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The first time Star Wars fans met legendary smuggler Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, he was in a cantina, possibly thinking about shooting first (depending on who you believe). So there’s some emotional symmetry in this new concept art shared by Lucasfilm art director Christian Alzmann, showing a considered scene for Han’s entrance shot in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
Christian Alzmann is a visual effects art director who has a long history with both Harrison Ford and Star Wars. One of his earliest gigs was as a visual effects conceptual artist on 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Since then, though, he has collaborated on Ford projects like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Cowboys & Aliens.
This art, shared on Alzmann’s Instagram account, shows one idea that the Force Awakens team reportedly had about how to bring Han Solo (Harrison Ford) into the story. Could they have waited all the way until Maz Kanata’s cantina? That would have been a little late in the story to bring Solo in. But J.J. Abrams knew that they needed an iconic entrance for Han and, by extension, his best friend Chewbacca. They came up with this:
Hard to argue against that.
One could actually make the point that, if J.J. Abrams had chosen the above route that is suggested in the concept art, that he’d be giving the trolls even more ammunition to rail that The Force Awakens is just a carbon copy of A New Hope, and that the director merely worked in service of a replica of a beloved movie. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that notion. The Force Awakens is its own roller-coaster ride of sci-fi fun, and Abrams knows how to pilot a ship through that sandbox. But if Han had been introduced in a cantina… yeah, I could see how critiques of “copying” might have been savage.
J.J. Abrams will get a second chance at delivering a wonderful Star Wars adventure when his still-untitled Episode IX hits theaters later this year. From what we understand, the story will shift focus to Leia (Carrie Fisher), as The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi turned their attentions to Han and Luke Skywalker, respectively.
You know what we could use on that one? A title. Footage, too. But really, a title would start to hint at what direction the finale of the Skywalker Saga might be heading.