Han Solo: Epic Hero, Flawed Man

Happy Valentine's Day!

On this day dedicated to love of all forms and varieties, what better to ponder than that illusive ideal of 'hero'? My friend Jessica and I have been going back and forth about heroes, particularly those great heroes of film and literature that we all love to adore. From this, she had the brilliant idea to create a 'series' of sorts, wherein we, with the additional insight of Nancy, look at these heroes. Why are they heroes? Why do we love them? What do they mean to us individually? What do they represent to us as a generation? We all agree that we are a generation in need of a Hero -- and how better to find a hero than to become better acquainted with those we use as standards. And so ... This Valentine's Day, I shall spend some quality time with Han Solo: Epic Hero, Flawed Man.

I was introduced to the amazingness of Star Wars 'late' in life - it was my freshman year of college, and there was a blizzard on the way. Mum told me to check out a stash of movies, and started rattling off these titles I'd heard mentioned but never seen. So, I grabbed A New Hope, and fell in love. Since then, I have watched the trilogy (original movies, Episodes IV-VI only, thanks), at least once a year, and fall ever more in love with Han Solo. My friends tease me about it, saying it's really young Harrison Ford I'm in love with (pointing out that I also swoon over Indiana Jones). But it's Solo, not Ford. I mean, think about it. On the most basic and elementary level, how can you not fall in love with the man who has a 7-foot-tall Wookie as best bud and back-up (and who shoots a mean crossbow), all while piloting a sweet little cookie of a ship that just happens to be the fastest in the galaxy? Be still my heart ...

... There's more to Han's hero-status than the 'package' he comes with however. Han is real. As a man? He's tremendously flawed. He's a bad boy - trouble - a smuggler with a bounty on his head and a whole herd of strange creatures hunting him down. He's proud and arrogant, and more than a little smart-mouthed at times. He's makes no effort to hide that he's joined the adventure in A New Hope solely for the money. At first, you wouldn't think he has a heart or is capable of any feeling other than saving his own skin - excepting of course Chewie and the Falcon. So why on earth is he heroic? Because he changes. Or rather, the rough outer layers peel back and you can see the Man behind the exterior.

All the qualities (or lack thereof) that make Han the bad boy smuggler also make him the epic hero: He's stubbornly dedicated once he sets his mind (or heart?) on something. He speaks his mind, he doesn't hold back. What you see is what you get - there's not really a looming mystery about him. Once he starts to 'open up' and break away from the bad boy persona he's embraced for ages, there's a sense of loyalty and justice, courage and leadership. He's still a little rough-and-tumble, he's not got polished grace or banquet manners, but he's real.

Han sums up himself as hero the best, talking to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back:
"You like me because I'm a scoundrel."
It's the scoundrel, flawed man who both knows his weaknesses and strives to better his strengths that makes Han so epic ... He doesn't change, not at heart, so it's not one of those "find a bad boy and make him an angel"-type things. It's a "I make you think I'm a bad boy, because I've not found someone - or something - to make me believe myself a hero"-type thing. And that, my friends, is why I love Han. He's far from perfect, he makes some pretty stupid decisions/statements at times, but he is what and who he is. (And the sweet ship helps too).

For more Valentine's reading: Jessica's covering Superman and Nancy is featuring Darcy! Eek! Such an abundance of heroism on this Love Day!


  1. "There aren't enough scoundrels in your life."

    Precisely, Han. Precisely. So if you wouldn't mind being my scoundrel...?

  2. Rebecca, great post . . . I loooove Han . . . and you are right, he is totally "what and who he is."

    I think we may have come up with a cohesive theme today without even trying!!!!

  3. Nancy: I know, right?! Oh heck yes, Han, I need a scoundrel ... hehe

    Jess: Yeah, it does seem as though we managed to work together very well. Is that because we exist in triplicate? ;o)

  4. Ha, I love this. Han Solo was the perfect hero to pick, especially for Valentine's Day. Really great post!

  5. JR: Thanks! I loved getting to spend some quality time with my scoundrel of a sweetheart this Love Day :o)