2/22/2012

For all the arguments and debate about the Star Wars changes, one change is clearly right: Han Solo didn't shoot first.

Of all the changes to the Star Wars films, the one that gets cited most often is having Greedo shoot at Han Solo first. It seems ridiculous.

We all saw Han shoot Greedo, and it was pretty cool really. Then, in the 1997 "Special Edition," effects were added to make it seem as if Greedo shot at Solo and he shot back.

If you've never seen it, or don't remember it, you can watch the video comparison below.



Fans were outraged and insisted it's wrong. There's a whole Wikipedia article devoted to the topic.

Unfortunately, the evidence sides with Lucas on this one. Because of Lucas, the script, Han Solo's personality, Jabba's appearance, self-defense laws and what we know about Greedo, we know Solo didn't shoot first.

1. George Lucas Said So

In an interview with Hollywood Reporter he explained the reason he changed it to Greedo shooting first.
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 [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] 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.
Now, of course, he may be making it up. But, he makes some good points. Plus, he write the film. He would know best.

2. The Script is Vague

The script dated 1976 describes the scene this way
HAN: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?
Han Solo slowly reaches for his gun under the table.
GREEDO: You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship.
HAN: Over my dead body.
GREEDO: That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time.
HAN: Yes, I'll bet you have.
Suddenly the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of light. Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the other patron look on in bemused amazement. Han gets up and starts out of the cantina, flipping the bartender some coins as he leaves.
It's not really clear who shot first. It just says Greedo gets shot. In the "blinding flash of light" and smoke Greedo could have shot at Solo first.

3. Han Solo's Not a Murderer

Lucas describes Han Solo as cold-blooded murderer if he shot Greedo first. This is true. Han never showed a willingness to shoot someone without provocation. Think how many times he ambushed storm troopers instead of just picking them off with head shots "Quake" style. When he chased the troopers down the hallway of the Death Star he could have just shot them in the back. But he didn't. Why not? Because despite all Han's flaws he wasn't a killer.

4. He Didnt Kill Jabba the Hutt

Some say his motivation to kill Greedo came from the threat of his being taken to Jabba the Hutt. If this were true then in the added scene where Han meets Jabba in the hanger bay he should have immediately shot him dead. Jabba obviously wasn't planning to kill Han right away or he would have been dead. He was defenseless and an easy target. That means Jabba had no plans to kill him, making the threat of self defense meaningless. It also means Han wasn't that scared of Jabba in the first place. He did step on his tail.

5. It Wasn't Self Defense

I'm not a lawyer, but threre's the concept of "pre-emptive self-defense." That means someone can kill someone if they are in imminent threat of bodily harm or death. Was Han in immediate danger? Not really. True, Greedo had a gun pointed at him. Was he threatening to kill Han? No. He was threatening to take him to Jabba or extort money from him. The most threatening thing Greedo said was in response to Han saying, "Over my dead body" with "That's the idea." If Greedo hadn't shot first, Han didn't shoot Greedo in self-defense. It would have been murder.

6. Greedo Was a Great Bounty Hunter

Traditionally, fans think of Greedo as a moron. After all, he gets rather unceremoniously shot by Solo. In the only scene Greedo appears we can actually learn something impressive about him. He's a great tracker. Solo is a master smuggler hiding on a backwater planet. Yet, Greedo tracked him down and got the drop on him. Before the special edition he looked like a moron. Afterwards, with him shooting first, he looks like a master bounty hunter.

I'm siding with Lucas on this one. It's a pretty big change, but some of Lucas changes make sense.

For the opposite side of the argument, read my brother's blog post here called: Six Reasons Why We Know Han Solo DID Shoot First.

What do you think? Who do you think shot first? Does it matter?

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4 comments:

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

For consistency of character, especially now that you have pointed it out, I will side with you. The truth is that Han wasn't a murderer. Although if he had shot first, I would have thought of him as more of a badass and it would make a stronger impression on me of the type of outlaw he is.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I thought it was cool too till Lucas pointed it out. He's still cool in my book. Definitely an outlaw.

Filmaholics anon said...

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."- Joseph Goebbels

I saw the first film, in the cinema, when it was first released in the cinema in the UK and I can tell you, Mr Lying Lucas, Han shoots first.

It made him a much more intriguing and unpredictable character than the usual saintly American film hero and made his decisions far more dynamic. You could really believe he would walk away from the war once he got paid and his return more thrilling.

If he's so politically correct as to wait for Greedo to shoot first he's an idiot.

If Greedo shot first, then he's one lousy shot if he can't hit a 6 foot tall stationary target sitting 4 feet in front of him.

It also means that Han has sluggish reflexes and he's only alive because of luck and Greedo's horrible aim.

I don't think Han Solo taking the first shot makes him a cold-blooded killer. It's clear that Greedo is going to either take him in or just shoot Solo himself, so in that matter it's just simple self-defense

Maurice Mitchell said...

Thanks for commenting Filmaholics Anon. You make some excellent points.

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