There are a lot of surprises in the first trailer for F9, the ninth installment in the Fast & Furious series. There’s the fact that John Cena is playing Vin Diesel’s little brother, there’s Charlize Theron’s return as the villain Cipher, and Jordana Brewster rejoins the crew as Mia Toretto. But the biggest surprise is one fans have been clamoring for.
The figure at the end of the trailer is none other than Han Seoul-oh (Sung Kang).
Longtime fans will remember Han as part of Dominic Toretto’s crew, as well as his death at the end of the third movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. During press rounds for the spinoff film Hobbs & Shaw, screenwriter-producer Chris Morgan said that the Fast & Furious timeline, which includes several flashback features, ended up that way because they wanted to keep Han around.
When the end of Furious 6 revealed that Han’s death — in a car crash and the ensuing explosion — was actually the work of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the villain’s turn into one of the franchise’s heroes became a point of contention. He murdered Han! Were we really going to let him get away with it?
“There is a great arc that is happening,” Morgan said, “And that arc is: Deckard Shaw and justice for Han. I love that people are calling for it. [...] There’s a touch to it in [Hobbs & Shaw], a line where Deckard says right before the battle in Samoa, ‘There’s things that I have to make amends for.’ That was specifically written because he is thinking of Han.”
There’s no question that the resolution is happening in part because of fan reactions, as the hashtag #JusticeForHan blew up on social media immediately after Furious 6.
“At first it was easy to dismiss it,” Kang tells the LA Times. “I wondered, does the audience really have a voice?” As it turns out, yes — F9 director Justin Lin was even spotted wearing a “Justice for Han” shirt on set.
As for just how Han’s return is being handled, Kang says, “We know who and what Han is, and we’re older now. This Han is older. The things that [director Justin Lin and I] learned as men in our personal lives, I hope it can transcend on-screen.”
The details as to how Han survived the crash, and why he’s now chosen to return, however, remain under lock and key.