Not Exactly A 'Star Wars' Story

The night of the Super Bowl this year was filled with so much energy, but I had none for the event. I am not the biggest sports guy and with the exception of Justin Timberlake’s halftime show and the David Harbour Tide commercial, I was not that amused. It honestly seemed like it was going to be a boring night, until a certain movie trailer began to play. 

The silver plated Lucasfilms logo appeared on my television screen, I thought to myself “no way…”. Quickly I stood up from my cheap greyish-greenish couch.  I knew what this was. Soon Stormtroopers appeared, tie-fighters, a familiar hallway in the Millennium Falcon, and then THE Millennium Falcom. 

I didn’t have time to think when Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian took up the screen with a slight grin. As I thought to myself “perfect casting,” the Millenium Falcon was soaring through space. A voice says “your name?” and finally the trailer cut to the title of the film, Solo: A Star Wars Story. 

As the final shot showed Chewbacca putting his arm around a young Han Solo, countless thoughts raced through my head: “OH MY GOD,” “Lando is going to be sick,” “Who cares about the game now,” “This Memorial Day!” and “Nick...come on buddy. It’s a movie.” Seeing this trailer brought me back to my childhood, when Han Solo was one of my heroes. 

I want to go into film someday and the Star Wars series is what lit the match that started my fiery passion for the industry. Star Wars blew me away as a child and I would watch the series on repeat for days at a time, the film in the VCR tapes being slightly worn by now. 

The series had tons of great characters: Obi-wan, Darth Vader, Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, the list goes on. One character that stood out to me the most however was the captain of the Millennium Falcon himself, Han Solo. 

On the surface, Han Solo appeared to be just a hot-headed, cynical, selfish smuggler, whose only concern was himself and money. However throughout the trilogy, we learn that Solo was more than that, much more. He was brave, cunning, loyal, and a man with a lot of heart and a lot of charm. A good man, and to a younger me, he was just the coolest guy ever!

As I kid I wanted everything. I wanted the vest, the ship, the blaster, a smile that was charming not frightening, I wanted to be brave and heroic, oh, I wanted to be like him so bad. Seeing this trailer made me feel that way again! However, seeing this trailer also brought me back to a specific moment that happened not too long ago. When I went to go see the Force Awakens for the first time, and saw my childhood hero...die. 

It was Dec. 23, 2015. I was sitting next to my best friend Kyle, and we were watching The Force Awakens in a theater so crowded that if you were sitting anywhere in the middle of a row, the restroom was no option. About a little over an hour-and-a-half in, the movie so far was great, and everyone was having a great time. I was in a rush of joyful emotions and so captured by the film, I was not exactly ready for what was going to happen next.

The character Kylo Ren, Han’s son and Sith apprentice, is walking across a catwalk within his space station. Han runs out from behind a machine to confront his son. As he steps onto the catwalk, Han calls out Kylo’s real name. “Ben!” 

As the two stand over what seems to be a bottomless pit within the structure, Han tries to reason with Kylo. The two share an emotional moment between father and son, Han believing he has helped his son realize his sinister ways and has convinced him to leave this life and finally come home. 

Kylo, with a slight tear in his eye, says to his father, “I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?” Realizing his son is in so much pain and termoil, Han responds with, “Yes. Anything."

Kylo takes his lightsaber out of the holster and extends it slowly towards Han, as if to show he wants to give up the ways of the dark side. Han, surprised, grabs the lightsaber as he looks into his son’s eyes. As the natural light is completely absent,  Kylo grips the weapon tightly with a dark look on his face. 

Kylo ignites the lightsaber, and as the red fiery blade moves through Han’s chest and back, I feel a depressing pain in my chest. It was as if my heart was taken by what I was witnessing. Chewbacca's  heartbreaking growl, along with Rey and Finn’s reaction mirrored how I felt inside (and probably how my face looked). 

Kylo leans in and says, “thank you” and a look of great sorrow appears on Han’s face. In his last moments, more upset that he felt he had failed his son than by the fact he had faced his end, Solo touches his son’s face for the last time and falls off the catwalk into a the depths of the space station. 

My heart felt out of breath; I could not believe it. I expected Han Solo might die in this film, it was kind of obvious, but I did not know it was going to make me feel this way. This character had been alive and apart of my life before I could even remember. 

As a 5-year-old, I would put video tapes into the VCR to see this character, his charm, his attitude, his heart, his actions. Back then, I never thought that as an 18-year-old, two days from being a 19-year-old, that I would witness his death. But I did, I just did, and I simply felt weird.

I left the theater that night pleased with the film, but with a lingering feeling of loss. I mean, I have always been a lover of film and one day want to be a part of the business, but I did not realize it could be this powerful. Ironically, I felt it was the best scene in the film despite how dejected it made me feel. If it can make my emotions feel this strongly, the scene was doing something great. 

Seeing the teaser trailer during the Super Bowl just made me feel so joyful and untouchable. It made me shake a little with excitement and I forgot about other stresses in my life. With a grin, I marked my mental calendar for May 25, as if I was getting to see an old friend again. 

Although part of me is still saying to myself, “Nick it’s Han Solo, it is a movie character, don’t you think you’re feeling a little extra about this? You wonder why you’re single,” I can’t help but wait in anticipation to see my favorite intergalactic smuggler on the big screen again.

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