I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story twenty times during its theatrical run. Yes, 20 times. I wasn't even particularly excited about Solo, but it ended up being important to me and my fandom. That, as much as the film itself, took me by surprise. Oddly enough, without a clearly defined reason, my fandom had waned in recent years. I wish I could point to one thing, but I can’t. Fatigue? Internet drama? I don’t know. I greatly enjoyed The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and (yes) The Last Jedi. I saw each five times theatrically. But somehow, the particular excitement I'd always known before was missing.
Solo changed that. It lit a fire in me. Suddenly I wanted to live and breathe Star Wars again, soak in all the joy I first experienced as a child in 1977. It also made me feel for a character I never seriously considered before. Han Solo.
Scratching the surface, here are 20 reasons why I saw Solo 20 times:
(Keep in mind, there are hundreds of reasons I saw Solo 20 times.)
He’s my Han Solo.
Alden’s performance did something 40+ years of Star Wars fandom — or even Harrison Ford himself — couldn’t. He made care about Han Solo. There’s real value in that. A whole new aspect of something I’d known forever was opened to me. I never thought I’d count Han as one of my favorite characters, but here I am, doing just that. I'm connected now, and able to fully appreciate a character who was before me this entire time.
…And I'm able to honestly mourn him.
Alden is a revelation, and he deserves the world for what he accomplished, both through his courage at taking on this iconic role, and his intelligence in making the role his own — While maintaining the vital essence of the character.
To quote Harrison Ford (re: Alden):
I just thought it was spectacular. And I thought he was so smart about what he did and how he did it. I just couldn’t be happier.
Han Solo's word on Han Solo should be final.
That first spark in the darkness… Han's breathless pleas as he hotwires a speeder, his lucky dice, and Solo, sparking and spritzing onto the screen — It's the start of my favorite opening sequence ever. Everything on Corellia is gold.
On these mean streets, a young man fights for survival, but yearns to fly among the stars…
Corellia and the Chase
Dank, smelling of the sea and industry, there’s an inherent beauty in Corellia that caught my imagination like no other world. I want more.
The speeder chase through Corellia is the most exhilarating sequence in all of Star Wars for me. The frenetic pacing, the desperation to escape, the accompanying score by John Powell. It all works.
Is there anything more stylish, or beautiful?
Mudtroopers of Mimban
I know people are really into the various troopers, but that was never me… Till Mudtroopers. I get it now.
More complex than he appears, perhaps fighting against his true nature. Is that what he sees when he looks at Han — What he could have been? The good guy?
And Woody Harrelson is always amazing to watch.
Chewbacca. Enslaved, harassed, starved… but retaining his dignity throughout. No being is more honorable than this great Wookiee.
Then he meets this strange human, with his “plan of break out” and “secret battle of pretend…”
You tired, you mangy Kashyyykian moof-milker?
A late addition to the production (according to Alden), this scene telegraphs the bond Han and Chewie would share from the start — even if they weren’t aware it yet.
Years of fighting to get back to her, to rescue her, and suddenly Qi'ra is before him. Changed, but he doesn't see that. His face lights up, his heart overflows… He thinks he has her back, and everything will be right again. But it can't happen, and she knows. You see it every time she looks at him, at times regretful and sad.
Nothing encapsulates the magic of Solo more for me than the look on Han’s face when the Falcon hits lightspeed for the first time. The eyes wide with wonder, the familiar grin… That keeps me coming back. That moment is my lifeblood.
“What are they clipping?”
This never fails to get a laugh from me. And the fact no one answers him…
Coming into the production late, Paul Bettany stepped right up and created a truly menacing villain. Suave, handsome, and deadly dangerous. No one gets past Dryden Vos, except…
Smart, beautiful, capable, and determined to survive. Qi'ra saved Han Solo. There was no real betrayal. She saved him from Dryden, and she saved him from Maul by keeping his involvement secret. She sacrificed a future with him, so he could have a future of his own. She saved him from herself and her situation.
I sometimes wonder if she kept tabs on Han over the years…
Better than a Life Debt
One thing I love about Solo is the way Chewie regards Han at different moments. You catch him observing this odd human he’s thrown in with — Someone who tries to present himself as one thing, but is really the opposite.
On Kessel, Chewie is free to leave with his kin — But stays with Han. On Savareen, he could have left, mission accomplished. But he stays with Han. He chooses Han. For all Han’s bluster and foibles, Chewie sees what Qi’ra saw….The good guy. And he casts his lot in with Han, for whatever their future would hold. I love that so much more than the concept of a life debt.
They saved each other. They need each other.
Han Customizes the Falcon
Lando lovingly looked after the Millennium Falcon for years. She was pristine, state of the art, and tailored to his impeccably refined tastes.
Han Solo destroys all that in roughly 12 parsecs.
“My pal, Needles”
Classic Han, pulling a stunt that killed his buddy — but he’s confident it’ll work for him. And it does, against all odds. Which you never tell him about, BTW.
“Not if you round down, buddy.”
So, it wasn’t really 12 parsecs? How much over are we talking here?
Han Shoots First
Fatally shooting his mentor, in defense of his own life, Han rushes to Beckett’s side and holds him as he dies. It's a gesture of real affection, even in light of Beckett’s betrayal. It shows Han's heart.
He is the good guy.
Coaxium Comes Around
Han comes full-circle, with a vial of coaxium. His hopes for freedom hinged on a vial at the beginning of the film, and they come to fruition at the end, as Han uses the coaxium as a buy-in to a game of Sabacc. All to win the love of his life — The Millennium Falcon.
“Fair and Square, baby. Fair and square.”
No comment, just THIS…
With Solo coming home, my sincere hope is this wonderful film be given the fair treatment it never received — but deserved — in theaters. I would love for people to put aside their preconceived notions, dismiss the naysaying, and just enjoy Solo for what it is — A film brimming with heart, soul, humor, adventure, scoundrels, and heroes.
Pure Star Wars.
Thank you to Ron Howard, the Kasdans, the cast and crew — everyone — for creating what has become my favorite Star Wars film. From inauspicious beginnings, to holding a treasured place in my heart, Solo is everything I didn’t know I wanted… Or needed. Now I can't envision my life without it.
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