‘Fast 9’ brings a beloved character back from the dead. The explanation opens up the door for another possible return.

Sung Kang in 'Fast 9' aka 'F9'
After ‘dying’ years ago in the ‘Fast Saga,’ Sung Kang returns, very much alive, in ‘F9’ as Han. Universal Pictures
  • Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for “Fast 9,” aka “F9.”
  • Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang) returns after being “killed off” in 2006’s “Tokyo Drift.”
  • The explanation leaves a bit to be desired, but the director may have had it in mind for years.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ever since the Fast Saga revealed in a January 2020 trailer that Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang) was alive and not “killed” (as previously thought) at the end of 2006’s “Tokyo Drift,” fans have wondered how the character survived what appeared to be certain death.

With the release of “F9,” we finally have an answer.

For longtime fans, it may not be the most satisfying explanation because of its simplicity, but at least Han’s back in the mix. His return also opens up the possibility for other characters (like Han’s girlfriend Gisele) to potentially return in the future.

If you need a refresher on when we last saw Han in the franchise, how he survived a fiery crash, and what his return means for the saga, we have you covered.

How Han was ‘killed’ – and how his death is key to understanding the ‘Fast Saga’ viewing order

Han (Sung Kang) driving in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift before he's 'killed'
Han moments before Deckard Shaw changes his life in ‘The Fast Saga.’ Universal Pictures

At the end of 2006’s “Tokyo Drift,” Han was presumed dead after his Mazda RX7 was hit by a Mercedes and his car subsequently exploded in a fiery rage.

Han then appeared in the next three “Fast and Furious” films alive, confusing fans.

It wasn’t until the end of the sixth film, 2013’s “Fast 6,” that fans learned the events of “Tokyo Drift” take place after the 2013 film, altering the timeline of how to binge the saga.

In a “Fast 6” end-credits scene, it’s revealed that Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) was the driver of the Mercedes that hit Han. He traveled to Japan in order to get revenge on Han for putting his little brother, Owen Shaw (the villain of “Fast 6”), into a coma.

The moment Deckard Shaw 'kills' Han in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift / Fast 6
Justin Lin changed the mythology of the ‘Fast’ franchise when he asked Jason Statham to join the cast of ‘Fast 6.’ This is the moment when Statham became prime enemy number one to the ‘Fast’ fam until ‘F8.’ Universal Pictures

Han’s death looked pretty convincing. Deckard walked right up to Han, trapped in the driver’s seat of his upside-down vehicle, dropped Dom’s iconic necklace by his face, and walked away as fans watched the car blow up.

If it’s confusing, you can watch the two scenes blended together here.

How Han survived the car explosion at the end of ‘Tokyo Drift’

Kurt Russell as Mr. Nobody in 'The Fate of the Furious.'
Kurt Russell is the key to Han’s return in ‘F9.’ Universal Pictures

In “Fast 9,” Han’s survival is succinctly explained in a short flashback sequence to the events of the 2006 and 2013 films.

When we thought Han was burning up in the RX7, he was actually not far off with Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell).

The government agent first introduced in “Furious 7,” after Han’s “death,” was responsible for faking Han’s death, “F9” reveals.

But why?

It turns out Mr. Nobody was friends with Han’s former girlfriend, Gisele (Gal Gadot). After her death in “Fast 6,” the currently nameless Mr. Nobody poached Han to work for him. Han faked his death and never alerted Dom or his friends about his whereabouts in order to steal a device (Project Aries) that’s at the center of “F9.” Instead, Han stumbled upon a young girl, Elle, connected to the device and had to protect her for the safety of the world. (We can’t make this up.)

“My death became the best way to stay alive,” Han tells Dom and the group when explaining his absence.

The explanation for Han’s reappearance leaves a bit to be desired

From left: Earl (Jason Tobin), Sean (Lucas Black), and Twinkie (Shad 'Bow Wow' Moss) in 'F9.'
We were convinced that these guys were going to be involved in Han’s return. We’re happy to see them anyway. Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures

After waiting over a year since the trailer reveal to learn how Han survived, “F9” simply telling fans that he actually wasn’t in the car is a bit tough to believe.

Han’s death has been shown three times in the “Fast Saga” (at the end of both “Tokyo Drift” and “Fast 6” and at the start of 2015’s “Furious 7”), making it look pretty convincing.

Sean Boswell Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift
Sean Boswell was all of us reacting to Han’s death. Universal Pictures

It would have made more sense to tie the return of Sean (Lucas Black) and Twinkie (Bow Wow) to Han’s absence. It would have made their return a little more meaningful. Instead, they’re relegated to working on a car with rockets strapped to it in order to send a car into space.

That said, since this is a movie where we’re sending characters into orbit, we’re going to let it go because fans have been waiting for Han to get justice for years.

This sounds a bit like fan-fiction – are they just making this up as they go?

Sung Kang in 'Fast 9' aka 'F9'
Han left the franchise when director Justin Lin left. Now that he’s back in the fold, he’s back. Universal Pictures

Though it may feel that way, there’s evidence director Justin Lin planned to bring Han back into the fold for years.

Lin told Insider he’s been talking about this final trilogy of the “Fast Saga” with star Vin Diesel for “the last nine or so years.

Lin’s timeline brings you back to 2012, before the release of 2013’s “Fast 6,” where the saga was revamped to show that Deckard killed Han.

On the “Fast 6” commentary when Deckard “kills” Han, Lin says the following:

“I was on this road trip and Sung was there. We were at an Arby’s or something and these kids saw him… and they ran up to him. They were talking about Han and ‘Fast and Furious.’ At that moment, I felt like, ‘OK, you know what? Everything that I was talking to Vin about, it could come true if Han can come back because that would create a dialogue for the mythology that we want to build.'”

When signing on for “Fast 6,” Lin told Universal Pictures he wanted to bring Han back in that film. When they asked why he wanted to bring back a dead character he said, “Watch. This is going to create discourse and that’s what’s good for mythology.” And they went for it.

He may not have had it all figured out then, but it certainly felt like Lin considered the opportunity to bring Han back into the fold at some point after witnessing his popularity.

If Han’s alive, could Gisele be, too? Maybe!

Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar in 'Fast and Furious 6.'
Give Han the justice he deserves by reuniting him with Gisele so they can visit Tokyo. Universal Pictures

If Mr. Nobody faked Han’s death, could he have faked Gisele’s death as well? It’s possible.

Would he really hide that from Han? Mr. Nobody hid Han’s whereabouts from Dom and his group for two movies.

It does seem strange that Mr. Nobody would go to Han after Gisele’s death if she was actually alive, but we don’t know much about him or his motives. We don’t even know his real name! In his defense, Mr. Nobody has been a loyal ally to Dom and his group, but as an ex-CIA member, there’s always the chance he could be playing both sides. We still don’t know the identity of the mystery voice pulling the strings in 2019’s “Hobbs & Shaw.”

As the “Fast Saga” increasingly plays out like a telenovela where people come back from the dead and long-lost siblings appear, who’s to say Gisele can’t come back as well? We never saw her body.

If Owen Shaw survived being thrown off a plane at the end of “Fast 6,” Roman and Tej can go to space, and Han survived a car explosion, anything seems possible.

“Fast” screenwriter Chris Morgan has promised that “Justice for Han” is coming. Getting reunited with Gisele after spending years believing she was killed sounds like it would be the ultimate justice for Han and for the Fast Family. If Deckard Shaw can make that happen after doing wrong by Han, all the better.