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Sung Kang as Han Lue in Fast and Furious 9

The first trailer for Fast & Furious 9, i.e. F9, dropped earlier today, and while the preview hooked people in by revealing that John Cena is playing Dom Tortetto’s brother, Jakob, the biggest surprise was saved for the very end with a surprise appearance from Sung Kang’s Han Lue. Thought to have been killed by Deckard Shaw, Han is very much alive and will be reuniting with his car-loving family in the next Fast & Furious installment.

Speaking about why Han is back for F9, director Justin Lin mentioned how he shares a “personal connection” with the character, and that compared to when he first worked on the Fast & Furious franchise, the sense of community was different than it is now. Feeling that he and his team have to earn “every kind of connection with the audience,” Lin continued:

With these sequels, sometimes people take it for granted and think it’s just going to happen; I always think we have to earn the next one. And so to be able to go through that journey with Han… when I left, I felt it was appropriate and I felt like we were putting the character to bed, but it’s because of some of the things that happened that didn’t quite make sense to me, and so I felt like if I was going to come back, I really wanted to explore why. I think it’s really up to us to bring him back and explore it throughout the themes that we’re all used to.

F9 marks Justin Lin’s fifth time directing a Fast & Furious movie, having previously helmed entries three through six, all of which included Han Lue. Although Han was killed in a car crash in Tokyo Drift, the franchise’s third movie, Fast & Furious, Fast Five and the majority of Fast & Furious 6 all took place beforehand. Han’s death was revisited during the ending of the latter and once more during Furious 7, with Dom and the rest of the crew believing that Deckard Shaw had successfully murdered him.

However, as Justin Lin informed Entertainment Weekly, Han’s death didn’t sit right with him, so upon signing onto Fast & Furious 9, he decided to bring Han back into the fold. As for how Han factors into F9, Lin responded:

In this world, I feel like things happen for a reason. I won’t go into details or anything, but I do think that bringing him back is nothing I take lightly — and it took a lot — but I think what I appreciate is that this universe has really grown and it allows us to evolve and really kind of redefine ourselves as we go.

Once Deckard Shaw started being treated like a member of the Fast “family” at the end of The Fate of the Furious, and Jason Statham’s character subsequently teamed up with Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs in Hobbs & Shaw, many fans felt this was a betrayal to Han. This prompted responses from certain individuals working on the franchise that “Justice for Han” was coming. Now we know how: by having him back among the living.

Of course, now the big mystery is how Han is still alive. Did he fake his death? Or have things just gotten so crazy within the Fast & Furious world that he was somehow resurrected? Will we even get an explanation? Time will tell, but the reaction online to the character’s return has been overwhelmingly positive, to the point that “HAN IS ALIVE” is trending on Twitter.

Along with Han Lue, Fast & Furious 9 features the return of Jordan Brewster’s Mia Toretto, Charlize Theron’s Cipher, Helen Mirren’s Magdalene Shaw, Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell and Jason Tobin’s Earl (who was last seen in Tokyo Drift). Along with John Cena’s Jakob, the movie will feature new characters played by Michael Rooker, Cardi B, Finn Cole, Anna Sawai, Vinnie Bennett, Oduna and Francis Ngannou.

F9 races into theaters on May 22. Find out what else is hitting the silver screen this year in our 2020 release schedule.

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