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Twenty years after the release of Star Wars, George Lucas re-released a special edition, featuring new sound and video technology, some clean-ups of a few scenes and even a few new extra scenes making use of modern CGI technology. This new edition was released to theatres, where it was met with dubious acclaim. Hardcore fans were disappointed with the changes, and many rallied to the flag of the original trilogy, which is widely recognized to be far better. The battle cry of this faction can be confusing at first.

"Han shot first!"

To someone who is not intimately familiar with the Star Wars trilogy, the confusion is understandable. Allow me to explain...

The Scene

Our hero, Han Solo, is in Chalmun's Cantina, in Mos Eisley, Tatooine. Han was given an assignment by Jabba the Hutt to deliver a load of illegal intoxicants from Kessel, a mining planet, overseen by a warden named Moruth Doole. Han was intercepted by an Imperial patrol, and was forced to jettison his cargo to avoid arrest. Jabba demanded recompense, which Han refused, since he said it was not his fault that he had to jettison the cargo, and even suggested that Doole himself had alerted the authorities. A particularly clueless bounty hunter by the name of Greedo offers to collect Han's debt. After a couple of failed attempts to make Solo pay, he finally catches up to him in a secluded booth in the Cantina, and demands that Solo immediately pay, or possibly lose his ship.

At blaster point.

BAD idea.

Han, being in a bit of a hurry and *not* being in a particularly talkative mood, decides that negotiations at this point would be best carried out with a blaster shot under the table, effectively ending any further objections Greedo may have made.

So what's the point?

Han Solo is a badass, that's the point. He's a mercenary. A criminal. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He's a DRUG SMUGGLER! He's the type of guy that would have absolutely no problem with preemptively blasting someone when the situation demands it. It's called survival instinct. Greedo was indeed under orders to kill Solo if he refused to pay. He just beat Greedo to the punch. Apparently this was a bit too much for George Lucas' newly refined sensibilities, however, as in the special edition we were treated with a watered down, poorly executed version of the scene that showed Greedo shooting first, somehow missing despite the fact that they were seperated by less than a meter, then Han drawing his blaster, and killing him.

I felt a disturbance in the Force. As if thousands of geeks stood up and cried, "Aw, HELL no!" and then sat back down, panting heavily.

Many objections were raised about the change in this scene, which quickly became the single most important point of contention for those who said that Lucas hadn't improved the trilogy at all, but rather, made it worse. Han Solo is one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars, and it is precisely BECAUSE he's the kind of gritty, cold-hearted bastard that would shoot someone when they least expect it. We've got plenty of morals with Luke Skywalker, thankyouverymuch. The hardcore Star Wars buffs, and even some of the not-so-hardcore, did not want this newly-found morally considerate Han Solo. The cry that went up for the original trilogy, then, was "Han shot first".

This is now widely recognized as the quintessential point that defines those who believe that the special edition is a crock. It has become quite popular, actually, as there is a Cafepress store where one can buy shirts proudly proclaiming that Han shot first. There is another website that lists the top ten other things that Han shot that hadn't shot at him first.

The universe as we know it has yet to end, however, and George Lucas still made bucketloads of cash from the special editon of Star Wars.

No bounty hunters were harmed in the making of this writeup.

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