He’s got a rugged swagger, killer eyes, and a shit-eating grin. Women want him, men want to be him, and some men want him too because why shouldn’t they. His name is Han. Han Seoul-Oh. Wait, what?
Han Solo and Han Seoul-Oh: The cowboy scoundrels of Star Wars and Fast & Furious, two multi-million dollar cinematic franchises that span several movies. Plainly put: Who’s cooler?
First, about Han Seoul-Oh. Created as a riff and an homage to Harrison Ford’s goony space bro, Han Seoul-Oh of Fast & Furious lives up to the archetype molded by Star Wars — and maybe surpasses it. Alison Willmore in writing for BuzzFeed believes Seoul-Oh has a “worldly counterbalance to the cocky posturing of most of the other male characters in the series.”
Cocky posturing is Solo summed up in two words. Despite being written in the same mold, if Seoul-Oh were to meet Solo, he’d probably be unimpressed.
There’s also an important thing about Fast & Furious that endeared Seoul-Oh to fans, so much it actually hurts to talk about. Spoiler warning if you haven’t seen it, but: Seoul-Oh dies in 2006’s Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift. But it’s okay, because he’s with Gisele now.
Retroactively morphed to Doctor Who levels of plotting as a fixed point, Seoul-Oh’s death — revealed to be murder — ominously hung over every Fast & Furious until this year’s Furious 7, a whole nine years after Tokyo Drift’s release. Chills ran down spines each time Han talked about settling in Tokyo. When he left at the end of Fast & Furious 6, there was much internal screaming to keep that motherfucker’s ass put. Convoluted storytelling? Yeah, but it was miraculously resolved and now it haunts forever.
Whether it’s Darth Vader or Brazilian drug lords, it doesn’t matter, there are kindred spirits in Toretto’s family and the Millennium Falcon crew. But stack their two cowboys together, and who wins? Let’s compare.
Millennium Falcon vs. Mazda RX-7
No cowboy is without a stallion. While Dom’s crew in Fast & Furious change cars like they change socks, Seoul-Oh always favored import tuners. His most recognized set of wheels was the Mazda RX-7, which he rode at the end of Tokyo Drift.
Nothing more needs to be said about the Millennium Falcon. It’s one of the most iconic ships in sci-fi. People have attempted replicas and Star Wars fans would give up their child if they could have a working Falcon.
But ask yourself: Is the Millennium Falcon really that cool? Everyone in Star Wars considers the thing as functional as a bucket of bolts. Even Luke, who grew up on a goddamn farm, gave Han shit for it. The Falcon is actually less like a slick spaceship and more like your aunt’s Oldsmobile, and not even the sexy vintage ones but like the late ‘80s garbage that resemble electric razors.
And if you were to have one and you miraculously figure out galactic flight control, could you fly without attracting Nighthawks after the Air Force sees you as a UFO in airspace? They sure as hell wouldn’t let you keep it after they bring your ass down. Compared with a Mazda RX-7, which is a real car you can legally drive and looks pretty sweet, sorry. But Seoul-Oh wins.
Princess Leia vs. Gisele Yashar
Both Hans liked strong women, equals who could stand on their own without anyone’s help. That’s Leia, the Princess of Alderaan turned General and Gisele, the former liaison of a powerful Mexican drug lord who first came on in 2009’s Fast & Furious. While she began as a sort of antagonist, she was recruited by Dom for her skills in Fast Five before becoming part of the family, stealing Seoul-Oh’s heart in the process.
From her first minute in the original Star Wars, Leia destroyed notions of what a Princess is presumed to be. She wasn’t dainty or spoiled, she was the determined leader of a rebel movement against a totalitarian regime. “She is no one’s eye candy, she is no one’s pet, she is not here for your comic/sexual relief,” writes Britt Hayes in Birth.Movies.Death. “Leia is a fully-realized character who takes agency for herself and for those who cannot help themselves.”
Gisele is also capable and iron-willed, but she embraces her sexuality in ways Leia never really did or had to. There was a character-defining moment for Gisele Fast Five that could be debated in feminist theories, where she uses her attractive appearance to obtain a VIP’s fingerprints.
To explore the complexity of Gisele, Princess Leia, and other women in the action and fantasy genre is worthy of its own thesis. But here, we simply consider: Who was cooler?
Unfortunately for Team Seoul-Oh, that’s Princess Leia. You just can’t beat a Princess who 1) destroyed all expectations 2) has had some of the coolest stories in the Extended Universe, and 3) has the best lines.
A Lost Love vs. Love That’s Lost
When it comes to their stories, however, it’s a tie.
Han and Leia was the meet-cute in space. They couldn’t stand each other before falling madly in love, and their heartbreaking end of Empire when Han was frozen in carbonite has been the dream of every sci-fi nerd for generations. It’s just so simple: “I know.”
But Han and Gisele? They had something downright Shakespearean. It was a love that’s lost and never fulfills its promise. They had an attraction, but it grew into something more. In the end of Fast Five they were hooking up, but in Fast & Furious 6 they questioned their future. Right as they had decided that yes, they’re meant to be, it was taken from them. Han goes to Tokyo, where he’s destined to be buried, having lost his true love.
I can’t pick. It’s classic romanticism versus poetry that ended too soon. I’m telling you: Fast & Furious is sweeter than you might think.
When it comes down to work, both men have to shut up and nut up. How well do they throw down? Well, they both suck.
Here’s Seoul-Oh, who outnumbered Jah in Fast & Furious 6 and still got thrown like a ragdoll.
And here’s Han Solo, courageously running away from Stormtroopers.
And that’s what makes these guys fun! They subvert action hero expectations by being awful at it, and they make up for their shortcomings in something that really, truly matters.
They both rock.
To survive on the Millennium Falcon has never been on one-on-one dogfighting, it’s maneuvering in ways no one else can. That’s Han Solo, like when he went through the asteroid field in Empire Strikes Back.
…and that’s Han Seoul-Oh too, racing through Tokyo against D.K.
That’s where their strength lies, behind a wheel.
Sure, Han and Han like their firearms. Shooting first, “Hokey religions,” yadda yadda. But that kind of strength has never really defined these men.
They’re not the typical action heroes. They’re not G.I. Joe or John McClane, who solve their problems by force and a one-liner. They’ve always been a bit more clever than that. They’re masculine enough to be aspirational, but smart enough to not be so simple. That’s Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh, two men who are too cool to lose their cool.