[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for F9.]
The very first trailer for F9, released roughly 15 years ago (see: January 2020), shocked Fast & Furious fans by revealing Han Lue (Sung Kang) was alive and well, despite getting blown to pieces back in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Kang’s 2006 performance as the car-drifting mechanic was so charismatic it altered time itself within the Fast franchise, as the chronology shifted backward to include Han in the next three installments. But even though fans got a little more time with the character, we still knew it was all leading to that fateful explosion—revealed, eventually, to be the work of Jason Statham‘s Deckard Shaw—that costs Han his life. Or so we thought! In the lead-up to F9, the question suddenly became what complex, ridiculous, reality-altering twist is this movie going to pull to explain how the death we saw happen did not, in fact, happen?
The answer is…the movie kind of doesn’t explain anything, while also explaining a lot! That’s confusing. Let’s discuss what we learn in a mid-movie flashback:
The plot of F9 revolves around a vaguely menacing MacGuffin known as Project Aries, a device so dangerous it was split into two pieces and remains inactive without a special key. Looking to secure the device, shadowy all-powerful operative Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) contracted Han—who he found through his relationship with former associate Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot)—to secure Aries from its handlers in Tokyo. Not only does Han discover them murdered, but also the “key” to Aries resides in the DNA of their daughter, Elle (Anna Sawai), who Han takes under his wing. Knowing one of his agents has gone rogue (John Cena‘s Jakob Toretto), Mr. Nobody uses the super handy arrival of Deckard Shaw to fake Han’s death, allowing him, Elle, and the final piece of the Aries device to go into hiding. We see Han inside his car from Tokyo Drift moments away from death, and then…he is not in the car, somehow. “Nice magic trick,” Han tells Mr. Nobody from a safe distance.
“I’ve done better,” Nobody responds, and that’s all, folks!
On one hand, it is a bit of a bummer how hard F9 handwaves past Han’s return, getting rid of a few year’s worth of emotional investment without really earning it. On the other hand…come on. Come onnnnnnnn. This exact level of explanation for bringing back a member of Da Fambly(TM) is quintessential Fast & Furious. This franchise is not built on logic, or physics, or classic A-to-B story structure, it is driven by Good Vibes Only. The number one goal of each successive Fast film, besides maybe making Vin Diesel look as tall as Dwayne Johnson, is to catapult positive energy to as big and broad a global audience as possible. F9 is a movie where Roman (Tyrese Gibson) can wonder if all the main characters are invulnerable and, instead of that being foreshadowing, ends up just kind of being true. Where the main antagonist is mainly looking to gain control of the world’s nuclear arsenal because his big brother did not hug him enough as a teenager. Where a cast member who died in real life still arrives just in time to say grace at a lovely family dinner. F9 didn’t earn Mr. Nobody’s “magic trick,” but Fast & Furious itself earned a bit of leeway when it comes to criticizing what is and isn’t “realistic” in this juiced-up soap opera universe. In many ways, that is incredibly stupid and unfair to other films that don’t get the same amount of slack. In many other, more important ways, The Fast & Furious saga is the only franchise that matters and Han is back, motherf*ckers.
As for #JusticeForHan, well, it looks like we’ll have to wait a bit. The extreme reaction to Han’s death was secondary only to what happened after Deckard Shaw—who, again, straight-up murdered this fan-favorite character—was later redeemed, excepted into the Fast family, and given his own jaunty spinoff movie alongside Dwayne Johnson‘s Luke Hobbs. F9 doesn’t really deal with the ramifications of Han’s beef with Shaw, but a post-credits scene hints that justice will be a centerpiece of F10 and F11, the two-parter set to bring this franchise to a close.
The tour includes the Tumbler from ‘The Dark Knight,’ the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s original ‘Batman,’ and tons of DC costumes.
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