Still from Return of the Jedi (1983). Image is a screengrab via 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm
9. The narrow release of Han Solo
While Jabba and his cronies are not looking that night, Leia sneaks over and releases Han Solo from his carbonized prison. Upon his release, he can’t see anything (due to temporary freeze-induced blindness) and all he hears is this strange voice. This is when we find out that Leia just laid all the groundwork for this plan as a fake bounty hunter, and the reveal is so good. As she cradles the helpless Han in her arms, she removes the mask and reassures him that it is, in fact, the love of his life.
Even though this plan also gets quickly ruined, I think the execution is so great. At this point we’ve seen Leia save both Han and Luke at least once, and it really speaks volumes to her character. She is by no means a romantic accessory; she is an equal to both men and an asset to the Rebel Alliance. She’s proved she’s worth her salt, even though she never set out to prove herself to anyone. Leia’s just doing what she can to help free her people, and the mutual respect she receives is a by-product of her attention on the greater good.
Also, what’s nice about this moment is that, after this scene, Han Solo treats Leia with so much more respect! He stops acting like a teenager with a crush and starts acting like a man with invested interests. Leia did that for him! By saving his life! I hope he was thankful….