The emotional high point of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is undoubtedly Han Solo’s tragic death at the hands of his son, Kylo Ren. Even though the film fiercely mined nostalgia from the original trilogy for all its worth, this moment showed that the new set of movies is determined to explore bold new territory.
Despite Han’s demise being considered one of the best moments in Episode VII, Mark Hamill explained in a recent interview with Vanity Fair that he could have improved upon it, revealing how he thinks it should have gone down.
“Now, remember, one of the plots in the earlier films was the telepathic communication between my sister and me. So I thought, Carrie will sense that Han is in danger and try to contact me. And she won’t succeed, and, in frustration, she’ll go herself. Then we’re in the situation where all three of us are together, which is one of my favorite things in the original film, when we were on the Death Star. It’s just got a fun dynamic to it.
So I thought it would have been more effective, and I still feel this way, though it’s just my opinion, that Leia would make it as far as she can, and, right when she is apprehended, maybe even facing death—Ba-boom! I come in and blow the guy away and the two of us go to where Han is facing off with his son, but we’re too late. The reason that’s important is that we witness his death, which carries enormous personal resonance into the next picture. As it is, Chewie’s there, and how much can you get out of [passable Chewbacca wail] ‘Nyaaarghhh!’ and two people who have known Han for, what, 20 minutes?”
Personally, I think Hamill has a good point. Having Luke and Leia present at Han’s death would have cranked up the pathos way beyond what we saw in the film, not to mention giving both Hamill and Fisher an interesting and complex scene to play out. It’s fun to imagine the tension of a cross-cut sequence between Leia desperately battling her way through the First Order and Han inching ever closer to death, that’s punctuated by the ass-kickin’ heroic reappearance of none other than Luke goddamn Skywalker.
But let’s face it, it’s extremely easy to imagine these things and considerably less easy to slot them into the ongoing narrative of the new trilogy. For it to work you’d have to jettison the hugely important fact that Luke is in self-imposed exile and that Leia has become a respected General rather than a ground soldier, not to mention shifting focus from the protagonists for a bit of what could generously be described as nostalgia-drenched fan service.
Fortunately, Hamill agrees, admitting that he was “never more happy to be wrong” when he saw the final cut of The Force Awakens.