A new story settles the question!
When the Special Edition version of Star Wars hit theaters in 1997, there was one early scene that became a very big problem for fans. To this day, three simple words represent a stubborn rallying cry for many old school fans: “Han shot first.” We are speaking, of course, of the infamous scene in the Mos Eisley cantina when Han Solo shoots Greedo. Now, the writer of a new, Star Wars story has made his position very clear, as well as making it part of canon.
Next week will see the publication of Marvel Comics’ Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #1, which will give readers a look at adventures from the iconic duo from before the events of A New Hope. Marvel released preview pages for the issue (via Screen Rant), including an early exchange between Han and Greedo. Jabba sets the pair up for a job, but Greedo’s reputation has preceded him. Han warns the Rodian bounty hunter, “If you try to screw me over, double-cross me, do anything that gives me a bad feeling… I’ll shoot first and ask questions later.” You can see that moment below.
In case you are somehow fortunate enough to be lucky enough to not know what we’re talking about — in the original version of Star Wars, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) shoots the Rodian bounty hunter Greedo under their shared table without warning, temporarily ending the threat that he will be taken back to crime boss Jabba the Hutt. By the time he re-edited the special edition, however, director George Lucas no longer liked the idea of depicting Han as a cold-blooded killer. So the scene was altered, with Greedo shooting first, Han ducking the shot, and then firing only in self defense. Of all the changes made to the original Star Wars trilogy, this remains perhaps the most controversial.
Speaking to the Washington Post in 2015, Geroge Lucas explained that he’d had second thoughts about the scene. “Because I was thinking mythologically — should [Han] be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne?” Lucas recalled. “And I said, ‘Yeah, he should be John Wayne.’ And when you’re John Wayne, you don’t shoot people [first] — you let them have the first shot. It’s a mythological reality that we hope our society pays attention to.”
Apparently, Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca writer Marc Guggenheim feels differently, because he used his story as an opportunity to make his thoughts canon. His Han Solo makes it clear to Greedo that he will shoot first. Actually, the often repeated phrase “Han shot first,” isn’t completely accurate. In the original version, Han didn’t just shoot first — he was the only one who shot at all, because Greedo doesn’t live long enough to return fire.
One might argue that the problem with Lucas’ changes in this scene aren’t that he changed too much, but that he didn’t change enough. Whether or not you agree with the director’s interpretation of Han’s character, the entire scene stops making sense if Greedo opens fire without warning. Why bother having a conversation with Han if he’s just planning to kill him? There’s also the fact that all know from one of Boba Fett‘s very few lines of dialogue in the original trilogy — “He’s no good to me dead” in Empire Strikes Back — Jabba wanted Solo alive. Not to mention that without Han shooting first, his classic line — saying “Yes, I’ll bet you have,” in response to Greedo’s “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time” — goes from being a perfectly dark joke to just talking to hear his own voice. With the special edition the changes, the scene does nothing but serve as exposition, which we would get anyway from the new scene with Jabba in the hangar.