[identity profile] valarltd.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] ship_manifesto
Title: Everything I do, I do it for you
Fandom: Star Wars
Pairing: Han Solo/Luke Skywalker
Author: Angel
Spoilers: It’s 25 years old. Your fault if you haven’t seen them
Email: valarltd@hotmail.com

As [livejournal.com profile] killabeez discovered, writing about archetypal characters is tough. What is there to say about Luke or Han that everyone doesn’t already know? Anyway, let’s lift on this journey.

"If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the world it’s farthest from."

Luke Skywalker, twenty years old, and trapped on a backwater planet, yearns for adventure. His best friend Biggs has already left for the Academy, but his Uncle Owen finds reason after reason for him to stay on "just one more season." An outsider to the local teens, Luke spends much of his time working and dreaming of flying. An orphan, Luke has an almost unquenchable curiosity about his father, a deep yearning to know more.
This is one of the iconic images of Luke:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

"I was once a Jedi, like your father."

As the movies progress, he follows the path of the Jedi, in an attempt to become more like his father. He takes the lead in rescuing a captive princess, destroys an Imperial battlestation, and trains under a legendary Jedi Master.

"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father."

In a confrontation with Darth Vader, Luke loses his hand and his dreams of his father. Cornered, about to be captured, he does the last thing left and opts to die like a Jedi. He eludes both Vader and death, and is repaired by the medical droids.

"I was killing your kind when being a Jedi meant something."

By the third movie, Luke is at the height of his power. He confronts Vader and the emperor, and learns that having and wielding power is not enough. One also must know when to give up power. Secure in himself at last, he returns to his friends, knowing he is not the last of the Jedi, but the first.

Han Solo, on the other hand is older, more jaded. He is a man with a fast gun, a fast ship and a fast mouth. He is in trouble with a local crime lord and trusts no one but his wookiee companion, Chewbacca. The official backstory is that he was a promising Imperial officer who threw it away in a moment of compassion and saved a wookiee slave from being beaten to death. He still wears the uniform pants with his home-world’s highest decoration, the Corellian Bloodstripe.

He takes what he thinks is a nice, easy charter, a cake job, and it turns into a fiasco of rescued princesses, rewards, suicide missions and endless imperial trouble.

Throughout the movies, his "trust no one but the wook" stand and his mercenary front are continually challenged until they finally dissolve at the end of the last movie.

When Brian Daley was asked to write a Star Wars novel back in 1978, he said “I want to write abut Solo. He’s the only one who has any sort of moral decision to make.”

While Luke is swept by events and his destiny, Han chooses to put himself in danger. He does this for two things: money and Luke. The former motivator loses its power as the movies progress. He takes the charter to Alderaan for money. Luke’s persuasion and the promise of money involve him in the rescue of Princess Leia. He delivers the rebels to the base for the promised reward. He returns to rescue Luke during the battle of the Death Star.

He charges out into a lethal blizzard because Luke is lost. It is interesting to note that when Leia is lost on Endor, he slumps against a tree and mutters "I hope she’s all right." This is in contrast to bullying junior officers, threatening to sic Chewie on people and commandeering a tauntaun when Luke is lost. After the men part ways, Han is reasonably protective of Leia, rescuing her from the collapsing base. But he’s also willing to leave her for the mynocks if she’s not fast enough to get on the ship. His anger at Lando for the betrayal at Cloud City only boils over when he learns they are bait for Luke. If one reads the carbon freezing as an execution, he’s even dying in Luke’s place.

In the third movie, Han is rescued, but disoriented. He tries to keep up a good front and banter, but he’s clearly not quite himself. He is slowly moving away from the mercenary, from his taken name of “Solo” into a man who can form connections and take responsibility for others as well as himself. The fact that all his friends would stake their lives on Luke’s plan to get him out of Jabba’s clutches touches him. He’s willing to become a general, and take a very dangerous mission in the last stand against the empire. The “romantic triangle” plot comes to fruition in this installment as well. He acts constantly jealous of Luke and Leia, but the target is ambiguous.

I realized I’ve rambled more about Han than Luke until now. Luke is open, willing to trust and give of himself for everyone: Ben, the Princess, Han, the droids, the rebels, even Vader in the end. Han is the one who has to learn to connect to others through out the movies.

Luke has a different growth arc. His is learning the ways of power and how not lose himself among them. He requires an anchor. “Your faith in your friends is your weakness,” the Emperor tells him.
The canon bits that support the ship:

Let’s start with the look that launched a thousand fics:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is from the goodbye scene on Hoth. This is the subtext moment that has sent dozens of fangirls screaming to google to find slash.

I once transcribed it as follows:
"Luke, you all right?" Han asked from atop the Falcon where he was working.

