Has there ever been a movie character more discussed as an, at least hypothetical, archetype than Han Solo? Now, never really in any sort of successful way, which is why it’s so fascinating that people keep trying. Yet, filmmakers do keep trying. One of the more recent examples is Stinger Apini, Sean Bean’s character in Jupiter Ascending, who is described as a “Han Solo-type character.” I have a hard time believing we will ever read the sentence, “Sean Bean to reprise his role as Stinger Apini,” or, “Stinger Apini spinoff movie.”
To be fair to Mr. Apini, the words “Han Solo-type character” may not have come directly from the Wachowskis, but someone had to feed Deadline that description.
Here’s what’s most interesting about the character of Han Solo: He’s not that deep of a character and certainly isn’t near the first “scoundrel with a heart of gold.” Yet, Solo remains one of the best characters in the era of the modern blockbuster and a strong argument can be made that he’s the reason Star Wars is still successful today.
To prove that point, just look how poorly regarded the three Star Wars movies are without Solo. Most honest critiques of the three prequels usually start with, “It’s missing a Han Solo-type character.” The thing is, the prequels tried to have a “Han Solo-type character.” Obi Wan got a lot more wise-cracking in Attack of the Clones. Anakin even delivers Solo’s line, “Here’s where the fun begins,” in Revenge of the Sith, but tacking on some attributions does not make a Han Solo. Even George Lucas forgot how to create a Han Solo-type character. This is because the actual Han Solo is a happy accident that no one will ever be able to recreate in a moviemaking laboratory. (George Lucas’ greatest 21st century gift to society was leaving young Han Solo out of Revenge of the Sith. Yes, this was actually planned at one point.)
Harrison Ford was never supposed to be Han Solo. In fact, Han Solo was supposed to look like this thing:
Then, after George Lucas decided that Solo should more resemble a human being, Lucas actively wanted anyone but Ford, citing a hesitation to work with the same actors, at least at the time. Because Ford had been in American Graffiti, he was seemingly disqualified. Ford eventually got the part because he happened to be doing some carpentry work at Lucas’ house and was asked to sit in on some readings while other actors auditioned. Again, it was a happy accident.