LEIA: Darth Vader, only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this. When they hear you've attacked a diplomatic— VADER: Don't act so surprised, your highness. You weren't on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you. LEIA: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan. VADER: You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor. Take her away!
Despite taking the role of the damsel in distress, Leia displays her courage right away. She knows Vader could kill her because he works outside the law, yet she stands her ground against the hulking mass of mechanical death. You go, girl!
LUKE: No. It's all right, but I think we'd better go. R2: Bleep, blop, blip. LUKE: What's wrong with him now? C-3PO: There are several creatures approaching from the southeast. LUKE: Sand People, or worse. Come on, let's go have a look. Come on!
No, don't go! Have you never seen a movie? Luke starts the film with an adventurous spirit but it manifests as youthful recklessness. His courage results in misplaced action, and he'll need to grow into it as the film progresses.
GRAND MOFF TARKIN: The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the old Republic have been swept away. IMPERIAL COMMANDER: That's impossible. How will the emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy? TARKIN: The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line—fear of this battle station.
Tarkin uses the Death Star like a courage siphon, slurping up the will to resist the Empire and replacing it with fear. Through fear, the regional governors will do what he wants. If it weren't for those pesky Rebels and their abundance of courage, his job would be cake.
LUKE: They're going to execute her. Look, a few minutes ago, you said you didn't want to just wait here to be captured. Now all you want to do is stay? HAN: Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind. LUKE: But they're gonna kill her! HAN: Better her than me. LUKE: She's rich. HAN: Rich? LUKE: Mm-hmm. Rich, powerful. Listen if you were to rescue her, the reward would be— HAN: What? LUKE: Well, more wealth than you can imagine. HAN: I don't know. I can imagine quite a bit.
Han is a courageous guy. Granted, he needs a motivational paycheck to get him going—who amongst us doesn't sometimes?—but his courage allows him to stand up to the Empire where others won't.
LUKE: Come on. Why don't you take a look around? You know what's about to happen, what they're up against. They could use a good pilot like you. You're turning your back on them. HAN: What good's a reward if you ain't around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station ain't my idea of courage. It's more like… suicide. LUKE: All right. Take care of yourself, Han. I guess that's what you're best at, isn't it?
Han's self-centered priorities get the better of him, and he decides that attacking the Death Star head-on might tap his courage reserves.
WEDGE: I'm hit! I can't stay with you! LUKE: Get clear, Wedge. You can't do any more good back there. WEDGE: Sorry. DARTH VADER: Let him go. Stay on the leader.
Three cheers for the courage of the Rebels in this film. Like most characters who oppose the Empire, they've got courage in spades as evidenced by their willingness to assault the Death Star. Han was right; it was a suicide mission since only Wedge and Luke survive, but they went anyway.
HAN: You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!
Han has the mark of a true hero after all. Finding his courage, he returns to help Luke at the last second.