George Lucas says he didn’t change a thing – Greedo, not Han Solo, always shot first, you just didn’t notice.
It’s no secret that Star Wars creator George Lucas has a powerful penchant for messing with his movies. One of the most obvious and egregious examples of his inability to leave things alone [and thereby make them worse] is the transformation of Han Solo, through one single, small action, from bad-ass space pirate to innocent practitioner of self-defense. And since that day, among a certain subset of sci-fi nerds who refuse to drink the Kool-Aid, the call has gone out: “Solo shot first!”
Except that according to Lucas, Solo didn’t shoot first. Ever. Not even in the original 1977 release of the film. In fact, George claims that he didn’t change anything at all, you just didn’t see it right.
“The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.
“It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom,” he said. “I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down.”
George. George. I just rewatched that little bit of the cantina scene on YouTube and I can say with a good degree of confidence that the problem here is not one of perception. There is no confusion. Han Solo clearly, casually and without warning wasted some low-level scumbag enforcer who was giving him a hard time. You can’t erase the Holiday Special from our memories, George, and you can’t change the fact that Han Solo is a stone cold killer.
To paraphrase the man who played the man who pulled the trigger in Mos Eisley: “George, you can say this shit, but you sure as hell can’t believe it.”