|Relationships:||Leia Organa (love interest, wife); Ben Solo (son); Chewbacca and Luke Skywalker (pals)|
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Han Solo is a character in Star Wars. He is the pilot, a smuggler, whom Obi-Wan and Luke hire in their escape from Tatooine. First portrayed as somewhat morally ambiguous, Han ends up becoming a major force in the fight against the Empire.
Before Indiana Jones...A fan in late 1979 (before the Indiana Jones franchise began) expressed her worry that Harrison Ford was being typecast:
...the most disturbing subject of Han Solo's death in TESB, I think we "Hanatics" must be realistic and lay the "blame" for this catastrophe squarely at the feet of our own beloved idol! No producer, director or screen writer would dare to tamper so seriously and drastically with a commercial Juggernaut like STAR WARS with "grave cause" and I'm convinced that this "cause" is Harrison's own attitude toward continuing to play Han Solo!
In some interviews I have read and seen of him, Harrison has been emphatically candid in saying that although he is sincerely grateful to George Lucas' miracle film for opening the door to starring opportunities for him, at the same time he seems to have an aversion to being "typecast" as Han Solo.
His feelings are understandable when one looks at actors like Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) and the way in which his total "Mr. Spock" identification subsequently destroyed his chances of being acceptable by the public in more varied and substantiative film roles, and I too agree that typecasting.
No one loves Harrison Ford more than I, nor rejoices in his "late-blooming" success after so many years of career frustration and obscurity. But at the same time I feel that it is already too late for him to try to disassociate himself from the role that "made" him and I think he is deluding himself if he thinks he will soon escape the STAR WARS identification.
In my opinion, the most the he can now realistically hope for is a career similar to that of Sean Connery. As you know, Connery also experienced the (highly lucrative) anguish of being typecast as James Bond for years, but has recently been able to make a genteel transition to other roles that are basically character parts.
I base these conclusions on careful observation of the three major roles that Harrison has played since the release of STAR WARS... In each of these films he has portrayed one or the other of the dual persona of Han Solo, i.e. the Flyer/Cowboy. I don't think it can be denied that one almost gets a feeling of "deja vu" in watching these films. The mannerisms may be Harrison's but the characters seem only to be subtle variations on Han! Now it may be that Harrison accepted these roles just because of the similarities to Han and he and his managers are shrewdly playing on his image, knowing that he has contracted to do at least one STAR WARS sequel.This thought seems a little cynical... What do you think? 
Between the original trilogy and the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, Han and Leia get married. They had a son, Ben Solo. After Ben turned to the Dark Side, taking the name Kylo Ren, the betrayal drives Han and Leia apart. Han returned to smuggling alongside Chewbacca. In The Force Awakens, Han and Leia reunite after being estranged for years.
Han Solo in Fanon
A fan wrote that she definitely sees Han as a pirate, as (she says) does George Lucas, and brings up what may be the first "Han Shot First" statement:
Han shoots Greedo from under he table and the novel pression that this was not the first time Solo had used that bit of strategy. Okay, it could be said Greedo got what he deserved, but who's to say, (other than G.L.) that Han doesn't deserve the same? It certainly didn't seem to bother him that he had ended someone's life. His attitude was more one of "all in a day's work." One of my constant grievances is the polishing up of Solo's character in fanfiction. Not by everyone, let me add before folks start jumping on soapboxes (right now I'm on it and it could get pretty crowded), but by some. Why is it some of you cannot accept that Han might not be a goody-two-shoes? Does someone have to be perfect to be accepted? Must their morals and ethics always agree with the fan's own? Do all their motives have on board? 
