- "I happen to like to shoot first, Rekkon. As opposed to shooting second."
- ―Han Solo
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 the changes made to 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 Greedo still missing from point blank range. 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 'anti heroic' qualities, and also 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 for such a poignant character.
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 walkie-talkies.
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.
Repercussions in Star Wars media
- 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. In the PvP strip, Kurtz is shown wearing the T-shirt when he breaks the fourth wall.
- In the bunny reenactment on Angry Alien's website, an outtake shown at the end of the Macromedia Flash movie has Han shooting first.
- 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!"
- In a cutscene in LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, you see a LEGO version of Greedo slamming his fist on the table and Han shooting him, which blows Greedo into lego pieces, causing him to fall in a pile of limbs.
- 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 2 feet away has missed the board with at least 5 darts, a possible tongue-in-cheek explanation for the unlikelyness of Greedo missing Han.
- Aaron Allston, by way of his recent novel 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.
- After the assassination of Thrackan Sal-Solo in the novel Bloodlines, Boba Fett remarked that Han should learn to shoot first.
- In Revelation, Jaina tells Fett that if he plans on fighting Han Solo he should "remember to shoot first".
- Han said that he prefers shooting first, "as opposed to shooting second", in the novel Han Solo at Stars' End, which was first published nearly seventeen years before Special Editions were made.
- 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.
- Wizards of the Coast released a scenario for the Star Wars Miniatures game featuring the cantina shootout between Solo and Greedo. It is referentially titled "Who Shoots First?"
- In Underworld: A Galaxy of Scum and Villainy (Star Wars Insider 89), an in-universe report states that Han "is prone to 'shooting first'."
- In the Star Wars Tales non-canon spoof The Emperor's Court, Han Solo is prosecuted in court by Greedo's mother Neela, who claims that her son was shot first. The case is declared in Neela's favor, and Han is sentenced to be frozen in Carbonite and sent to Jabba the Hutt.
- In LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for Xbox 360, there is an Xbox Live achievement titled 'Shoot First'.
- In Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, in the Ord Mantell cutscene, there is a reference to Han shooting first. Col Serra says that although Han doesn't shoot first when it came to bounty hunters, the rest of the squadron does.
- In the Star Wars: The Old Republic Developer Blog Creating the Smuggler, it is stated Jedi may see things before they happen, but Smugglers always shoot first.
In the novel
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (novel), this infamous scene is left very vague. The book only says that "light and noise filled the little corner of the cantina"; it never specifies who shot first.
In the comic
In the scripts
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."
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 workprint version that lacks any added music or sound effects. Greedo speaks English with a received english accent, speaking his original lines as in the 1976 script. Han shoots him before he can fire a shot.
'Behind the Magic' actually 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 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 3 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."
- Irregular Webcomics has an alternate explanation for the discrepancy between versions of Episode IV, and has touched on the issue at other times.
- 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!"
- In the RiffTrax for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, when Han punches Lando, Kevin Murphy exclaims "Han punched 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, Chewy, Lando, Leia, and Luke open a door where Darth Vader is standing on the other side. Han shoots Vader 3 times and Vader blocks them 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?" To which 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 Pajamas Media show Afterburner with Bill Whittle had an epsiode that focused on this controversy called "Han Shot First," where Bill Whittle, the host, explained how negative the change was, and also used some of George Lucas' quotes on the matter to demonstrate as much as well as the current situation in Hollywood. On a related note, Whittle in the same episode also 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.
Han Shoots First.org
In 2004, Han Shoots First.org, a website that started as a rant/petition site for the release of an unadulterated, non-revisionist, theatrical release of Star Wars. Han Shoots First started their mission of "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 Han Shoots First.org 2.0. Han Shoots First now allows fans to express their opinions and rants about the Star Wars Universe, as well as continuing on with their mission of a "Star Wars that doesn't suck."
George Lucas weighs in
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 added he added in later releases of the film served to make the actual results of the encounter more obvious. The suggestion, coming several years after the first occurance of the alleged "change", appears to contradict the film's script, and other evidence suggesting that Greedo originally did not fire at Han.
Notes and references
- Greedo Assassination Conspiracy Page
- Top 10 Other Things that Han Shot that Didn't Shoot at Him First
- Han Shoots First.org