In the original Star Wars trilogy (and “The Force Awakens”) is Han Solo Force-sensitive?
The Force is one of the central tools in the Star Wars franchise for distinguishing between heroes and villains. There is the Dark Side of the Force, and there is the “Light” side. The latter is not strictly a term used in the series, but it describes the implied opposing presence to the more talked-about Dark Side.
In the original Star Wars trilogy, we meet a number of Force-sensitive characters, from those who connect with the Light Side, like Luke Skywalker, Leia (though only by sensing foreseen occurrences), Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda, to those who use the Dark Side, like Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. In these films, we never learn how the Force is made apparent in the characters, whereas the prequels offer more background. In Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999), Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn explains the concept of midi-chlorians, which are genetic traits that are attuned to the Force. Midi-chlorian counts determine how strong the Force is with someone. For example, Anakin Skywalker’s is incredibly high, even bigger than Yoda’s. (Okay, not everybody is convinced by the scientology that the prequels introduce about the Force. However, this is an interesting explanation as to what the Force is and how it can be measured.) When an individual uses unique reflexes or senses unforeseen events, these behaviors indicate they may be “Force-sensitive.” According to sources in the Star Wars universe, the Jedi discovered individuals with Force-sensitive traits; hence the majority of Force users are on Yoda’s Council in the Temple.
Luke and Leia, two of our three heroes in A New Hope (1977) to Return Of The Jedi (1983), are known to be Force-sensitive because they are the offspring of powerful Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, who becomes Sith Lord Darth Vader. In fact, though, the third protagonist of the original trilogy, Han Solo, could be Force-sensitive as well, and there is potential evidence that may support this claim.
Let’s look at chronologically in terms of time period (not when films were released but when they were set). In Episode I - The Phantom Menace, which takes place about 40 years before the originals, Qui-Gon Jinn says to young Anakin Skywalker, “You must have Jedi reflexes if you race pods.” These Jedi impulses tend to involve the Force, but when Qui-Gon says this he doesn’t know of the boy’s potential. Anakin wins the podrace – is it due to Anakin’s unknowing ability to use the Force or to Qui-Gon’s? Either way, Jedi and Sith make up most of the known users of the Force, but their power isn’t acquired during padawan or apprentice training. Therefore, in the Star Wars universe, one doesn’t strictly have to become either to use the Force. As Yoda says of the Force, “Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. You must feel the Force around you. Between you, me, the tree, the rock. Everywhere.”
Like Anakin in The Phantom Menace, Han Solo doesn’t know what the Force is in A New Hope. In fact, he mocks it. Eventually, though, he accepts its unique abilities, probably because he witnesses Luke and Obi-Wan use it. Han Solo’s being a Jedi would go against his character, but an ability to use the Force would make him an even more interesting individual. Referring back to what Qui-Gon Jinn tells Anakin (“You must have Jedi reflexes if you race pods”), we might note that Han Solo has piloted the Millennium Falcon into multiple phases of combat. We could argue Solo’s unbeknownst ability to use the Force shows in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) when he, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO find themselves in a cat-and-mouse situation against the Empire. The latter are in pursuit, but Solo rather dangerously flies straight into an asteroid field. The fact that he avoids all of the asteroids despite C-3PO’s stating the narrow odds for survival raises a possibility that Solo may be Force-sensitive. Leia also says, “You don’t have to do this to impress me,” hinting that Solo may be showing off his extraordinary flair and creativity when piloting the Falcon. Even the exterior shots of the Falcon gliding around the asteroids so effectively may suggest Solo’s ability to use the Force, especially as the Tie Fighters explode during this chase.
The alternate argument—and what the films on the surface lead us to believe—is that Han Solo is simply a highly talented individual whose special powers come, not from the Force, but from his super-sized self-confidence and daring under pressure. There is something inspiring about Solo’s not possessing any “magic” powers and being, simply, a regular man with common sense and drive, who knows what it takes to win against superhuman evil forces.
On the other hand, Solo’s sharp instincts and faith in himself would suggest he is deeply in touch with an understanding of how the universe operates, and this brings us back to Force sensitivity. It is debatable as to whether the ability to use the Force is some kind of magic naturally bred from birth. Anakin Skywalker was born without a father, suggesting a powerful figure created him through midi-chlorians, giving him such intense Force-sensitivity that he managed to win a podrace without even knowing his strength with the Force. Similarly, to a large degree in Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo saves Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO from the Empire’s attack by using Jedi reflexes. Is this just luck or, like Anakin, does he unknowingly use the Force to escape the space pursuit?
Han Solo’s Force-sensitivity would be the icing on the cake, so to speak, considering that Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are already linked with the Light Side of the Force. In fact, this hidden fact from the originals could be a nice reveal for the new trilogy beginning with Episode VII: The Force Awakens this December.
Will there be any potential indications of this in these installments? Do you think Han Solo is Force-sensitive?