"Yeah." Luke opened his mouth to say more, but the intensity of Han's look stopped him. He settled for a smile and turned to go.

"Be careful." Han's words stopped him, and Luke looked back and smiled again.

"You, too." He walked away.

The camera came in for a close up of the brooding stare, and then cut to Chewbacca looking after Luke, then up at Han.

The camera holds that brooding stare for a very long seven seconds. It is tight close-up. This bit always made me squirm in the theater. I couldn’t figure out why I was uncomfortable, why it was taking so long.

When I came back to the movies in July of 2000, I was wearing slash-colored glasses. But, I had never expected to find it in The Holy Trilogy! Then we hit the scene on Hoth, and everything made sense.


The little once-over that Luke gives Han in the cantina. Twice. Followed by a curious head-tilt.

The way Luke ends up in Han’s smuggling compartment, instead of Ben’s, and the little sort of yearning motion he gives before Chewbacca surfaces.

The way Han keeps giving up his notions of himself for Luke. Yes, he agrees to rescue the Princess for money, but his behavior on the escape is one of constantly watching out for Luke.

The snarky little “Princess and a guy like me” scene. It is meant to be read as establishing a triangle, but the nature of the triangle is ambiguous throughout the movies.

The ease with which they invade each other’s space, standing too close, hugging, touching. This begins on Tatooine, when Han ushers Luke aboard the Falcon and does not stop. Luke is willing to grab Han’s gun hand in a dangerous situation on Endor.

I’ve already talked about Han returning at Yavin. A suicide mission, he calls it, yet he doesn’t leave. He sticks around to make sure Luke is safe, and rescues him, standing by him when everyone, even faithful Artoo, has been lost.

I’ve also discussed the Hoth rescue. A great many stories have been written about that night in the emergency shelter, which was, presumably, spent warming Luke up and staying up all night so nobody would freeze to death.

After Hoth, they aren’t together again, but Han’s pain summons Luke across the galaxy. Leia is not tortured on-screen. Chewbacca (who in the radio scripts is described as having an affinity for the Force in his own way) is, and Han is. It is Han Luke hears, the screams knocking him out of his levitation practice. And this time, it is Luke to the rescue.

In Jedi, Luke has changed. He is more centered, calmer in his power. Intense is the only word for him. It is Han he is the most like his old self around. It is Han that provokes five of the seven smiles we see out of him in this movie.

Han changes too in the carbon freeze, and it is around Luke that he retains the most of his old personality. The fast mouth and fast gun are more likely to come to Luke’s aid than anyone else’s, even Leia’s.

The expression when they fall out of the net on Endor is priceless on both parts.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This next part is touchy. I was a huge Han/Leia shipper for years. But RotJ always left me dissatisfied, even in 1983, because the romance didn’t feel right. Through Bespin, I am buying Han’s pursuit of Leia. But in RotJ, this reverses, and it is Leia pursuing Han as he pulls away from her. (Breaking off a kiss with a beautiful woman to tousle the ears of an ewok is hardly the most resounding declaration of love.)

This constant pulling away, combined with a lack of the earlier chemistry, only set the stage for me to see the slash. I can see them trying to make things work, post-Endor, but I can’t see it working out, as much as I wanted to at 15.

Where to find the good stuff.

Elusive Lover is the first place to stop. It is the founding website for Han/Luke. It has illustrations, stills from the missing movie scenes, the text of the first two zines (my favorites are “Bloodfire” from number 1 and “Twin Moons” from number 2), new fiction, series, short shorts, poetry and meta. It also has zine ordering information. My suggestions: Elusive Lover: Alternate Visions (an all AU zine) and Sanctuary Moon.

Chrysopaz and Brandy, while the newest of the list, is brilliant. Morgan [livejournal.com profile] morgan_d has created an entire universe that is consistent and fits with the movies and some of the later pro-novels as well. My favorite here:

The Darth Side. Z.P. Florian was one of the first publishers of Star Wars erotica, and brought us out of the desk drawer and trunk-story phase. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us, and her site shows the ravages of the Alzheimer’s that was affecting her in the last days of maintaining it.

Lady Angel’s Den of Debauchery. Over a dozen fandoms, but more than half the stories are Han/Luke slash. (OK, maybe it’s tacky to rec yourself, but it wouldn’t be a comprehensive list without it) I’m not making suggestions here. Just read and heed warnings.

Luminous Beings. Irene Heron's [livejournal.com profile] irene_heron site which archives all her award-winning fic. "Forever in the branches" is a must-read.

The SWAL archive. Not frequently updated, but has some good older stuff.

