*MAJOR SPOILERS for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'*
So in case you haven't heard yet, there's a new Star Wars film out and it's kind of a big deal. From smashing box office records to become the first film EVER to gross more than $800 million domestically to getting almost universally positive reviews across the board, the future looks bright for the next umpteen films set in that galaxy far, far away.
And of course with this popular territory come the fan theories, especially as some fans struggle to come to terms with the tragic death of original trilogy fan favorite, the charismatic smuggler-turned-resistance hero Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
Chewie's Flying Solo Now
Solo fell at the hands of his son, formerly Ben Solo but now known and feared throughout the universe as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) of the First Order. Pleading with his child to come home, he couldn't permeate the Darkness that lived within Kylo, and got a lightsaber through the chest as payment.
Kylo Ren: "It's too late."
Han Solo: "No, it's not. Leave here with me. Come home. We miss you."
Kylo Ren: "I'm being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?"
Han Solo: "Yes. Anything."
We're not crying, you're crying. Shut up.
As the Internet is wont to do in times of fictional crises theories start to emerge left right and center that Solo's not dead, he's just sleeping / on vacation / going to return as Han Solo the White (we're holding out for the latter option).
It's a tough pill to swallow, we know, to admit that everyone's favorite smuggler is dead and gone. So how likely is it that he'll actually return to the Star Wars universe? Well...
The Casting Call That Launched A Thousand Theories
A casting call on MovieCastingCall.org surfaced recently and set speculation alight again, because it mentions Harrison Ford appearing in [Star Wars: Episode VIII](tag:711868) as Han Solo. That's right, do not adjust your screens.
Here's the official line from the casting call:
Returning to reprise their roles in 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' is Golden Globe Award nominee Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron; Daisy Ridley as Rey; Black Reel Awards nominee John Boyega as Finn; Academy Award nominee Harrison Ford as Han Solo; two-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee Carrie Fisher as Leia; three-time Screen Actors Guild Awards nominee Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma; and BAFTA Award winner Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.
Han's Coming Back?
Well, it doesn't seem likely, does it? Not only did he get impaled through the chest with the business end of Kylo's lightsaber, but he then fell into the Starkiller core. Which then blew up, just for good measure.
And it's not just the physical hinderances but also the fact that killing off one of the three from the original trilogy is a big move, one that smacks of finality.
Star Wars gave us the archetypal uncovering of family ties which has since become a well used staple of mainstream storytelling, but they've never been one for bringing back dead characters (in the cinematic universe anyway, the EU is another story altogether).
There is of course an option of using Han Solo in a flashback scene; perhaps one exploring Kylo Ren's origins as Ben Solo and the turmoil which led him to attempt to embrace the Dark Side under Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).
It would also give fans a larger insight into the relationship between Han and General Leia (Carrie Fisher). Now that the Extended Universe has been non-canonized we don't really know a whole lot about what happened with the two lovers between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
We know that the loss of their son to the Dark Side forced the two apart, but there's still a lot of room to expand narratively there (and anything that gives us more Leia is very welcome).
But, like with bringing back dead characters, a flashback isn't really a formulaic device typically used in the Star Wars films. But hey — it's a new generation so you never know.
I Wouldn't Get Too Excited Though...
Most likely this is a false flag. There's no date on the casting call, so it could be that it was written prior to or shortly after the release of The Force Awakens. Including Harrison Ford on the cast list could've been an intentional means of trying not to spoil the fact that his character dies.
And as ScreenRant point out some of the other information on the casting call seems to be inaccurate; for example it mentions that English actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw would be involved with Star Wars: Episode 8.
This was reported prior to the release of The Force Awakens, but it now looks like Mbatha-Raw may be replaced by British actress Bel Powley. Which again suggests that the inclusion of Ford was to keep the news of Han Solo's death contained.
Finally (and this is a very recent update) the casting call might not even be genuine. A Tweet from Twitter account @daisyridleyfan emerged last night calling the casting call "a fake" and citing so called "sources" from Lucasfilm:
"movie casting call is a fake site! Many people who work for Lucasfilm have confirmed its not legit"
However, the Tweet has since been deleted and the Twitter account itself is an unofficial fan-run account so it doesn't really clarify much at all. Damn you internet, you fickle mistress.
Harrison Ford Is Done Playing Han
But there's even more evidence that we're not gonna see Harrison Ford returning as Han Solo for Star Wars: Episode 8, mainly because Ford seems happy to draw a permanent line under his Solo-ing at this juncture.
Add to that the fact that he himself wanted Solo to be killed off even before The Force Awakens, and it's not looking good for the enigmatic smuggler:
"I thought the best utility of [Han Solo] would be for him to sacrifice himself to a high ideal and give a little bottom, a little gravitas to the enterprise, not that there wasn’t some already but I just wanted in on some part of it. That was at the third occasion of filming the original three."
So, despite rumors it does look like The Force Awakens will have been Han Solo's last run in the iconic Millennium Falcon. At least we've got the as-of-yet untitled Han Solo Movie, set to release in 2018 (albeit without Ford himself it seems).
Well played Solo; we'll miss you, you scruffy-looking Nerf herder.