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Six Reasons We Know Han Solo DID Shoot First [Counterpoint]

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 against Lucas on this one. Here are six reasons why.

1) Han Shooting First is Essential to His Character - First, let's start with the original scene. Greedo comes to Han in the Tattooine cantina, and threatens him. Han Solo fires a shot, Greedo dies, end of scene. It's the perfect statement on his anti-hero status at the beginning of the movie, where Han would shoot someone before they get a chance to shoot him. That gives his character an arc at the end, where he sacrifices himself to help Luke destroy the Death Star and save the Galaxy. Without that singular act, Han becomes a good guy from the very beginning, just shooting in self-defense.

2) Greedo Can Shoot - By having it that Greedo shoots first, we have to believe that Greedo is incapable of hitting Han Solo literally at point-blank range. Why would Jabba hire someone so incredibly inept to go after Han? It takes away from Greedo as an actual threat. Han might as well have just gotten up and walked away, since Greedo couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. No, Greedo was an experienced bounty hunter who was able to track Han down from across the Galaxy. One would think he'd be able to seal the deal.

3) The Original Movie Shows Han Shooting First - The biggest reason we know Han shot first is that we've all seen the original movie and we have two eyes. While Lucas recently claims we just saw it wrong, in the original version, Han clearly shoots first. In fact, the original workprint of the scene shows Han shooting first. There's simply no support for the idea that the change is simply a correction of a misunderstanding. Lucas is changing history.

4) It Took a Lot of Work - Having Greedo shoot first took a lot of work to appear plausible, and still doesn't look right. In the original change in 1997, Greedo's shot goes off wildly to hit the wall next to Han, but never even coming close. Then they re-did it in 2004 so that Greedo is aiming for Han's head, and they digitally alter Han Solo so that he leans out of the way. Then they changed it again in the 2012 Blu-Ray release by tightening the gap between shots to try to fix the weird timing of Greedo firing, then Han sitting there casually for a few seconds before firing. And it still doesn't work.

5) George Lucas is a Liar - The latest turn in this fiasco is Lucas trying to say that we never saw Han shoot first. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said the following:
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.

Clearly, this is incorrect, given the acrobatics LucasArts had to go through to make the scene work with Greedo shooting first. There's no "wider shot," and the laser blasts are all over the place.

6) Everything Else Shows Han Shooting First - Funny thing about Star Wars is that a lot of other people jumped onto the bandwagon to adapt it into other mediums, and we assume they all had the approval of Lucas. So what do they show? The original novelization of Star Wars describes Han Solo shooting first. The Marvel comic adaptation of New Hope shows Han shooting first.

So Han shot first. What really happened is that Lucas grew uncomfortable with the cold-blooded nature of the character he created, and decided to "fix" it. The problem is that the change doesn't work. Put it back. For the opposite side of the argument, read my brother's blog post here called: Six Reasons We Know Han Solo Did NOT Shoot First.

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

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  1. All valid points! Yes, he did shoot first. And that first point really reveals the fact that Lucas is not the best writer in the world because he messed with the character arc.
    I'm glad still I have the original theatrical versions on VHS.

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