A fan wrote of Han's appeal:
To the majority of Star Wars fans, and especially... the group known as "Hanatics," Han Solo is attractive to women. Most accept and appreciate him as a good looking male who blatantly struts his sexuality in a manner to be admired. What is the nature of this attraction, the lazy crooked smile, the swagger, the lean body and slightly battered good looks? Perhaps: they certainly help, but I believe there is more to his appear than physical attraction. Han is the alter ego of everyone tied to conventional duties and responsibilities. He's a rambler and a gambler with his life as the stake, freer than any of us. When things get tight he can raise ship, make the jump to light speed and be across the galaxy in the wink of an eye. Sure, he's in debt and has seen his share of hard times, but you get the feeling he's chosen to live on the edge and doesn't regret it for a moment. With danger nipping at his heels, he seems vital, alive, and able to make the best of any situation. The fact that he is also a bit of a rascal only adds to the attraction.... Han Solo has made dozens of whimsical scribblers scrabble to their typewriters to pound out information about him. When Star Wars ended there were so many questions left unanswered about him that entire universes have been founded to answer them. Since variety is the spice of life in fandom, seldom do any two answers agree. 
I've yet to read a story where Han is portrayed as inexperienced at love making, even though we all know he had to start sometime. He is usually depicted as an almost ideal partner, skilled, considerate, seeking his partner's sexual pleasure as well as his own. Even if the encounter is just good fun, there always seems to be an element of caring that causes even jaded prostitutes to gaze wistfully after him. And Han does seem to know a lot of fallen angels! True to the spacer's tradition he has a lady or three in every downport in the galaxy. They don't spend their lives waiting for the Falcon to dock, but when she's landed they are guaranteed a good, loving time. He is usually monogamous, but can be polygamous as, for example, in The Thousandworlds Chronicles where Corellians consider it strange to have only one partner at a time. Nor is Han concerned about the nationality or ethnicity of his partner; human and alien are alike to him. It's pleasure that counts. 
Han usually gets his comeuppance:
This aspect of seeing through the swaggering cynicism of Han's exterior runs through many fan stories. Few are the heroines who leave his attitudes unchallenged with the result of forcing the Corellian into some much needed self examination. Relationships that begin as antagonistic, as with Cori Beckett or Leia Organa, usually conclude with Han dropping the chauvinistic pose to become friend or helper. In several tales he helps a woman achieve independence by teaching her a skill, usually piloting or smuggling. Though he arranges a monetary reward for his assistance, his motivation is obvious. He is much nicer than he wants to admit. 
This fan likes Han just the way he is:
I love Han Solo. I love him as a pirate, a smuggler, in love with Leia and struggling to resolve his own character conflicts as a somewhat neutral party in the war. I feel no need for him to be a Jedi or a general in the Alliance, because it's just not him. He has his own innate intuition which works well enough for him. 
Han Solo as "The Other"
Han is chosen by Obi-Wan even over Luke's protestations. Why? Did the Jedl Master sense something in the Corellian? is Kenobi as much at the mercy of destiny as the rest of the characters? (Lucas has told us that Luke is but a pawn in events that had their origin before his birth.) Was it fate that Solo was in that particular cantina at that particular time and in need of money for a debt to Jabba the Hut? The radio show, bad though it may have been at times, makes it quite clear that Ben was looking for someone quite specific. Why Solo?" The author notes that he also understands Chewbacca, and that true heroes can translate the language of animals and magical beings. 
What about Han? Well, it can't be him. He doesn't have the Force. 
Han Solo as an OutsiderA fan in 1984 expresses her opinion that Han, and Lando, were both needed as outsiders:
I cannot stress the importance of Lando's and Han's roles as "outsiders" (and the disastrous decision to make them conforming Alliance members in Jedi). Those fans who condemned Lando in Empire were not only guilty of insensitivity to his dilemma, but also demonstrated overzealous, unexamined Alliance patriotism. This is why I value Han's original role because he provided us with a point of view different from the simplistic "pro-Alliance/anti-Empire" position (or vice-versa). Fans who want Han to be a Jedi ruin his character potential in this respect. Han represents all those individuals throughout the galaxy who prefer to stay out of politics, who are understandably suspicious of some rebel group who promises a government better than the Empire. Didn't Palpatine make the same promises? Han is much more interesting as a Force-blind, nonconforming individualist with conflicting commitments. Some of the dullest hours I've spent have been reading Han-as-Jedi stories. They simply aren't convincing, and do not portray Han as we know him in the films. Han's role in the saga was never meant to be a Jedi, I think that's rather obvious. Fans can rewrite Lucas' script all they want, but I'd rather deal with the facts given us. Someone ought to write an analysis about this obsession about Han-as-Jedi. I don't understand why these people feel he's not a viable, fascinating character without being one, why he has to be like Luke to be accepted. 
