Friday, November 30, 2012

Opinion: Who Shot First: Why It Matters


By: David Gremillion

There are questions that are labeled as "eternal" to all mankind. What did Lincoln sound like? Was there a City of Atlantis? Why DID the chicken cross the road? For Star Wars fans, there is one "eternal" question that stands out among us. Who shot first?

On May 25, 1977, the world marveled at the cinematic sensation known as "Star Wars". We all remember Han blasting Greedo with no hesitation and then showing no remorse afterwards. Or did he? Twenty years later, one of the greatest debates (other than PT vs OT) in all of movie history was born. George Lucas spent an additional ten million dollars to bring Star Wars back to the big screen. For the first time since Return of the Jedi debuted, we saw the iconic "Lucasfilm" logo. Audiences went wild. Until Greedo shot at Han first.

Then...everything changed. But why did it matter? Why did this minor change make such a major difference in the minds of millions of people? This one change, above all other changes, didn't just change one scene; it changed the fundamental being of one of the greatest characters in the saga.

Han Solo is a rogue, a scoundrel, and a mercenary. He's a bad boy, but with a good heart. He's exactly the type of person who would shoot first and ask questions later. Other characters (Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, Rick O'Connell from The Mummy, for example) are modeled after Han Solo. There is even a popular blog entry entitled: "How to Write a Han Solo Hero in Six Easy Steps!" What is step 1? Be a scoundrel. Nice guys are predictable. Han Solo? He's Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. No one knows what he'll do or why. He's Hondo before Hondo was Hondo.

With Greedo shooting first, now you've made him the good guy. Han Solo is now firmly in the camp of the protagonist. Poor Han, he was just defending himself from a ruthless bounty hunter who can't hit a target sitting (literally) two feet in front of him! Good guys are boring.

With one change, George Lucas transformed Han Solo from a loveable scoundrel with a heart of gold into just another good guy. We already have Leia (she shot first onboard her ship!), Luke, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, do we need another good guy? This story needs intrigue and someone who can be just bad enough until the very last moment when he sails in and saves the day.

When writing a story, you have protagonists, antagonists, and wild cards. Buffy, Vampire, Spike. Anakin, Grievous, Hondo. William Turner, Elizabeth Swan, Jack Sparrow. Sorry...that's Captain Jack Sparrow.

Why does it matter who shot first? With only a few seconds of screen time, you turn a legendary character into just another good guy. The inspiration for other "wild cards" vanishes.

You just turned Han Solo into a generic character.

This article is an opinion piece and represents the views of the writer, and not the entire Star Wars Underworld organization.


Post a Comment

This site is not endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Disney and is intended for entertainment and information purposes only. The official Star Wars site can be found at Star Wars, the Star Wars logo, all names and pictures of Star Wars characters, vehicles and any other Star Wars related items are registered trademarks and/or copyrights of Lucasfilm Ltd., or their respective trademark and copyright holders. All original content of this site, both graphical and textual, is the intellectual property of The Star Wars Underworld - unless otherwise indicated.
Site template © 2011 Supported by PsPrint Emeryville and