends sold him out to the Empire, Han is generally pretty hard to shock. He discovers that the Force is real, but just continues on with his day as if nothing had changed. In that way, Han is almost open to the mysteries of the universe and what they may reveal.

Perhaps the ultimate example of this comes when Leia tells him that he loves him, and Han responds with that immoral line of dialogue: “I know.” It’s a wonderful, instantly iconic exchange that speaks both to Han’s tremendous ego and his understanding of the way people work.

4. He’s got a great sense of humor

Star Wars The Force Awakens

Han is funny in a way that basically no other character in the original trilogy (with the exception of Leia). He cracks wise in a way that constantly reminds everyone in the audience that, in spite of the Force and the Sith lords and the lightsabers, this is all still just a movie.

It doesn’t have to be worshipped, even if it is real inside of this universe. Instead, it can be lightly made fun of. Han is perfect because he manages to crack these jokes without undercutting the stakes of the story. He’s funny, not so unserious that you stop caring about everything else.

5. He’s just a regular guy

Image used with permission by copyright holder

One of the smartest things about the original Star Wars is that, while Luke and Obi-Wan are deeply enmeshed in questions of mysticism, Han remains a skeptic. He’s just a normal guy in this world — a petty smuggler who has been hired for what he thinks is a pretty straightforward job.

Of course, things get complicated for him from there, but Han is crucial to grounding this entire story. It may be Luke’s destiny to take on the Empire, but it definitely isn’t Han’s. He’s just some guy who happens to be a pretty decent pilot and turns out to believe in what the rebellion is fighting for.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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