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May 11, 2012

The ever-diminishing bad-assery of Han Solo

Oh, the eternal question that has vexed mankind from our earliest days of civilization (i.e., 1977): Who shot first, Han or Greedo?


"Don't mind the gun, Solo. I'm just happy to see you."

Go ahead and answer that question but allow me to follow it up by paraphrasing the preeminent philosopher of our day, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, and respond that, no, the correct answer is “Who gives a shit?”

When George Lucas first unveiled his changes to the original Star Wars film, fans were up-in-arms immediately over the revisions, but in terms of sheer pants-shitting outcry, this one is the granddaddy of ’em all. This is the biggie. This is the one that had the power to send countless grown men screaming and crying back to the safety of their childhood memories where, like today, they were still virgins.

So what was the big deal anyway?

Well, in the original version of the film, Han Solo shoots before Greedo has any idea what’s going on. In the revision, Greedo shoots at Han just a split-second before Han takes him out.

And that is the controversial change, an alteration that occupies about one-quarter second of film time. No really. If you’re not a Star Wars fan, I’m seriously not making this up.

The argument against Greedo shooting first goes about like this. In the original film, Han Solo was a Super Awesome Bad AssĀ®. Despite having a gun pointed at him, Solo stayed cool and collected, if not downright flippant, traded a few not-so-friendly words with the diminutive green bounty hunter across the table from him and promptly ended the discussion with a Greedo-splitting blast that left the entire cantina in stunned silence. Then, with all eyes on him, Solo casually saunters out with enough attitude to fill ten Quentin Tarantino films, flips the bartender a coin (no tip!) and apologizes for the mess. All in a day’s work. For a bad ass, that is.

So, yeah. That’s some serious tough guy act. Even The Shameless Star Wars Apologist wonders how Solo manages to walk so easily in that scene when clearly he’s packing testicles of galactic proportions. (Perhaps that’s where the smuggling skills come in to play.)

The argument against the revision is that Greedo’s shot justifies Solo’s lethal actions and, therefore, dilutes the pure bad ass nature of Solo’s personality. But that doesn’t matter. Greedo has already provoked and justified Solo’s actions just by sitting down with his weapon drawn and aimed. Whether Greedo shoots at this point or not is irrelevant. The threat is there. The justification for Solo’s actions were in place from the original release of the film.

So how does that one shot from Greedo change anything we learn about Solo in that scene?

• Still cool as a Corellian cucumber, even at gunpoint? Check.

• Still trading tough words with the green bounty hunter? Check.

• Still manages to get his gun out with bad ass stealth? Check.

• Still kills Greedo with one shot? Check.

• Still saunters out like wasting someone was no big deal? Check.

• Still doesn’t tip? Check.

How did Greedo shooting first make Solo any less of a bad ass? It didn’t because it didn’t change the underlying situation in any significant way. And until Lucas changes the scene to make Solo plead like a coward for his life or digitally alters Greedo into a little schoolgirl, Han Solo will continue to be the Super Awesome Bad AssĀ® he always was.

  • Kevin B.

    That’s not the argument. The argument is that Solo would not be dumb enough to let Greedo get in the first shot. It makes Solo look slow and stupid reaction time.

  • Jmcallen

    This is written well and very funny but you totally miss the point. It was a perfect scene back then. The timing and pacing were just right. The mucking around that Lucas felt he needed to do ruined it. And now it’s awkward looking and hard to watch. Lucas’s ego got the better of him. That’s a pity because he spoIled one of his best moments.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comments.

    @Jmcallen: Really? You really think a 1/2-second change to that scene messes up the pacing? I just don’t see it. The pacing for the rest of the scene is unaltered.

    @Kevin B: You could have said the same thing about Greedo holding Solo at gunpoint in the original version. You could argue that Solo was dumb even to let Greedo get the drop on him in the first place (or hey, even that Chewbacca leaves and doesn’t even notice that his buddy is being held at gunpoint.) I don’t agree with the point you’re making and have never heard it argued that way.

  • Greedo’s tiny green penis

    ” in terms of sheer pants-shitting outcry”

    Lol! Best line in the article.

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