It's been more than two months, but we're all still reeling from [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158)'s biggest twist: the death of fan favorite Han Solo. At the gloves of his son, no less! Killing such a long-revered character was definitely a bold move on the part of director J.J. Abrams, but as he explains to Fandango, this was crucial to the story and for setting Kylo Ren up as the saga's new villain.
But what did Harrison Ford think of this? After all, he is the one who brought the adored figure of Han Solo to life.
To Kill A Hero
Well, as Abrams reveals, Ford was actually totally OK with it:
"He understood why it was so powerful. And I think part of it was because Harrison himself -- Han, the character -- has so much ahead of him. Has so much life and fight and adventure -- that this was the time to do that thing. If we felt like the character was sort of at the end of his days, it wouldn't have been as powerful. The thing that made it potentially meaningful wasn't just who does it and how it happened, but that it's a character that is so vital that is meeting his demise."
Basically, it was crucial for Han to die during one of his adventures, with the rest of his life still to be lived. Ouch.
Of course Ford was OK with this. He actually wanted Han Solo to die way back in Return Of The Jedi, and told EW:
"I thought it would be fascinating to have him die and give the movie some emotional bottom. It wasn’t a heroic arc so much that I was interested in but giving the film some emotional strength."
In The Force Awakens Ford got his wish: Han Solo dying in order to give the film an emotional gut punch.
But it was so much more than just a shock-value death, and whether Ford wanted it or not, Han Solo got his heroic arc after all.
Building A Villain
Han Solo is so loved, and if his role in Episode VII proved nothing else, it's that Solo had a lot of fight left in him. As he guides our young heroes Rey and Finn through their new journey, we're reintroduced to an older, wiser, but no less badass Solo. Which is why his death was all the more painful.
But there's more to Han Solo's death than just creating angst for Rey and Finn: Abrams needed Solo to die so that audiences would have a reason to hate Kylo Ren:
"Harrison's always said that Han needed to have clear utility. That's why he argued back that Han should die and George Lucas didn't want to do it. But in this case there was such a clear utility -- it's about bringing this new villain to the fore, and there's nothing I could think of that is more hideous than patricide, especially when it comes to Han Solo."
Abrams has spoken previously about how Star Wars VII wasn't supposed to present us with a ready-made villain in the form of Kylo Ren. Instead, The Force Awakens was meant to be Ren's villainous origin story. It all comes down to that one act: Killing Han Solo is an inversion of Luke Skywalker saving Darth Vader at the end of Return Of The Jedi. It's brutal and painful and totally vital for us to see Kylo Ren as a truly evil villain.
So where do we go from here? It's difficult to tell whether Kylo Ren will be redeemed, or whether the guilt of killing his father will drive him further into the Dark Side. And he does feel guilty, as the script and novel proved. For now all we can do is rest assured that at least our hero Han Solo died trying to save his son, and that's probably the most noble way he could have gone.