It’s Friday, and that means another round is over in the Greatest Love of All Couples Bracket Tournament! After over 22,000 votes cast, we’re down to the Final Four this week: Big Bang Theory‘s Leonard and Penny against Felicity and Oliver from Arrow, and The Princess Bride‘s Westley and Buttercup against Star Wars‘ Han and Leia. So, this week, we’re focusing on the one from a galaxy far, far away: Han Solo and Leia Organa.
When we first meet Han Solo (around the 2:37 mark of the above video), he’s clearly not trustworthy – a necessary evil for Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker as they hope to find a way off Tattooine. But there’s something about his casually slouching figure, kicking back at the Mos Eisley Cantina that lures us right in, making us want to know more about him even if he shoots first. Han is the OG Space Cowboy – the maverick smuggler and scoundrel who plays by his own rules and will do nearly anything for a buck, but also has a heroic heart of gold and a soft spot for a pretty lady. Many think characters like Firefly‘s Captain Malcolm Reynolds and Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Star-Lord are inspired by his laid-back swagger and roguish ways. When we were young, we all thought Luke Skywalker was our hero – the one boys wanted to be and girls swooned over. But as we grew up, everyone realized Luke was too goody-goody to be all that interesting; it was really always about Han, the handsome bad boy with the sly smirk. Even in his old age, he lost none of those qualities we fell in love with decades ago.
When we first meet Princess Leia, she appears to be a damsel in distress, projected as a hologram by a loyal R2-D2. But the next time we see her, she’s a ball-buster, stepping right up to the terrifying Darth Vader and making demands. Even after her planet, Alderaan, is destroyed by the Death Star, she doubles down on her mission to help the Rebellion and defeat The Empire. She’s not backing down from a fight, knows her way around a blaster, has a fierce mouth on her, and was born to lead. While she’s certainly a beauty, her looks take a back burner to her ferocity and smarts. As she ages, she only becomes more of a force (pun intended), becoming the first General in the next-wave Resistance.
How They Met
In Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Han, Obi-Wan and Luke seek out Leia on Alderaan after receiving her distress call. When they arrive on the scene of Alderaan’s destruction, they only find the Death Star (“That’s no moon.”), and the Millennium Falcon is soon being tractor-beamed onto the space station. Once on board, Han and Luke set out on a rescue mission to free an imprisoned Leia. While Luke’s first reaction is to behave the smitten white knight, Han immediately clashes with the saucy princess, who shoots her way into a trash chute, declaring “Somebody has to save our skins!” Han then tells Luke, “Wonderful girl! Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her!” Of course, that trash chute leads to the suspenseful trash compactor scene, in which Han dubs Lea “Your Worship.” And the seeds of love are thus sown.
Why We Ship It
Han and Leia really should not work. Two headstrong rebels who fight constantly and seemed on divergent paths — one is royalty driven by a singular mission, the other a self-serving criminal who’s only out for a buck — should never have been a match. But their opposites-attract chemistry was just too intense for they themselves to ignore. Just when Han thought he could walk (or fly) away, she kept pulling him right back in. And when he’s captured on Cloud City and handed over to Boba Fett for delivery to Jabba the Hutt, it’s Leia who concocts a plan to free him from his carbonite prison on Tattooine. Their arguments feel like real lovers’ quarrels with that push-pull of “I love you but you drive me crazy” that real couples in love have. Of course, they do end up making a go of marriage, and ultimately tragedy splits them apart. It feels so human amid all the blinking lights and heavy machinery of outer space.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Han and Leia romance is part of what makes their Star Wars films work so damn well. It’s why their romance continues to be an essential part of the new universe of stories starting with The Force Awakens.
If I had to pick one favorite Han and Leia moment, it would be this one, which still gives me all the feels:
Do you love Han and Leia as much as we do? Go vote for them in the Greatest Love of All Bracket Tournament now!