StarWars.com examines the surprisingly similar paths of a scoundrel and a Tatooine farm boy.
Star Wars Echoes examines the lives of two characters -- seemingly very different on the surface -- and how they're often more similar than we might think.
Spoiler warning: This story contains details and plot points from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Throughout the mythology of the Star Wars universes, this synchronicity can be seen again and again, binding heroes, villains, creatures and legend to one another despite their paths never crossing even once. Whether in Jedi or Sith, soldier or Senator, the reflections of Star Wars are as myriad and infinite as the stars themselves…even when seen in the stories of a zealous moisture farmer on Tatooine and a desperate scrumrat on the mean streets of Corellia.
One, Luke Skywalker, bears an impossible legacy, though little does he know it. The other, Han Solo, wears the weight of hardship around his shoulders, disguising his heart of gold beneath a tough exterior. Both yearn for the stars, each possessing escape plans that will lead astray. Polar opposites of one other -- the first raised in the sun by a loving family, the second forced to steal in darkness by a vicious, surrogate “mother” and her enforcers -- the formative stories of young Luke Skywalker and Han Solo reflect each another in more ways than their years fighting for survival and freedom against the Empire might later convey.
Each longed to escape their respective planets to fly among the stars.
Contrasting the iconic, twin-sunned yearning of reluctant moisture farmer Luke Skywalker against young Han Solo’s frantic flight to freedom, one might be unable to find the common thread. But at their heart, both journeys were rooted in the driving need to escape a stifling, trapped existence. Both wanted to fly, to break from the planet that chained them. Luke’s plan, his choice of exit, was to join his friends at the Imperial Academy. Han, meanwhile, would take any way out -- and ironically, his road led to the Empire, as well…though hardly by choice. In either case, both Han and Luke yearned to be pilots from a young age, to leave the ground and chart their destinies among the stars. Little did either know, despite their plans, what their actual destinies had in store and how each would be impossibly intertwined with the other.
They unwillingly sacrificed a loved one in order to leave.
“We are what we leave behind.” This quote has been said in terms of the life one has lived, in the legacy they’ve created. In the cases of our would-be Jedi and fledgling scoundrel, however, it can be applied to those who fell by the wayside in order to provide the necessary push out the door -- or more to the point, off world. For Luke, of course, it was the murder of his uncle and aunt, burned by stormtroopers because they happened to own a particular set of droids. Luke’s devotion and responsibility to Owen and Beru -- the only family he’d ever known -- were the last remaining threads tying him to a life on Tatooine. Heartbroken, encouraged by Ben Kenobi (now the only connection to his father’s unknown legacy) to honor their memory by accompanying him to Alderaan, the death of Luke’s loved ones paved the way for his journey to finally begin. Years earlier on Corellia, Han was forcibly separated from Qi’ra, the love of his live, while fleeing through Coronet Spaceport. Pounding on the grate, shouting her name as she was dragged back, Han had to leave his girlfriend behind in order to get away, to leave the hardships of Corellia for a ship, an escape, a better future. Unlike Luke (“I’m never coming back to this planet again”), Han planned to return. But in order for his story to start, the one-day general had to first venture alone into the galaxy…going solo in order to truly grow into his impromptu surname and become the pilot he needed to be.
Both needed the help of a charming scoundrel with a fast ship.
Two missions, both desperate, and a flight plan hatched inside hives of scum and villainy divided by a span of years. The first, a Kessel Run -- an audacious plan to spare the lives of all involved, a quick trip through a maelstrom in order to secure a stash of unrefined coaxium. The second a mission of mercy-turned rescue, petitioned by a hopeful princess via her loyal astromech droid. Despite the years and purpose, each objective required a quick ship, a willing pilot and no questions asked. The galactic cycle of fate would have it that the former’s seeker eventually becomes the latter’s scoundrel, engineering a neat bit of karma for Han Solo -- who long ago sought out Lando Calrissian at the Lodge of Fort Ypso to secure his Millennium Falcon much as Luke and Ben do for him at the cantina in Mos Eisley years later.
