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Han shot first

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Events, opinions, and individuals described in this article are neither present in any authorized source nor claimed to occur in the Star Wars universe.

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Kelly and George

George Lucas wearing a "Han shot first" T-shirt

"I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon. As opposed to shooting second."
Han Solo[src]

To say "Han shot first" is to refer, often with distaste, to George Lucas's changes to the original trilogy. Often cited by film purists, this phrase more specifically refers to a change made to the A New Hope Special Edition, in the scene involving the characters Han Solo and Greedo in the cantina. In the original version, after Greedo says, "I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time" (talking about killing Han), Han replies "Yes, I bet you have" and shoots Greedo under the table while Greedo was pointing a blaster at him. (The phrase "Han shot first" is thus misleading, since only Han shoots in the original version.) In the Special Edition, Greedo shoots at Han and misses, without explanation, from point blank range, and then Han shoots him. Later, it was altered again to have Han and Greedo shooting at almost the same time (though Greedo still shoots first), with Han dodging out of the way of Greedo's shot. With such a short time between each shot, it could be assumed that Han was already planning to shoot Greedo, rather than reacting to Greedo's shot.

The principal objection from critics seems to be that the change dilutes and compromises Han's rebellious and ruthless nature. The change is felt to detract from Han's antiheroic qualities, and diminishes the character's growth and development over the story from a Machiavellian smuggler who cares only about himself (and his co-pilot Chewbacca) into a committed member of the Rebel Alliance fighting to bring freedom to the galaxy, as his shot is clearly in self-defense.

A secondary objection considers the improbability that the character Greedo would miss at that range if he fired deliberately. Thus, his gun must have discharged accidentally, a rather unromantic death.

This retroactive sanitizing was loosely paralleled in a 2002 DVD version of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, in which the firearms held by police officers in the original 1982 film were digitally altered to two-way radios.

Although fan criticism of "Greedo shot first" is generally considered to be a legitimate point of view, the incident also provided early inspiration (and ongoing ammunition) for those who engage in verbal attacks on George Lucas, a practice known as Lucas bashing.

The scene in various mediaEdit

Greedo shoots first

Greedo's big miss in the 2004 DVD version of A New Hope

In the scriptsEdit

The January 15, 1976 script portrays the scene thus:

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 patrons look on in bemused amazement. Han gets up and starts out of the cantina, flipping the bartender some coins as he leaves.

The March 15 version of the script is identical in this scene except that Greedo is referred to simply as "Alien."

In the novelizationEdit

In the novelization, this scene is vague. The book only says that "light and noise filled the little corner of the cantina"; it never specifies who shot first.

In the comicEdit

Greedo spoke Basic in the second issue of Marvel's comic adaptation. Han fired after Greedo threatened to kill him, but before Greedo could finish his next sentence.

Star Wars: Behind the MagicEdit

One of the deleted scenes included in this CD-ROM is an alternate take of the cantina sequence, including the encounter between Greedo and Han. It is a black-and-white work print that lacks any added music or sound effects. Greedo speaks English with a Received Pronunciation accent, speaking his original lines as in the 1976 script. Han shoots him before he can fire a shot.

Behind the Magic plays this earlier cantina sequence side by side for comparison with the modified "Special Edition" version of the same scene from 1997, making it clear that Greedo shooting was added later.

In new canonEdit

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy contains the first retelling of this scene released following the decision to discontinue the Expanded Universe in favor of a new canon continuity. As described in the novel, Solo reaches for his blaster and slides it from the holster under the table as he is telling Greedo that he doesn't have the money with him. When Solo states "Over my dead body!," Greedo draws his own blaster, points it at Han's heart and replies, "That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time." Solo replies, "Yeah. I'll bet you have." The narration then says that "Greedo disappeared in a blinding flash of white light as Han pulled the trigger. The thump as Greedo's body slumped onto the table made the other cantina patrons look over." There is no mention of Greedo having fired a shot.[1] When asked regarding the matter in an interview slightly before the release of the title, the book's author, Alexandra Bracken, replied "Han, of course!"[2]

However, Star Wars: The Original Trilogy: A Graphic Novel, a 2016 graphic novelization of the films, depicts the scene as it's presented in the 2004 DVD version, with the two characters shooting at approximately the same time and Greedo's shot missing far wide and up.

George Lucas weighs inEdit

In a February 9, 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, George Lucas indicated that Greedo fired first, even in the original film, and pointed out that the exchange of blaster fire between Han Solo and Greedo was shot in close-up which made the scene ambiguous. This ambiguity, along with viewers' desire for Han Solo to be a cold-blooded killer, caused the audience to draw the wrong conclusions; that is, they only thought Han shot first. Wide shots he added in later releases of the film served to make the actual results of the encounter more obvious.[3] The suggestion, coming several years after the first occurrence of the alleged "change," appears to contradict the film's script and other evidence suggesting that Greedo originally did not fire at Han.[4][5]

