Before & After the Special Editions: Han and Greedo (Part 1)

Before & After the Special Editions:
Han and Greedo (Part 1)
Stuart Tullis

Change is a part of life.  It’s a part of growing up.  Seasons change.  Feelings change.  Even friends change as we move from school to school, job to job, town to town, or even simply through the natural progression of events.  But until the end of the last century, there were some things we took for granted would never change.  Then came the Star Wars Special Editions, and even our presuppositions changed.

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In truth, Star Wars has been changing since the first releases of the original film in 1977.  There were different audio mixes with various voices in familiar roles even then.  Most fans are aware that “Episode IV” and “A New Hope” were not in the opening scroll of the original cut; these were added in a later release.  These changes, however, are usually overlooked (quite possibly because the earliest copies available on home video already included these early alterations).

But when the Star Wars Special Editions were released twenty years after the initial release of the first film, the initial excitement about seeing Star Wars in theaters was soon accompanied with complaints from long-time fans about the changes George Lucas made in his classic trilogy.  Not the least of which was centered around Han Solo’s encounter with Greedo in the cantina.  The familiar line “Yes, I bet you have,” was punctuated, not with a blast from Han’s DL-44, but a shot fired from Greedo’s drawn weapon.

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“Han shot first!” was the rallying cry of disgruntled fanboys and fangirls in response to this apparently minuscule change in the brief encounter — a change that altered less than two seconds in the final cut of the Special Edition.  What is it about this change that set fans on edge?  Why does the order of shots being fired continue to cause debate and dissension among the ranks of the faithful?

In my opinion (and I’ve been considering it for some seventeen years, now), that one shot completely changed the character of Han Solo, his journey through the three films, and even the story of the saga itself.  Consider how Han changed by this notorious editorial revision of the duel between the scoundrel and a bounty hunter….

Before the change, Han Solo lived up to his namesake.  He was a loner, facing the galaxy on his own.  He lived on his own terms and survived by his own skills.  Because of this, he maintained no commitments (other than to Chewbacca, but that was evidently more of Chewie’s commitment to Han than the other way around).  Being alone means taking care of your own business and even becoming your own security.  As a smuggler, Han was in a dangerous profession; this wasn’t the first time he had looked down the barrel of a blaster.  This dangerous, streetwise version of Han maintained his composure through the entire encounter, feigning disinterest while setting up the shot against his would-be assassin.  When Han fired, we understood the gravity of the situation: had he not killed Greedo, he would have been killed himself (a fact Greedo had already implicitly confirmed).  Han owed his allegiance to no one but himself, and he would do whatever was necessary to ensure his survival.  He was smart, skilled, and tough — no one to be trifled with.

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After the change, Han Solo had lost his edge.  Though he talked a good game with Luke and Ben at the table, and while he seemed to be confident in his conversation with Greedo, Han lived a half-second from the grave, owing his existence to luck.  In the 1997 theatrical release of Star Wars: A New Hope Special Edition, Greedo not only got the draw on Han, but clearly fired the first shot.  Han’s slow reflexes in his trigger finger (incredibly slow for a smuggler and hot-shot pilot) were compensated by a combination of Greedo’s terrible aim and Han’s good fortune. When the movie was released on DVD, Han’s reflexes seemingly improved, though Greedo still got off a shot before Han could squeeze the trigger.  Arguably, Han’s dangerous situation remains intact throughout these changes, but his character has been forever altered.  Han has become a nice guy, giving others the benefit of the doubt even in the gravest of situations.  Perhaps he doesn’t realize that his luck could run out some day.  Maybe he would rather let others make the first move, trusting he could dodge laser blasts and respond appropriately after the fact.  This latter Han would have been completely in character to get up from his seat, turn to the Wuher and say, “It’s not my fault; he shot first!” keeping his credit in his pocket instead of flipping it to the bartender as he uttered the memorable phrase, “Sorry about the mess,” which better suits a man who doesn’t make excuses for defending himself.

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In case you can’t tell, I favor the original telling of the story in this instance.  Even though Greedo’s shot has been inserted into the movie, it really doesn’t fit the scheme of the scene.  Han is trying to distract Greedo from noticing that he’s drawing his blaster by looking up to what he’s doing with his left hand against the wall (a classic move to draw the eye away from the sleight-of-hand).  If Han was going to let Greedo shoot anyway, there would be no need to distract his draw — they could just start the shootout.  Furthermore, letting Greedo get a shot off at all emasculates Han, leaving him a static, relatively shallow character instead of the skilled pilot who has some experience to match his cool confidence and braggadocio.  This scene affects the way we see Han throughout the rest of the trilogy, as well — but that’s something we will check out next week as we continue to look at “Before & After the Special Editions: Han and Greedo Pt. 2”.