Unlikely mentors taught each of them a valuable lesson aboard the Millennium Falcon.
Two beings’ centers had never been as morally different than those of the mercenary Tobias Beckett and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Men of the universe, each armed with an understanding of how people think and work. Yet both men were thrust into new learner-mentor relationships, equally and coincidentally racing to their respective destinations aboard the Millennium Falcon. During both journeys, each imparted valuable life lessons to their corresponding charge -- Obi-Wan, of course, inducted eager Luke into the ways of the Force. Beckett, meanwhile, advised cocky Han to assume that everyone would betray him, an admonition he soon heeded due to the actions of Lando and then Beckett himself. Both Luke and Han received speedy educations aboard the Falcon, and both were forced to choose how much of the lesson to absorb and then apply to their own individual destinies.
Luke and Han each lost someone they loved early in their journey.
While sacrifice had been important to kick each hero off-planet, a second -- possibly more gut-wrenching -- personal loss cemented each of their resolves. Through years of Imperial training and a harrowing train robbery alongside Beckett’s crew, Han Solo always kept a return to Corellia -- and Qi’ra -- in sight. Suddenly reunited with the love of his life aboard Dryden Vos’ yacht, Han envisioned a life of freedom and adventure together with his long-lost love. Unfortunately, Beckett’s lesson of betrayal demolished those plans after ambitious Qi’ra abandoned her former boyfriend on Savareen for advancement within Crimson Dawn. Though Han’s loss was emotional rather than physical, the blow, and subsequent freedom to partner with Chewie, solidified the walls around his heart, making it difficult to trust and connect emotionally with any other being for a long while. Luke’s loss, of course, materialized (or de-materialized, as the case may be) in the form of Darth Vader’s execution of the boy’s new-found mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Having only recently discovered his connection to a larger story (and soon, to a legacy both heroic and terrible at the same time), Obi-Wan’s death ripped the truth out from under Luke’s boots, leaving him with little to go on save a lightsaber, several hasty lessons, some new colleagues, and the determination to both do good and avenge his father. Luke would eventually find himself reunited with Obi-Wan, first on Hoth and then Dagobah, but that terrible moment aboard the Death Star helped formalize Luke’s sense of purpose -- join the Rebellion, fight the Empire, avenge his family -- and push him toward the next step in his journey. Han's last meeting with Qi'ra on Savareen, the shared glance as her yacht glided away, set the young smuggler on his road to rebellion, as well.
Both farm boy and scoundrel played a pivotal role in saving a band of rebels.
A one in a million shot. A gesture of goodwill by a man who’d lost it all. Two men facing specific odds -- Luke, a world-killing satellite and the forces of evil; Han, a choice between self-preservation and enrichment vs. helping a band of rebels in need. Being the hero sometimes means performing incredible feats and saving the day…or it can take shape via smaller, more personal actions, like forgoing a huge payday and a better life to enrich those fighting for a better galaxy. Luke Skywalker fired the proton torpedoes that destroyed the first Death Star and by doing so, scored a great victory for the Rebellion. Han Solo gave up his coaxium, handing it to Enfys Nest and her Cloud-Riders rather than cashing in, understanding that his sacrifice might strike a blow against evil. Luke, of course, would go on to greater things, growing as a valiant hero, eventually helping to redeem Darth Vader and topple the Empire. Han would take a more circuitous road, though he would get there in the end, as well. His evolution from scrumrat to smuggler to rebel would take longer than Luke’s from farmer to Jedi, but both journeys would culminate in individual destinies that would echo back to one another, intertwining as each hero found his own path on the way to becoming iconic legends.
Neil Kleid is a writer and designer who truly belongs among the clouds. He digs Star Wars, comix, mobile design, BBQ, and baseball. Talk to him about design and Lobot on Twitter at @neilkleid.