The Real Reason The Fast And Furious 9 Director Brought Han Back
Once upon a time, it was rare to see a character straight-up return from the dead. Existing in narrative limbo under a shroud of post-story ambiguity, like what happened to Breaking Bad's Walter White or Tony Soprano in The Sopranos? Sure. But to come entirely back? That was highly unlikely.
It was even less likely in action films like the Fast and the Furious franchise, which don't necessarily lend themselves to the same high-concept, rule-bending universe-building of science-fiction, fantasy, and superhero genres. And yet, the first trailer for the ninth Fast and Furious movie, F9, teased just that.
The final few seconds of the trailer effectively rose fan-favorite character Han from the grave. Han made his first appearance in the Fast franchise in 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the same film in which he was believed to have died in a fiery car crash. In the F9 trailer, he's seen walking through a corridor, snack in hand as always, and then there's this:
Whoa! That's unexpected. The big reveal has many fans excited — and it should, because Han's return to the Fast and Furious film series is due in large part to them.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, F9 director Justin Lin explained that after he departed from the Fast franchise back in 2013, a new story idea coupled with comments from hardcore fans inspired him to come back, bringing his long-time collaborator and Han actor Sung Kang with him. He told EW,
"I would travel and just meet people and fans of the franchise, and they would tell me why they love the franchise so much and just share their stories. And along the way, I hadn't seen the other two movies, and I was at a Q&A for Better Luck Tomorrow and someone brought up 'justice for Han,' and so all these things were kind of working together."
The #JusticeforHan hashtag was started by fans angry over the franchise's decision to turn former Fast and Furious villain Deckard Shaw into an ally of Dom Torretto's crew before then giving him and Lucas Hobbs a 2019 spin-off. In the sixth Fast installment, Shaw was revealed to be behind Han's presumed death in Tokyo Drift.
Oddly enough, Han's F9 appearance will basically serve as his second resurrection. In a 2016 interview with EW celebrating the 10th anniversary of Tokyo Drift, both Lin and actor Sung Kang said the story of the nomadic, silent observer with deep pockets actually goes all the way back to the director's first feature film.
In Fast Five, it's established that the name "Han Seoul-Oh", with "Seoul" spelled like the capital of South Korea, is an alias — and an obvious reference to Han Solo from Star Wars. Lin subsequently confirmed in various interviews that Han is actually a continuation of Han Lue, the chain-smoking partier with a moral compass from his 2002 independent crime drama Better Luck Tomorrow. Based on the real-life 1992 "honor roll slaying," the film follows a group of high-achieving Asian American high school students who swap suburban boredom for a school-wide cheating operation that takes a dark turn.
Lin and Kang have grown alongside this character — which is why when the director departed from the franchise, it felt right to finally let the character go. But now Lin is saying that both he and Han have unfinished business in the flashy Fast and Furious universe. He told EW in January 2020,
"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."
It's still unclear how, exactly, Han will make his return, but we'll know soon enough. F9 races into theaters on May 22.
Watch the video to see the real reason the Fast and Furious 9 director brought Han back!
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