Mudd and Angel’s fannish songvid site. “Don’t let the Sun go down on me” is a Han PoV that captures just about every slashy moment the boys have. “I Miss my Friend” is the complimentary Luke PoV vid, that goes through the end of ESB. Larger vids are .avi format, smaller version are .wmv.

There are 5 Elusive Lover Zines, plus the Alternate Visions.
There are several novel-length zines by Cara Loup.
Sanctuary Moon has one issue out, and a second is in editing.
There is the occasional story to be found in a multifandom zine.

Mailing lists at yahoogroups.com
Luke_and_Han--The definitive list for the pairing.
SWAL---dead as a doornail. New blood might revive it.
Sith Chicks--SW adult fic for all tastes. Slash friendly
Swff--Like SWAL but with spam. Needs new blood.
Skywalkerfanfiction--Luke-focus list. Slash accepted, but not encouraged.

And some completely gratuitous screen captures to round it all out.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Date: 2004-11-16 01:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethal-insanity.livejournal.com
I've been waiting for this essay and I was not disappointed. :D That was awesome. I loved it. You did a wonderful job! *applauds*

Date: 2004-11-16 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bitter-crimson.livejournal.com
Pretty pictures all gone. No remote loading. So sad.

Date: 2004-11-16 04:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anglepoiselamp.livejournal.com
How about re-uploading at photobucket.com?

Date: 2004-11-16 03:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skalja.livejournal.com
Very nicely done - I've been a sort of confuzzled Luke/Han shipper without much of a justification in the past, but this helps a lot.

One thing I would point out - I'm not sure the Hoth vs. Endor contrast is entirely fair, since there was much more urgency in the Hoth situation - if Luke didn't come back the chances were pretty good that he was injured or dead, and they were running out of time to find him, whereas on Endor Leia had been last seen holding her own quite well, and though the situation was dangerous there was no "time limit" per se. I think I would characterize Han's rescue dynamic not as caring about Leia less, but trusting more to her own competence. I don't think that makes your argument any weaker - to the contrary; Luke is in no way less competent than Leia (though certainly less confident about it), and Han definitely seems to have some caretaking tendencies throughout the films - he's always a protector, not a protected, except for a few minutes in RotJ.

Date: 2004-11-16 04:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarraceniaceae.livejournal.com
Very nicely done essay. It made me remember just how dissatisfied I was with the Han/Leia dynamic at the end of RotJ (which I haven't seen in years) and although it's not a pairing I'd ever really thought of before, it now seems plausible to me.

...Okay, and the first gratuitous screen grab convinced me. *drools at the pic*

Date: 2004-11-16 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] giftofgab.livejournal.com
Han/Luke was my first (subconcious) slash pairing. You did an excellent job with this essay bringing to light points of both these men that fit so well together. :)

Date: 2004-11-16 05:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apatheia-jane.livejournal.com
great essay!

and I second the idea of rehosting the pics somewhere. I wanna see!

Date: 2004-11-16 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethal-insanity.livejournal.com
OMG! Your icon! Toby and Chris~~~~!!! I hated the final episode of Oz! I could have shanked Tom Fontana & Co. for what they did to Keller. >.< Took me at least three months not cry whenever I watched the reruns. I fumed for days.

Date: 2004-11-19 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apatheia-jane.livejournal.com

I'm an aussie, & we've only got to early S3 so far. (I think I already know most of it, but I dont' want to be reminded, I want to pretend I'm blissfully ignorant!)

If you want oz icons, I've posted other ones I've made at [livejournal.com profile] oo_lookit_shiny. Plus [livejournal.com profile] oz_is_dead has stuff.

Date: 2004-11-19 09:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethal-insanity.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm sorry! *zips lips*

Icons~~~~ *goes to look*

Date: 2004-11-16 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zebra363.livejournal.com
It is Han that provokes five of the seven smiles we see out of him in this movie.

*g* I love empirical, canonical evidence (and people who take the time to compile it).

Nice essay and great screencaps!

Date: 2004-11-16 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aralondwen.livejournal.com
Reading this essay has been like meeting an old friend that hasn't been around for a while. When I discovered slash (At the M_A archive), I rushed off to look for Han/Luke stories, because if I've ever had an OTP, this is it. Elusive Lover was the only archive I found and was very dissapointed when I finished reading everything on it. Maybe I gave up to easily, but being a shy lurker made it hard for me to find my way around fandoms at first. Now thanks to you I've found more fics, and I'm definitely joining the Luke_and_Han list.

Thanks for sharing this and for reminding me why I love this pairing.

Date: 2004-11-16 09:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truestories.livejournal.com
Eee! Eeeeee! Don't forget Tenebris (http://www.tenebris.org/x__art/)!
(Well, okay, she does fan art, not fiction. But her stuff is fabulous and good H/L fanart is in short supply.)

