When the first trailer for F9 (I seriously can't believe we're calling it that) dropped on Friday, fans went nuts. There were numerous aspects of the trailer that made such reactions perfectly valid. Jaws dropped at the revelation that Dominic Torreto has a brother, who will be played by John Cena, and at the image of cars swinging across ravines on ropes like we're watching a Tarzan movie. But, of course, the biggest moment in the trailer came at the end, when it was revealed that Han, played by Sung Kang, is alive after all these years.
But wait. How the hell is Han alive? As excited as fans are to see him back, the movie is going to have to explain is survival as well as his absence over the last several years. We can be sure the explanation will be as over the top as everything else in these films.
We see Han "die" no less than three times in the Fast & Furious franchise. We see it happen as part of the plot of Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift. We see it happen again during a mid-credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, in a sequence which establishes the crash was not the freak accident it appeared to be, but intentional, as Jason Statham's Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) kills Han as a shot against Dom for the near-death of his brother, Owen Shaw. We then see the scene again near the beginning of Furious 7, for anybody who didn't sit through the credits of the previous film.
Of course, this isn't the first time that characters in the Fast & Furious franchise have come back from the dead, but this one took so long I think we all assumed it would stick. So how exactly is the movie going to explain this?
Han Was Saved And Has Been Recovering For Years
We saw Han injured and trapped in a car, seconds before it blew up into a ball of fire. However, one thing that's clear is that in none of the movies where we see Han die, does anybody stick around. We can assume that emergency services arrive as quickly as possible, shortly after Deckard Shaw and Sean Boswell have both left the scene. Perhaps, while things were grim, Han actually was alive when the paramedics found him. He certainly was seriously injured but if he was alive when found, he certainly could have been saved.
His injuries would have been severe. Maybe Han spent some time, maybe a long time, in a coma. If he ended up in a hospital unconscious perhaps nobody knew his name, and thus his survival remained a secret to his friends. By the time he woke up, a lot had happened. He probably still needed significant rehab time, so it really could have been years before Han was ready to come back. Especially since, because of the way the Fast & Furious franchise plays with time, it's not entirely clear how much time has actually passed since Han's accident.
The Death Scene Will Simply Be Changed
As previously mentioned, this is not exactly the first time that characters we thought were dead were not. In Fast & Furious (the fourth movie if you're having trouble with these titles) Michelle Rodriguez's Letty is apparently killed, but in a mid-credits scene at the end of Fast Five, we learn she's alive. Fast & Furious 6 reveals that the way we saw Letty die, simply isn't how it happened.
When we first see the death scene, Letty's car is flipped over in a chase, Letty falls from it, and her assailant appears to shoot her. However, it turns out what really happened is that Letty was able to crawl some distance from the car, before the man with the gun shot the gas tank of the car causing an explosion, which blew her down a hill. Letty was injured, but alive, and had amnesia. I'm really hoping amnesia doesn't play a part this time as well.
Now granted, the only time we see Letty die in Fast & Furious is when Dom visits the scene of the crime and envisions what happened. And he wasn't there, but one assumes this vision is informed by information he'd been given. The scene simply gets changed to include new information that we didn't have before. That certainly could happen here as well, even if we think we saw the "real event" it doesn't mean we did. The way Han survived will end up being obvious because the scene won't simply add new information to explain it, but change what we've already seen.
Han Faked His Death
This one is a bit of a longer shot, to be sure, but if we're throwing ideas at the wall, let's see if this one sticks. I'm not saying that Han and Deckard Shaw were in this together to fake Han's death, that seems unlikely under the circumstances considering Shaw spends all of Furious 7 trying to kill everybody else. But Han wasn't Shaw's first hit when he started moving against "the family." What if Han knew or suspected that something might happen, and so he took precautions in case Shaw tried to make a move.
Yeah, this one feels like the biggest stretch, but it also wouldn't be the craziest thing the franchise has ever done. It also doesn't explain why Han has stayed dead for all this time. If he was ok, you'd think he would have come out of hiding sooner. What does seem clear is that, while Han's return looks to be a surprise to some members of the team, it's not a shock to others, so if they've actually known Han was alive, it could be because they've always known. Because they knew his death wasn't real.
The real answer could be a combination of some of these ideas, as well as other things not considered here. The fact is the Fast & Furious franchise has long since given up on any semblance of reality. The reason Han is alive can absolutely be something so crazy we can't even think of it. And in the end, fans will be so happy it won't matter.