**THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR EPISODE VII. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE! THANKS!**
I have had mixed feelings on The Force Awakens ever since I saw it. While I truly loved most of it, especially the new characters, I am firmly in the camp of those upset at Han Solo’s death.
I have stated many times on io9.com and other sites that I believed that if there were three characters in cinema who deserved to get the happily ever after ending, (which for me would mean a peaceful death surrounded by friends and family) it was Han, Luke and Leia. Because we have history with them. They are characters from a story that has affected our entire world collective consciousness through myth not seen since maybe Shakespere or the Illiad? (Historians feel free to correct me)
They are family. They have lived with us for 40 years. Especially Han. Here is the history in two simple photographs.
They deserved a happily ever after, peaceful death ending that we would all want for any beloved family. Obviously, that’s not what happened.
Now, while the scene bothered me for that reason, it was also bothering me because it felt contrived to ape Ben Kenobi’s death. Arguably what was most bothersome is that it was obvious what was going to happen as soon as he walked onto the catwalk.
But I still tried to roll with it and let my love for other parts of the film wash over that distaste. But I couldn’t. Something was really nagging me. And then it hit me what really bothered me about the whole thing.
The death didn’t feel like it was true to the character.
The actions and dialogue of that scene just did not fit or feel like the Han Solo I know. So much so, that that’s what makes it feel off as a whole movie to me. Many will argue, “The love a father has for a son changes everything.” Yeah, maybe. But Han Solo is a rogue smuggler; scoundrel and was played that way up until that scene and then it felt like a different character; as awesome as that acting choice Ford made of Han touching his son’s face was, which is arguably the only thing that sells it at all.
And when I realized how the death bugs me because it doesn’t feel in character, and my head started spinning on how they should have killed him if they insisted on killing him, I realized that not only did they not kill him in character; but they missed the biggest and best fan service opportunity in doing so.
So below; cut and pasted into the actual WGA submitted copy of The Force Awakens is the scene rewritten - How Han Solo should have died:
INT. OSCILLATOR STRUCTURE - LOWER LEVEL - NIGHT
Han finishes setting a charge and is about to move on when he HEARS SOMETHING and conceals himself behind a wide, vertical support. He peaks around the edge and his whole demeanor changes —
HAN’S POV: Kylo Ren appears and stops at the railing, looking down into the filter. Han looks at his son with a tortured storm of feelings.
WE’RE WITH KYLO REN as he resumes his hunt. He heads directly toward WHERE HAN IS HIDING! Kylo Ren has an INCREASING SENSE OF HAN’S PRESENCE as he moves closer. He comes to where Han was hiding — but HAN IS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN.
From his hiding place in a narrow, POWER CHAMBER in the wall, HAN WATCHES HIS SON PASS ONLY A FEW FEET IN FRONT OF HIM.
Han SHIFTS HIS POSITION in the tight compartment, so he can watch Ren’s progress. Kylo Ren turns onto a FLAT BRIDGE THAT BISECTS the open space.
Unaware of his father, Kylo Ren walks purposefully across to the opposite side. Han watches his son walk off — the CLANKCLANK of Kylo Ren’s boots receding.
This is Han’s opportunity to escape but Leia’s words echo through his mind. He makes a decision and moves out, to the edge of the catwalk. He calls out, strongly:
The name ECHOES as Kylo Ren STOPS, far across the vast catwalk. He turns.
KYLO REN: Han Solo. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.
Finn and Rey make their way into the space, opening a HATCH that allows A BEAM OF PRECIOUS SUNLIGHT to stream down like a spotlight on Han and his son. Finn and Rey get to a railing and look down. They can SEE and HEAR Han and Kylo Ren on the catwalk below.
HAN: Take off that mask. You don’t need it.
KYLO REN: What do you think you’ll see if I do?
Han moves toward Kylo Ren.
HAN: The face of my son.
Kylo TAKES OFF HIS MASK. Han is JOLTED — seeing the face of his son for the first time as a man.
KYLO REN: Your son is gone. He was weak and foolish, like his father. So I destroyed him.
HAN: That’s what Snoke wants you to believe but it’s not true. My son is alive.
SEVERAL LEVELS BELOW them, CHEWIE comes to the rail to watch.
INT. OSCILLATOR STRUCTURE - LOWER LEVEL - NEAR DARKNESS
KYLO REN: No. The Supreme Leader is wise.
UP ABOVE, Finn, Chewie and Rey watch, rapt. Stormtroopers dot the perimeter of the structure, watching the scene. ON THE BRIDGE, Han moves closer, stern:
HAN: Snoke is using you for your power. When he gets what he wants, he’ll crush you — you know it’s true.
Kylo hesitates. Somehow, he does know it.
KYLO REN: It’s too late.
HAN: No it’s not. Leave here with me. Come home. We miss you.
For the first time, Kylo Ren seems truly conflicted. Tears flood his stoic eyes...
KYLO REN: I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain.
INT. OSCILLATOR STRUCTURE - DARKNESS FALLS Han takes one step toward his son, but stops himself.
KYLO REN: I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?
Han hears his son’s voice again, pained and vulnerable.
HAN: Yes. Anything.
Kylo Ren unholsters his lightsaber and SLOWLY EXTENDS IT to Han, within a foot of Han’s chest. Han almost can’t believe it. The moment seems to last forever. And just then, the LAST BEAM OF SUNLIGHT streaming through the open hatch VANISHES.
Han actually smiles — and reaches out for the dark weapon -but with the light now gone, KYLO REN’S EYES FILL WITH DARKNESS, JUST AS HE IGNITES THE LIGHTSABER – HAN JUMPS BACK, WHIPS OUT HIS BLASTER AND… HAN SHOOTS FIRST. HIS BLASTER BOLT HITS HIS SON’S RAISED HAND WITH IGNITED LIGHTSABER AND BLASTS IT CLEAN OFF LEAVING KYLO WITH A CAUTERIZED STUMP. JUST LIKE HIS UNCLE’S.
