Lin and Kang’s first “Fast & Furious” movie was “Tokyo Drift,” the third installment released in 2006. Han serves as the street racing mentor to Sean Boswell (Lucas Black). Kang added that once Lin came on as director, he rewrote the existing script to feature Han.
“Originally the role was named ‘Phoenix,’ and it was an African-American character, but they cast Bow Wow as Twinkie and so they figured, ‘Hey, we have this Phoenix character, and it’s kind of a brooding guy who’s an older brother for everybody,’ and Justin presented it to the studio and said, ‘What if he’s an Asian-American?’ They’re like, ‘Well, how can an Asian-American be cool like this?’ So then he showed them ‘Better Luck Tomorrow.'”
From the beginning, Han became a central character in “Fast & Furious” by accident. He dies two-thirds of the way through “Tokyo Drift” in a car crash. However, the film ends with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) showing up in Tokyo, revealing he knew Han and challenging Sean to a race. This left a back door open for Han to show up in future “Fast” films — which, by extension, became “Tokyo Drift” prequels.
The timeline finally caught up in the post-credits scene for “Fast & Furious 6,” which revealed Han was deliberately killed by Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). His murder then became the driving force of “Furious 7.” Then, in one of the most soap opera twists in “Fast” yet, Han showed up alive in “F9” (which also marked Lin’s return after a hiatus on 7 and 8) and turned out to have faked his death.