I have fielded many questions about the vinyl decal on the back of my truck that reads, “HAN SHOT FIRST”. Like many of the items I put on my truck, in my cubicle or most anything else I own, it mostly just announces to the world my own inherent geekiness.
It refers to a scene in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope that was altered by George Lucas in the 1997 Special Edition release in which Han Solo and first-time bounty hunter Greedo engage in a confrontation in the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine. There is a bounty on Han’s head because he owes Jabba the Hutt a large sum of money due to a smuggling job gone wrong. And the reptilian humanoid has him dead-to-rights. In the original version Solo decides to escape his inevitable capture by firing a single shot under the table and killing the poor green guy. Greedo never even gets to fire his blaster before falling forward lifelessly to the table.
However, in the Special Edition, Greedo shoots first, at point-blank range, and inexplicably misses. Thereby making Solo’s shot look more like self-defense, as if he had no other choice but retaliation in order to escape. Lucas did this very much on purpose in order to minimize the senseless violence for the kiddies. But the fan-boys like me didn’t buy it. It felt wrong, looked fake, and made Solo’s character more vanilla and less of the scoundrel he was supposed to be in the beginning; which totally threw off his character development from anti-hero to hero. Geeks around the world demanded a retraction!
Finally, in 2006 a third release of the DVD was announced which included two versions of the movie; the newly re-mastered special edition, and a second disk featuring the unaltered, untouched original theatrical release! He didn’t change it back, but at least we were able to purchase the movie the way we remembered it on DVD for the very first time! It made many of us as happy as the heroes when R2 shut the compactor down! (FYI: they were really happy!)
Here’s how the scene was meant to be seen:
Click here to read more about “Han Shot First”.