J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker is packed with more callbacks and fan-pleasing references than any other Star Wars movie to date, though some are a little subtler than others. And as we delve into the film’s brief nod to one of the most famous moments from The Empire Strikes Back, be warned that some major spoilers lie ahead.
As those of you who’ve seen the movie will recall, the Sequel Trilogy finale features a redemption arc for Kylo Ren, whose journey back to the Light Side is completed by a short reunion with his father Han Solo. Many of you will have likely picked up on the reference to 2015’s The Force Awakens, when Ben tells Han, “I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it.” But at the end of the scene, we also have what appears to be a quieter callback to Han and Leia’s final exchange in Empire.
When Adam Driver’s character says to his father, “Dad…,” Han cuts him off, replying, “I know.” The moment has clear parallels with the time Han said those exact words to Leia right before he was frozen in carbonite, and considering how many other references Abrams inserts into his new film, it’s easy to believe that the nod was intentional.
Given Harrison Ford’s generally dismissive attitude towards the Star Wars franchise, many of us assumed that the actor was done with the saga after The Force Awakens, though his brief return in the final episode of Skywalker Saga makes a fair amount of sense, especially given his crucial importance in Kylo’s personal arc.
Nonetheless, it looks like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may indeed have been the final outing for the original Han Solo, though the franchise reportedly continues with a new big screen release in 2022.