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Reel Women: Why Jennifer Lawrence Is the Best Choice for Young Han Solo

Jennifer Lawrence Han Solo
20th Century Fox/Vogue

With Lucasfilm and Disney making a standalone ‘Star Wars‘ film focusing on the adventures of young Han Solo, we started thinking about the young actors that could possibly fill those shoes, and only one name made sense: Jennifer Lawrence. Too bad she’s a woman.

First off, I’m not ridiculous — I know Han Solo is/was/will always be a man. You can’t write a story about young Han Solo and make him into a woman unless one of his early adventures included a trip to a sterile hospital facility planet for gender reassignment surgery, and Disney probably never wants to go there.

But here’s the thing, when I think about all the male actors under 30 who are aged appropriately to play a young Han Solo, none of them seem right for the part. Josh Hutcherson, Nicholas Hoult, Chris Hemsworth (or Liam, even) , Aaron Johnson, Zac Efron, Anton Yelchin, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Alex Pettyfer, et al. — none of these guys are right for a young Han Solo. Most of them are too feminine to play the part, and that’s not an accusation or a complaint, but it’s just how things have been shifting in recent years. We’ve been attracted to more sensitive leading men in recent years — tastes evolve over time. Some of the names on that list are the opposite of feminine, like Chris and Liam Hemsworth, but those Hemsworth fellas are a bit too gruff and one-dimensional.

Han Solo has swagger. He’s witty, sarcastic, quick-thinking, and adventurous. He has a wry smile and he’s awfully full of himself for good reason. He’s mischievous and daring and masculine without being muscle-headed. Every lady wanted to be with him and every guy wanted to be him. There’s only one actor under 30 who I think could play Han Solo with the same je ne sais quois of Harrison Ford, and that’s Jennifer Lawrence.

Not only is she athletic enough to run from bad guys, but she can convincingly wield weapons in a way that feels like someone might actually get hurt. Her roles are often women who are confident (bordering on cocky), determined, quick-witted, and smart, and she can lob one-liners like no one’s business. She has that mischievous twinkle in her eye, just like Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. Her resilience in ‘Winter’s Bone,’ her action heroine antics in ‘The Hunger Games,’ and her witty banter with Bradley Cooper in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ combined could make for an excellent intergalactic hero in the vein of young Han Solo.

It’s just too bad that Han is a man and history can’t be rewritten (no matter what that other intergalactic traveler ‘Doctor Who’ tells us). Lawrence’s demeanor combines both feminine and masculine traits, most likely owing to her Kentucky upbringing. She’s no-nonsense in interviews and has quickly become one of America’s favorite young actors, saying what’s on her mind and being honest to what most of us (or at least most publicists) would consider a fault. The woman has swagger — there’s just no other word for it. And swagger is a term we strongly identify with men, yet this young woman clearly possesses that masculine quality in a way that’s uniquely feminine.

But her male peers don’t have that same appeal — the only other actors close to her age group that have swagger are Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, and neither of them could play a young Han Solo because they’re just a little too old and a little too Aryan.

Can we throw a Rule 63 down here? If you’re not aware, Rule 63 is an internet rule that states that for every fictional character there exists an equal, opposite-gender counterpart. This is why it’s cool to see guys cosplay as male versions of female comic book characters and vice-versa. It would be amazing if Disney and Lucasfilm decided to gender-swap Han Solo — and yeah, we all know Han was a guy in the old ‘Star Wars’ movies, but wouldn’t it be cool if they could just make Han a woman without having to address the fans like they’re talking to children? In an ideal world, young Han Solo could be a woman, and we wouldn’t say anything about it because we’d just accept that it was really, really f—ing cool.

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