Fighter Flight (or The First Filler Episode) – Rebels Roundtable #3

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The Star Wars Report’s Rebels Roundtable takes on Fighter Flight.

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The Star Wars Report’s Rebels Roundtable returns this week to check out the Season 1 episode Fighter Flight, the second “regular” episode in the series’ run.

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 (Could it be? The original Kenner toy enters Story Group Canon!)

Join Johnathan, Berent, Nathan, and Jen as they discuss the episode. Was this episode just “filler” as some panelists suggest? How cool was it to see a toy given its own new canon interpretation? What is up with Sabine’s artwork? All this and more in this episode of Rebels Roundtable.

Download the MP3 of this episode HERE (right click, save as).

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Rebel Heist – SWBTF #146

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Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and Luke, as well as some one-and-done Rebels, oh and a plot worthy of… well listen and learn more! All this and more! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR Podcast of Legends! YOUR ticket to that Galaxy far, far away!

This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, The Champion of the Multiverse; Mark Hurliman, and your Count of 2 Continuities; Nathan P. Butler, sit down to read Dark Horse Comic’s Star Wars: Rebel Heist by Matt Kindt. So strap in, and tighten your crash webbing Fandom, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!4143588-01 Continue reading

Rebels Review: Fight or Flight or Fighter….

Mitchell Stein: Last week I discussed Ezra and Zeb’s complex friendship, which I speculated would lead to some very interesting story arcs. This week, we return to focus again once more on Ezra and Zeb, but not quite in as entertaining a way this time.

As it being just the third episode of this brand-new series, Fighter Flight was pretty dull for me, especially in comparison to Spark of Rebellion and Droids in Distress. There’s not much more character development, which this show so urgently needs, and the story itself was rather dull.

We’re brought into the marketplace where we are introduced to a character named Morad Sumar, who seems to have a connection with Ezra from his past. When Morad is captured, Ezra and Zeb set off to save him, thwarting the Imperial troops once again, and knocking ‘em out with space pineapples. Really.

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This episode didn’t really do much. It was entertaining, had some good gags, but really in the end contributes nothing to the continuous story. Even though watching the episodes in order isn’t necessary to enjoy the series, more time should be spent on the Imperials hunting down the rebels. Isn’t that the whole point of this show?

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There’s really not that much to be said about this week’s episode. It wasn’t awful by any means, but a poor follow up to what we’ve seen in the last two episodes. The series has a cast of fantastic characters at its disposal, and it hasn’t stretched the focus onto the other characters enough. Kanan is a confusing character, and I’m not really sure what to make of him at this point, but all the writers seem to be doing is just tossing him around in various scenes giving orders to the crew. I have no doubt that the spotlight will shine on him, but I hope it’s sometime soon. Hera and Sabine are both great dynamic characters who we barely spent any time with. Like I said last week, the Ezra and Zeb relationship will bring great story arcs, but now is not the time for it. The first few episodes of a series are crucial to its success.

Update: I just watched the latest episode Rise of the Old Masters and it is fantastic! Look for my review of it soon.

Mitchell Stein is a major Star Wars/Disney/Muppet/Marvel fan. He co-operates the website The Mickey Mindset (link: mickeymindset.comwhere he celebrates all these and more, daily! Be sure to check it out and like them on Facebook! (facebook.com/TheMickeyMindset)

Bros in the Force – SWR #150

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On this week’s podcast RileyBethany, and Mark are back for a good time talking “the wars!”

  • Bethany talks about criticism and trolling in fandom
  • Ep. 7 is almost done filming – What a whirlwind few months
  • Harry Potter visited the Ep. 7 set
  • Wicket is in the movie!
  • Rebels discussion: Ezra and Zeb are awesome!

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Links:

  1. Less Than A Month Left In Episode VII Production
  2. Will Warwick Davis Appear in Star Wars: Episode VII?
  3. Daniel Radcliffe excited about visiting Star Wars set
  4. http://www.starwarsreport.com/nightattack/
  • Download the mp3 HERE: (Right-click and “save as”)
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