Han Solo isn't that cool. Sure, he used to be. When we first meet Solo, he’s kicking it at the cantina with a bug-faced dude. Greedo starts threatening him, so Solo shoots him and walks away. Cold-blooded and awesome. Then George Lucas made him do a jerky dodge and shoot second. Coolness points way down. Then, he goes on to be all sorts of undeniable cool for two movies, culminating in “I know,” probably the coolest romantic line ever. If it ended there, this list wouldn’t exist. Instead, one fuzzy buddy wasn’t enough for him, so he went to Endor and hung out with a bunch of Muppets. Even worse, at the end, he thought Luke actually had a chance with Leia. Carbonite neutered Han, and made him a shadow of the man he used to be. Here are five sci-fi characters who stayed (or hopefully will stay) cool till the end.
Doctor Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. – Indiana Jones
When you were growing up, who did you want to be from Star Wars? You wanted to be Luke. He had the cool special powers and the buzzing lightsaber. Han was just a guy with a gun. You didn’t realize he was cool until later. Indy, on the other hand, was always cool. He’s taken on Nazis, aliens, Thugee, and Ernest Hemingway. When you were a kid, you wanted the hat and the whip. When you grew up, you wanted the adventure, the cool one-liners, and the ability to survive atomic bombs by hiding in a refrigerator. Han Solo isn’t the coolest sci-fi character ever—he’s not even the coolest Harrison Ford sci-fi character ever.
Doctor River Song – Doctor Who
River is, in essence, a British pastiche of Han Solo and Indiana Jones in female form. When we first meet River Song, it’s at the end of her story. She sacrifices herself for the Doctor and Donna, saying that she loved him. The audience’s response: “Who was she?” Over the next two seasons, we learned. Apologies to the Doctor, but she’s the coolest time traveler in existence. Trained as an archaeologist, River routinely broke out of prison to save the universe, save the Doctor, save her parents, and even save herself as a baby. (The time travel gets complicated.) And yes, she even attempts to kill Hitler. Not even Indy can claim that.
Tony Stark – Iron Man/The Avengers
If you’re a genius with all the money in the world, what do you do when terrorists capture you? Do you whine and hope you get rescued? Or do you build an awesome suit to escape? We all know what Tony Stark did. Then Stark routinely punched metal bad guys in the face while spouting the best superhero movie quips ever. After, he frequented exclusive parties and dated a rotating cast of supermodels. Han had the Millennium Falcon. Tony Stark has the suit. The suit is cooler.
Ellen Ripley - Alien
The greatest line in sci-fi history is enough to ensure she’s cooler than Han Solo. Then there’s the fact that not even death or multiple alien attacks can bring her down. She kills one of them on her ship. Then she kills a whole colony of them. Then she kills a prison of them. Then she dies and comes back to kill a few more. She’s so cool that that aliens end up needing her as a mother in order to survive.
Spike Spiegel – Cowboy Bebop
When Spike was a kid, Han Solo was obviously his favorite character Star Wars character. When he grew up, he surpassed Han in coolness. He kicked around a criminal syndicate, until he was expelled and went into bounty hunting. Over the course of Cowboy Bebop, Spike gets into adventures and settles every old score, using the classic mix of guns, spaceships, and Jeet Kune Do. Yes, he knows Kung Fu. Bang.
Captain James Tiberius Kirk – Star Trek
Doctor Ian Malcolm – Jurassic Park
Desmond Hume – Lost
Lando Calrissian - Star Wars
Starbuck - Battlestar Galactica
Did we miss any?