The Luke and Han War
While fans often have a favorite character or pairing, Star Wars is a fandom that included fans who took it to an extreme, and often an acrimonious one.
The letterzines were full of fans lauding Luke Skywalker over Han Solo or the other way around. This, in turn, increased the heat to support the favorite characters. Letters became very angry and inflamed, often with people saying they would refuse to have further communication with other people over this matter. The editor and some readers would frequently step in and ask folks to calm down.
What was the Great Church of Ford/Cathedral of Luke controversy? Why/how did it start? -- It came out after a fierce debate arose in SW fandom between a group of fans, who were rabidly devoted to Harrison Ford and thought Han was the real hero of the trilogy and that Luke had fallen to the Dark, and another group of fans who were just as passionately putting forth Luke Skywalker's cause. It descended rapidly into full-scale war and turned very ugly. SW fandom is still suffering the repercussions of it. Let's leave it dead and buried - where it belongs!") 
...the discussion quickly began to sound like a religious war of a certain kind, one which assumes that if you are not OF the godly, you must be AGAINST the godly. In private conversations, some fans began to talk about the "Church of Ford." I know that when I first heard the term, I thought it appropriate. It's known followers were absolute in their beliefs and swift and fierce in their attacks on those who did not accept the faith or who questioned the dogma. Unfortunately, the appellation only inspired the Ford faithful to claim that their efforts were necessary to defend Han’s reputation against the “Cathedral of Luke. 
Return of the Jedi had debuted just a few months earlier and there was a hot and heavy debate raging in fandom primarily between two groups of fans, one of which was made up of ardent Harrison Ford/Han Solo supporters and the other of which felt just as strongly about Mark Hamill/Luke Skywalker. It became known as the Church of Ford/Cathedral of Luke War... The whole incident came about because, between TESB and ROTJ, a lot of fans had decided exactly how the story should end, who 'The Other' was, whether the Empire would fall or not, etc. When ROTJ didn't follow their plotlines exactly, they reacted by protesting loudly and vociferously. 
- Moon Silver was an underground Star Wars het story by Jane Firmstone. It was the story sent to Maureen Garrett and LucasFilm that set their antennas twitching about the possibility that fans were writing stories in a less than "wholesome" vein. It was the first step in the chain of events that led to Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett
- Slow Boat to Bespin 1: "as it could have happened" - Anne Elizabeth Zeek (Star Wars) (R-rated Han/Leia first time story published in Guardian #3. It led to much wank.
- The True Force is a 4-page Star Wars story written by Eva Albertsson. In it Darth Vader sexually and sadistically tortures Han Solo. This story appears in the Swedish zine, The Dark Lord.
- fiction tagged with Han Solo at Archive of Our Own
- The Hero's Hero is an examination of Han Solo's character
- Han Solo: Lady's Man for All Seasons is an essay about Han's relationship with women
interior art from A Tremor in the Force #3 by Dianna Smith
Links & Resources
- from a letter of comment in Solo (1979)
- from Jundland Wastes #11
- from Han Solo: Lady's Man for All Seasons
- see Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett
- from Han Solo: Lady's Man for All Seasons
- from Han Solo: Lady's Man for All Seasons
- from Scoundrel #3
- from Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?
- from Scoundrel #2
- from Sandra H. Necchi in Scoundrel #3
- from a 1995 letter to Southern Enclave #43
- from Maggie Nowakowska's 38-page history of Jundland Wastes
- from an editorial in the 50th edition of Southern Enclave (Autumn 1998)