The Real Reason Han Solo Was Frozen In Carbonite In The Empire Strikes Back
The Han Solo cliffhanger in The Empire Strikes Back was considered a bold move back in 1980, dooming Star Wars fans to three years of uncertainty as they waited to learn of the smuggler’s fate in Return of the Jedi. It’s therefore strange to think that this development was partly a matter of convenience, stemming from concerns about Harrison Ford’s future in the blockbuster franchise.
As you’ll likely recall, Han ends his Empire Strikes Back journey frozen in carbonite, having been captured by the Empire and handed over to Boba Fett. Originally, however, the plan was for Han to escape Vader’s forces and flee Cloud City along with Chewie and the rest of the gang.
What prompted the change was some uncertainty at the time that Ford would reprise his role for the next movie. Unlike his co-stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, Ford was only contracted for one sequel, and due to the actor’s growing popularity and his involvement in the Indiana Jones films, the star was reportedly unsure if he was willing to return.
As a result, George Lucas thought it best to keep their options open, freezing Han in carbonite and leaving the character’s fate up in the air until the next installment. In the end, it was Return of the Jedi producer Howard Kazanjian – who also worked with Ford on Raiders of the Lost Ark – who persuaded the actor to see out the Original Star Wars Trilogy.
Of course, even after Return of the Jedi, Ford was ultimately convinced to come back for two more movies, the most recent being last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Nonetheless, it looks like the original Han Solo might finally be done with the franchise, though if you’d care to see Ford in another familiar role, then look out for Indiana Jones 5 when it hits theaters on July 9th, 2021.