Repercussions in Star Wars mediaEdit

  • Han said that he prefers shooting first, "as opposed to shooting second," in the novel Han Solo at Stars' End, which was published nearly seventeen years before the Special Editions were made.
  • In the game Star Wars: Battlefront II it is possible, while playing as Solo, to hear the enemy troops exclaim, "It's Solo, and he's shooting first—that's not fair!"
  • At the end of the LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick mini-movie Greedo can be seen throwing darts in the cantina and, despite standing no more than two feet away, has missed the board with at least five darts, a possible tongue-in-cheek explanation for the unlikeliness of Greedo missing Han.
  • Aaron Allston, by way of his novel Legacy of the Force: Betrayal, has chimed in on the subject with a reference of his own. After a gun battle, when queried as to the status of her husband, Leia replies that he is fine. "Han shot first," she glibly explains.
  • Greedo appears as a minor character in the board game Star Wars: Epic Duels. His power attack is a card labeled "Desperate Shot": a decently powerful attack, but if it does not kill the target, then Greedo is immediately killed instead. It is the only card where an attacker's miss is automatically fatal.
  • In the 2012 mobile game Angry Birds Star Wars, one of the levels takes place on Tatooine. During an introductory slideshow in the Mos Eisly Cantina, Greedo spies on Solo, Chewbacca, Skywalker and Kenobi from a window. Solo then blasts Greedo.[6]
Im Han Solo - Han Shot First

Calrissian performing the "Han Shot First" dance move in Kinect Star Wars

  • In the 2012 game Kinect Star Wars, one of the dance moves that can be performed by Solo, as well as Lando Calrissian, during the song "I'm Han Solo" is called "Han Shot First."
  • The Timothy Zahn novel Scoundrels features a scene very similar to the interaction between Greedo and Han, with another bounty hunter in Greedo's place. Han does not shoot first, and the shot is missed due to intervention from Chewbacca.
  • In William Shakespeare's Star Wars, a non-canon retelling of the story of the original film in the style of William Shakespeare, the stage directions for the play state simply "They shoot, Greedo dies." This is then followed by Solo apologizing to the innkeeper and then stating as an aside: "And whether I shot first, I'll ne'er confess!" The audio edition of William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return includes a supposed conversation between Shakespeare and author Ian Doescher in which Shakespeare tells Doescher that he should have stated plainly that Han shot first. When asked about the matter directly for an "About the Author" for the series' official website, Doescher stated, "Han Solo, says me and every other true fan out there."[7]
  • In the 2015 EA Star Wars Battlefront Companion mobile game Base Command, the Han Solo hero unit has the First Strike perk, where he "Fires first in combat."

Other mentionsEdit

  • The phrase has been enshrined as a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Han Shot First." The shirt seller is Scott Kurtz, author of the webcomic PvP. Purportedly, the product advertises the wearer's geek credentials and disagreement with Lucas' modification. The PvP strip shows Kurtz wearing the T-shirt when he breaks the fourth wall.
  • In the 2001 movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Ben Affleck refers to the creation of a Jay and Silent Bob movie as "the worst idea since Greedo shooting first."
  • In the 2005 movie Serenity, the main character, Malcolm Reynolds, shoots no less than three unarmed people, one of whom was even surrendering to him. Director Joss Whedon stated in the audio commentary that it was in part "a reaction to the Greedo incident in the revised Star Wars."
  • In the 2006 movie Clerks II, Jason Lee makes a reference to clerks Randal and Dante wasting their time "fighting over who shot first, Han or Greedo."
  • The fourth season of the TV show House, M.D. opens with a young man trying to convince his girlfriend to go with him to a screening of the original theatrical version of A New Hope. To make it more appealing, he points out that it is the "pre-Lucasized version" and that there is "no Greedo shooting crap."
  • In the RiffTrax for Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is set upon by beggars, causing Bill Corbett to riff "Oh, great. Fanboys. Look, I told you, I don't give a damn who shot first!"
  • On the website "How It Should Have Ended.com" in a parody of The Empire Strikes Back an add-on at the end of the clip shows Han, Chewie, Lando, Leia, and Luke open a door where Darth Vader is standing on the other side. Han shoots Vader three times and Vader blocks the shots and then uses the Force to grab Han's gun. Vader looking confused exclaims, "Hey! You, you shot...first." To which Han replies, "Yeah... Why wouldn't I?" Vader finishes the scene with "I, uh... I don't know the answer to that."
  • In the TV show MythBusters, Grant and Tory, while making gunpowder for the "Bamboo Bazooka" myth, talk about Han shooting first or not. Tory said that Han did shoot first.
  • In the Angry Video Game Nerd episode 94:Nintendo Days Revisited, the Angry Video Game Nerd makes a joke regarding this subject.
  • The "Han Shot First" episode of the Pajamas Media show Afterburner focused on this controversy. Bill Whittle, the host, explained how negative the change was, and used some of George Lucas' quotes on the matter to demonstrate as much, as well as the current situation in Hollywood. At the time the episode aired, George Lucas had just stated his controversial reasons for the change in The Hollywood Reporter newsletter (see above). On an unrelated note, Whittle in the same episode referenced George Lucas' admission that he based the Ewoks on the Viet Cong, and pointed out the implication that the Galactic Empire was based on America.
  • In the "Trilogy Time" episode of season 7 of How I Met Your Mother, Barney whispers to Ted's baby daughter, whom Ted is holding, that Han shot first, after the episode depicted the characters watching the Star Wars original trilogy over a number of years.
  • The season 5 episode of Castle titled "The Final Frontier" features a character who makes toy laser guns and wears a "Han shot first" T-shirt.

HanShootsFirst.orgEdit

In 2004, HanShootsFirst.org started as a rant/petition site for the release of an unadulterated, non-revisionist, theatrical release of Star Wars, their stated mission being "Preservation of a Star Wars that Doesn't Suck."

Over the course of two years, Han Shoots First became the de-facto website for the "Greedo incident." Han Shoots First enjoyed exposure from Forbes Magazine and Movies.com, as well as receiving much fandom acclaim.

In 2006, The Star Wars Fan Bois released HanShootsFirst.org 2.0, allowing fans to express their opinions and rants about the Star Wars universe, as well as continuing with their original mission.

Notes and referencesEdit

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