Welcome to The StarWars.com 10, a feature where StarWars.com’s editorial staff huddles to discuss — in a committee — various topics relating to a galaxy far, far away. Today we’re looking at the top moments between a certain scoundrel and princess.
“You think a princess and a guy like me…?” So asked Han Solo to Luke Skywalker after his first meeting with the strong-willed, sharp-shooting princess, in a question that kick-started one of cinema’s great romances. The Han and Leia dynamic instantly struck a chord with audiences, as it recalled the “I can’t stand you/I love you” romances of ’40s Hollywood, but it became something more. Han was handsome, Leia was stunning, yet their relationship felt real. They bickered, they flirted, and when they finally gave in to their feelings, it was honest and genuine. We wanted them to be together, and they were perfect for each other — today, they truly are sci-fi’s First Couple. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the StarWars.com team looks at Han and Leia’s finest moments together, from the funny to the heartbreaking, in the Star Wars films.
10. Ewok Village Argument, Return of the Jedi
Couples, no matter how in love, can be genuinely hurtful towards each other. Audiences hadn’t seen that aspect of Han and Leia’s relationship until this short but important scene, which finds Han losing his patience when Leia refuses to tell him what’s bothering her. “Could you tell Luke? Is that who you could tell?” Han angrily says. He begins to storm away, but realizes he hurt her and comes back to embrace Leia. It’s a pretty beautiful — and real — moment.
9. Medal Ceremony, A New Hope
It’s brief, but the smile Leia gives Han and the wink he shoots in return perfectly encapsulate their attraction and bond. It’s a flirty and fun moment, showing that despite their initial bickering on the Death Star, there’s something there.
8. Detention Rescue, A New Hope
“This is some rescue!” “No reward is worth this!” The constant digs Han and Leia take at each other during her rescue on the Death Star work on so many levels: character development, comic relief, romance, and more. We see that Leia is no damsel in distress and that Han probably likes that. Their attraction is apparent, and it’s clear they’ll fall in love — if they don’t kill each other first.
7. My Brother, Return of the Jedi
As the Death Star explodes above Endor and Han assures Leia that Luke survived, she says she knows. “I can feel it.” Han interprets that to mean she loves him, and agrees to back off. When Leia tells him that yes, she loves him, but it’s because he’s her brother, the look on Han’s face is priceless — he’s confused, relieved, and ultimately, it all clicks. It’s another nice wrinkle to their journey as a couple, and a key sequence.
6. Nerf Herder, The Empire Strikes Back
One of Leia’s choicest barbs ever slung at Han: “Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder!” It’s a great response to Han’s pig-headed bravado, and has become a pop culture mainstay — there’s even a band called Nerf Herder. Leia spikes the football, too, passionately kissing Luke right in front of said nerd herder.
5. I Love You/I Know (Endor), Return of the Jedi
A callback to their classic exchange in The Empire Strikes Back, but reversed to great effect. Han, worried that Leia is injured, is relieved when she’s okay — and finally utters the words, “I love you,” when she reveals she has a blaster. The princess replies, “I know,” before shooting two Stormtroopers. Only in Star Wars.
4. Hoth Fight, The Empire Strikes Back
There’s great tension to the scenes between Han and Leia on Hoth. Han is trying to leave the Rebellion to finally pay off Jabba the Hutt, and Leia wants him to stay for reasons she can’t admit. It’s not all sniping; there are lots of longing stares and distant body language. But it finally boils over as Leia follows Han throughout Echo Base, and he calls her on it.
3. Carbon Freeze Rescue, Return of the Jedi
If anyone should unfreeze Han from carbonite, it’s Leia. Undercover in Jabba’s Palace, she risks everything to free him, and their reunion is a nice bookend to the tragedy of their last meeting. But then, it’s interrupted by that laugh…
2. The Kiss, The Empire Strikes Back
After everything they’ve been through, and all the back and forth, there’s finally a moment where Leia lets her guard down and Han relaxes. Han and Leia’s first kiss, aboard the Millennium Falcon, is the perfect culmination of their dynamic up until that point. He’s funny (“My hands are dirty.” “My hands are dirty, too. What are you afraid of?”), she’s keeping him at a distance, and finally, they meet in the middle.
1. I Love You/I Know (Carbon Freeze), The Empire Strikes Back
The most romantic scene in any Star Wars film, featuring classic dialogue that continues to inspire. Towards the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Han is seconds away from being put into carbon freeze, which he may or may not survive. The original script called for Leia to say, “I love you,” and Han would reply, “I love you, too.” Except that on-set, no one was happy with how that exchange felt. They tried it over and over until finally, director Irvin Kershner asked Harrison Ford to improvise. “I love you,” Carrie Fisher said in the next take. “I know,” Harrison Ford answered. It was and is a thrilling, heartbreaking moment. It’s really the only way Han would reply — tough but still vulnerable, and very cool. To this day, “I love you/I know” defines Han and Leia.
That’s it. What do you think? Did we nail it? Are we out of our minds? Did we overlook something? Let us know in the comments below!