Feb 11, 2012

Face it George, Han Shot First

Image Courtesy {link}

Why does George Lucas insist on changing Star Wars decades after it was already popular?
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. [1]
Ok, fine. Lucas is the creator and does know what his original intent for the character was because he wrote him. However, George seems to be missing two crucial points here.

First, people have never thought of Han as a "cold-blooded killer." He is a space pirate in a space opera. He's a rogue, a Jack Sparrow kind of character if you will. Ok, not a great comparison but it makes the point. He didn't kill Greedo in cold blood but in self defense. Greedo was holding him at gun point and going to turn him over to Jabba the Hut. Han was built up through A New Hope as a man who has a code of honor and lives by it, but it is his own and he can't be expected to live by anyone else's. This is what makes it so cool when he comes back to save Luke later on. He has grown as a character. By changing the scene with Greedo you remove that rough, roguish edge from his character and the eventual change of heart becomes less meaningful.

Second, why change it in the first place? It wasn't clear in the original scene and yet several generations of fans loved that scene and what it meant about the character. So why, after all that time, would you go back in and change it? Yes, it is your film Mr. Lucas, but when a film is released to the public and has been out for decades, the fans take a bit of possession of it as well. Not to mention that it was another decade and a half before this explanation. It's just not a smart decision.

For those too young to remember how things really went down, here's a video:

But that's not all. Darth Vader suffers from this as well. In the original trilogy, Vader is the archetypal bad guy. Wears all black, deep voice, doesn't hesitate to kill those of his minions who disappoint him. He is single minded in his focus and is intent on ruling the galaxy. He came, over the years, to define "bad guy." Then George Lucas brought us the prequel trilogy and Anakin Skywalker's backstory. Suddenly Darth Vader goes from being the archetypal bad guy to tragic hero. He's just a kid who loved his mommy too much. Somehow, the bad guy Darth Vader is no longer as scary, or bad.

Then, in the recent BluRay re-re-re-re-release, another nail went into the coffin of Vader's awesome-bad-guy-ness. In Episode III when he learns of Padme's death, Vader let's out a cry of anguish. George added a similar cry of "noooooo" to the climax of Return of the Jedi as Vader watches Emperor Palpatine torturing his son. Fine, I get that we're supposed to see the parallel between Vader's anguish at losing his wife and now about to lose his son, but that scene was one of the most powerful moments in cinematic history. Vader's silence, watching the torture and impending death of his son at the hands of his mentor and master, is powerful. Even though he wears a full mask that is all black, you can see the internal redemption and change in the masks "eyes" when Vader moves to save Luke. It needed no words, no vocalizations beyond the purity of Luke's agonized screams. Thanks George, once again ruining what was an incredibly deep and moving character arc.

Oh, but it doesn't end there either. Boba Fett has also been ruined. From the original trilogy we know Boba Fett as a stone-cold killer. A mercenary for hire. Enter the prequels and suddenly he is a little boy with daddy issues. Suddenly the most feared assassin in the galaxy is a little less cool.

I just don't get it. The original trilogy was near perfection. For an operatic space fantasy film, not the most amazingly deep genre, to garner the love and respect that it has is beyond phenomenal. Fine, add in some cool background details and such, no problem. Change character story arcs? Cheapen the villains? Destroy one of the hero's redemption? WHY George? Why!?

Don't get me wrong, I love the prequel movies, albeit not as much as the originals, but somehow, they weaken and make the originals a little less powerful. George's incessant meddling isn't helping matters any.


  1. Oh, Lucas...You make me so sad. :( You've diminished so many of the great characters you created with the prequels. Han, Boba, and Vader all fared much better before you began tinkering with the films...

  2. I really need to watch these movies! It does seem quite stupid to go back and change what people have thought for so long. Leave it as it was! If it makes the fans happy that is what is important right?

    1. Yes, yes we will be watching these! I know right!?