IMMEDIATELY HIS EYES TURN YELLOW AS HE SCREAMS IN RAGE. WITHOUT HESITATION HE USES HIS REMAINING HAND TO FORCE PULL BACK HIS LIGHTSABER JUST BEFORE IT FALLS INTO THE ETHER AND IGNITES IT READY TO STRIKE.
KYLO REN: I Hate you!!!
HAN: (calmly and lovingly) I know.
IN AN IMPULSIVE RAGE, KYLO FINN/BEN SOLO FORCE PUSHES HIS FATHER OFF THE CATWALK, INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE STRUCTURE! HAN FLASHES TO HIS SON A FINAL LOOK OF FORGIVENESS AND A KNOWING SMIRK AS HE FALLS.
INT. RESISTANCE BASE - DAY
Leia, feeling it instantly — knowing — drops into a seat, DEVASTATED.
INT. OSCILLATOR STRUCTURE - NIGHT
Kylo Ren is somehow WEAKENED by this wicked act. Himself horrified. His SHOCK is broken only when —
CHEWIE CRIES OUT IN AGONY! Chewie furiously FIRES AT KYLO REN, HITTING HIM IN THE SIDE! Kylo Ren falls back, stunned.
Our MUSIC TAKES OVER, EPIC AND HEARTBREAKING as Stormtroopers FIRE AT CHEWIE, who is forced to retreat down a corridor, where he holds the EXPLOSIVE REMOTE — he PUSHES THE BUTTON!
Hearing ONLY OUR SCORE, FIRST ONE, then TWO, then FOUR, then
SIX EXPLOSIONS rock the structure — CATWALKS FALL as the walls CAVE IN!
Kylo Ren SEES REY AND FINN, WATCHING THE EXPLOSIONS IN SHOCK -then they SEE KYLO REN, WHO RECOGNIZES THEM BOTH, WITH ASTONISHMENT. He rises to his full height and heads for them with long strides.
Stormtroopers begin to BLAST AWAY AT REY AND FINN! CRAZED, REY FIRES BACK AS BLASTS HIT AROUND HER. FINN WRAPS AN ARM AROUND HER AND DRAGS/CARRIES HER OUT OF SIGHT!
While I didn’t want Han to die, if he went out like that I could have dealt with it because it feels true to the character. Because everyone knows:
Han Shoots first.
Not to mention the obvious call backs to Empire since they already went there. And since they already were recycling old trilogy stuff like a greatest hits record then why not go for broke?
I’ll admit, what I also like about my fan rewrite, is that it leaves it open for him to really come back from the dead. If I had the priviliege of writing the scene that explained how he cheated death I’d write it like this:
INT. OSCILLATOR STRUCTURE – LOWER LEVEL – NIGHT
AS HAN FALLS INTO THE FOGGY DEPTHS BELOW, HE STEADIES HIMSELF AND WHIPS OUT A STORMTROOPER RIP CORD, SAME AS LUKE AND LEIA USED OVER THE DEATH STAR CHASM. HE FIRES IT OUT TO A BEAM LIKE STRUCTURE WHERE IT HOOKS INTO THE METAL HARD AND SWINGS HAN HARD TO ONE SIDE BREAKING THE SPEED OF HIS FALL. JUST AS HE IS ABOUT TO HIT THE WALL, A CIRCULAR VENT OPENS UP AND HE SHOOTS THROUGH IT SLIDING DOWN THE TUBE AT TOP SPEED. HE EVENS OUT FOR A MOMENT AND STOPS. HE TRIES TO GET HIS BARINGS, BEFORE THE FLOOR DROPS BENEATH HIM AND HE GOES SLIDING FASTER AND FASTER UNTIL HE SHOOTS OUT AND LANDS IN –
THE HANGER BAY. RIGHT IN FRONT OF A HYPERDRIVE SHUTTLE.
Han looks around incredulously, not believing his luck. He can’t help but smirk to himself. He winces. He’s got severe broken ribs and lacerations from his son’s force push.
HAN: (to himself) Maybe Leia’s right? Maybe everyone is Force sensitive and not just the Jedi.
He stumbles to the shuttle. He hijacks it and fires up the thrusters. As the shuttle exits the bay Han looks wistfully out the window thinking of his son. And speaks the closest thing to a prayer he’s ever said.
HAN: I’ll never give up on you Ben. Never. But it’s going to take more than a father’s love to save you. Something not even Luke or the Jedi know of. And I’m going to find it. Chewie, take care of everybody for me until I get back.
With that, the shuttle hits hyperspace just as the planet explodes.
With that idea, not only do we have the call back to Luke shooting down the chutes of Cloud City, and the inverse of that now with it being the father Han instead of the son, Luke. Also, the action bit gives a nice wink to Ford’s most other popular character. Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. And even Abrhams has said that the actors in line for the young Han movie should be watching Raiders.
I’m sure many will disagree with my writing and love the film exactly as it is. And that’s great!
I’m writing and publishing this article because I want to love the movie more too and the new direction Disney is taking with the franchise. As I’ve really loved Rebels and the new comics (I’ve also wondered how much the wonderful Star Wars storytelling going on in those parts of the franchise tempered my reaction to TFA.)
And by re-writing the scene (I’m likening this to a screenwriter’s version of The Phantom Edits) Not only can I vent and get off my chest about what bothered me most about the movie in an attempt to enjoy and appreciate it more; but it allows me to ask:
How did they miss such a golden fan service opportunity when they were already going for retro??
I can be reached at Content House Management in Los Angeles.