Date: 2004-11-18 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] truestories.livejournal.com
She is one of my favorites, but her website is "the oldest established floating slash site on the Internet" so to speak. I didn't have her most recent URL.

Tell me about it. It took me forty-five minutes to find the new address. (It was worth it, of course, but...)

Date: 2004-11-17 08:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gardendoor.livejournal.com
Wow. Well, I'm impressed; I never saw this pairing AT ALL, and you've just sold me.

*toddles off to read slash*

Date: 2004-11-17 08:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estepheia.livejournal.com
Never saw this pairing in slashy terms. I always felt that Han/Chewie had a certain foundation because that is obviously a very emotional relationship (they act like a married couple).

I find your evidence fascinating, especially your explanation why the Leia/Han relationship that was so promising in TESB suddenly fizzled in RotJ.

Thank you very much.
The background info about Han saving Chewie, could you tell me where that comes from?

Date: 2004-11-17 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] estepheia.livejournal.com
Thank you for the info. :-)

*bookmarks post*

Date: 2004-11-19 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] burningchaos.livejournal.com
Ok I now have to go re-watch my movies because as much of a slash ho as I have become, I never ever though, well lets just say my eyes are now opened . I ship Obi-wan and Qui-Gan, I saw that, but by the time the new ones came out, I was open to the possibilities, yes I must re-watch, because I really like this ship. And Thanks for the story links. This was a wonderful essay.

Date: 2005-04-08 11:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insane-duckfish.livejournal.com
I'm exactly the same. And my brothers are watching footy so I CAN'T go watch again!!! *glares* Stoopid footy.

Date: 2004-11-23 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foreverhooked.livejournal.com
I read this on the mailing list, but didn't get round to commenting then -- but anyway, great essay. :)

*wanders off to look at links*

Date: 2004-11-25 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] duncatra.livejournal.com
This 'ship never even occured to me until I ran across a link to Elusive Lover a year or so ago.

Slash! Is there anywhere it won't go? ;)

Date: 2004-12-03 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jianna.livejournal.com
Oh wow. The fact that any star wars slash NEVER crossed my mind shows how long ago I watched it. I think I will dedicate this weekend to watching them again. cuz WOW. I'm officially fascinated :3

Date: 2005-04-08 11:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] insane-duckfish.livejournal.com
OK, the fact that I had considered the pairing, discarded it and now after reading this decided there might be something in it after all just goes to show how good an essay it was. Or how desperate I am for Star Wars slash, but...

Date: 2005-05-22 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] acaciaonnastik.livejournal.com
I like all the relationships among the heroes and heroine of Star Wars.. no one is ever going to be able to tie me down to a ship, I'm afraid.

As for slashy vids, you should know about http://azonia.net/stargate/miscmv.html . It has My Hero, which I personally like much better than any of the ones on that site- the visual on the whole feeling-Han's-pain bit was breathtaking and ouchy. And Whisper, though it's gen, is the single best Star Wars vid in, like, ever.

Date: 2005-06-09 04:06 am (UTC)
ext_7625: (Default)
From: [identity profile] kaiz.livejournal.com
Oh thank you! What a marvelous manifesto! :-)

Although I did the Leia/Han thing way back when, when I was a teen, like you, I never felt fully satisfied with it. It was as if Leia were a weird sort of consolation prize for Han--for not getting Luke. ::shudder:: And thanks for links to new fic. Squee!!! :-)

Date: 2005-06-09 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sorion.livejournal.com
I know I am horribly late with this comment... But I just got linked here ^-^

Thank you very much for your efforts, I enjoyed reading this immensely. (And you got me a plot bunny stalker... *grumbles* ^_~)

Date: 2005-12-10 04:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shiakuu-hitome.livejournal.com
Excellent essay. I actually haven't gotten into the fandom yet, but I thought [livejournal.com profile] ship_manifesto would be a good place to start. I wasn't dissapointed. Thanks for the great points, and for the links. One comment, though: most of your pictures are dead, which was kind of dissapointing, because I'm all for eyecandy.

Date: 2007-09-09 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] otakugal15.livejournal.com
This is a LATE comment, but wow. I've seen Han/Luke before, but like many people, I was (and still kinda am) a Han/Leia fan. Those two had more chemistry than Anakin/Padme, so it's a little harder to dislike them. But after reading this essay, I've totally changed my mind. I need to go read fanfic now. ^^

The first slash pair I got into for SW was Obi-wan/Anakin. Since I hated the lack of chemistry between Anakin and Padme, I just clinged to Obi-Wan and Anakin. They had a passion and chemistry that caught my eye (especially in the book). And after reading this, I see a little something similar to the Han/Luke pair. ^^


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