If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re surely aware of the tinkering George Lucas has done with immortal films, most famously in the original Star Wars (1977), during which the confrontation between Han Solo and Greedo was modified.
In the original version of the scene, Han is confronted by Greedo, cornered with a gun pointed at his chest, Han shoots the bounty hunter with his blaster, which is concealed under the table. In the new version of the scene, Greedo seems to shoot first, miss, and then Han shoots an instant later and kills Greedo. As the movie has been released again and again theatrically, on VHS, DVD and Blu Ray, the timing has been tinkered with, but it’s always the same, Geedo shoots slightly before Han and misses while Han’s blaster bolt finds its mark.
This has become a phenomenon I don’t need to explain, but I will, anyway. The t-shirt options alone that declare “Han Shot First” is enough to blow your mind, and the endless articles, blog posts and complaining from fan boys like myself is endless.
In a new twist, George Lucas recently said:
“The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.”
I guess this means that the original version of the film didn’t include a wide shot during which Greedo did fire his weapon, contrary to what I grew up with. As the director, I don’t see how he’d let this happen, but… there you go. And he fired several editors… ugh. I’m not going to do this. The man is crazy, so I’ll let that part go. What I will argue against is the idea of Greedo firing in the first place. Why would he do that? Greedo said several things that lead me to believe that he had no other plans besides turning Han over to Jabba the Hut.
“Going somewhere, Solo?”
Instead of saying, “Going somewhere, Solo?” Greedo could have let his blaster do the talking. If he planned to kill him, why not just shoot him and be done with it? Why get his attention and chat first? It’s not like Greedo is a James Bond villain.
“Jabba’s put a price on your head so large every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I’m lucky I found you first.”
So… sounds like Greedo plans to turn Han over into Jabba for the bounty.
“You can tell that to Jabba. If you’re lucky, he’ll only take your ship.”
“Over my dead body.”
“That’s the idea.”
Still sounds like Greedo plans to take Han to Jabba - this gives Han a solid motive to kill Greedo, because Greedo has made it clear that Jabba plans to kill him and take his ship… when he says that. Jabba the Hut always gave me the impression that he’s a “Show me the body!” kind of gangster, not to mention the fact that he seems to enjoy killing those who cross him in bizarre ways (see Return of the Jedi and the weird monster he keeps under his main audience chamber floor and when he goes out of his way to leave his palace, expose himself to danger just to throw a bunch of nobodies in the Sarlac Pitt) and Greedo’s a little guy; I doubt he could lift Harrison Ford.
We’ve all been arguing, “Han Shot First!” and this is not a terrible argument, but I think we should change course to “Greedo Never Fired!” Greedo shooting Han in the cantina just doesn’t make any logical sense, never mind any changes it makes to Han’s character.