George Lucas Explains Why Greedo Shoots At Han Solo First in Star Wars Special Editions

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(Photo: Lucasfilm)

When you say "Star Wars Special Editions," many fans of the franchise will cringe. There are a few reasons, of course, like extra CGI aliens or additional scenes that don't seem to do all that much for the story. But one point of contention that nearly every Star Wars fan agrees on is this: despite what the Special Edition version says, Han Solo shot first.

The scene in question is the first time we meet Han Solo, in the Mos Eisly Cantina. He talks with the bounty hunter Greedo, who's there on behalf of Jabba the Hutt. In the originally filmed version, Han Solo clearly shoots Greedo first, with Greedo's blaster going off in his death rattle, purely by instinct. In the revamped version - currently the only version available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD, Greedo fires first, with Han shooting and killing him in response.

Fans don't like the change because it fundamentally alters Han Solo's personality to them. Rather than a take-charge man-of-action, it seems he's just a wait-and-see reactionary type.

Ahead of his Kennedy Center Honor, the Washington Post chatted with Star Wars creator George Lucas - also the man that made those changes - about his career. He talked about his desire at this point to live more "in the shadows," and how he views his departure form the world he created as a "divorce." He admitted he couldn't be over the shoulder of Abrams, as he'd "make them miserable" as well as making himself miserable. He also expressed his reluctant excitement to see the film, probably at the Lucas Ranch ahead of release, experiencing the world from the outside for the first time. He also talked about that scene.

"Han Solo was going to marry Leia, and you look back and say, ‘Should he be a cold-blooded killer?' Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne?" Lucas explained to the Post. "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."

So there you have it. Now, whether or not John Wayne ever shot someone first is something that probably needs to be researched and backed up, but that's George Lucas's thoughts on the matter, and the reason why, in the mind of the creator, at least, Han shot second.