Maybe Han Shouldn’t Have Shot First: Discussion and Theory on Disney+ Changing the Scene Yet Again
So the infamous “Han Shot First” scene has been altered yet again now that A New Hope has been added to Disney+. I won’t go over the details of how the scene has changed over time because we’ve all heard the story 1000 times by now. I’m just going to talk about the new change and why Disney decided to add this instead of reverting it back to its original form.
What Change Did Disney Make?
Before we get started, I need to point out that Disney didn’t actually make this change. George Lucas made it way before Disney even acquired Lucasfilm. He just never got around to putting it into the film. I assume Disney came across this revision and decided to add it. While we may not know the official reason yet, I have my own theory as to why Disney decided to add it, but I will get into that in a bit.
So the only thing that the new scene has added is Greedo saying “Maclunkey” after Han says, “I bet you have,” then the two proceed to shoot at each other almost simultaneously. There are no subtitles for the term “Maclunkey,” but many fans have noticed that it sounds pretty similar to what Sebulba says to Anakin in The Phantom Menace before the pod race in which Sebulba tries to kill him. Brian Young made a post on Twitter saying that “Maclunkey” roughly translates to “this’ll be the end of you.”
Also, the word Maclunkey (or however you spell it) was used by Sebulba. My Huttese is a bit rusty, but, roughly translated, it means “This’ll be the end of you” pic.twitter.com/wkktkZJXGW
— Bryan Young (@swankmotron) November 12, 2019
On the surface it might not seem like a huge addition to the scene, but I think I understand why Disney decided to put it in and keep the rest of the scene as is instead of reverting it back to its original state. There was some speculation that Disney might actually change it back to the original version, but the overall Star Wars narrative has changed a lot since then. Now with the release of the movie Solo, it makes more canonical sense to have to scene play out the way it is currently shown on Disney+.
My Theory on the Change
Before I jump straight in with this, I want to get any biases out of the way. I absolutely loved Solo. From the casting/character development to the action-packed storytelling, I think Solo is one of the best Star Wars movies to date. I’m aware that not everyone will agree and that there are a good amount of people out there that hate every Star Wars film that Disney has made, but I personally love this one.
This film is the main reason why I believe the changes made to the “Han Shot First” scene are necessary. I used to prefer how the original played out because it had Han’s start out as a ruthless outlaw and changed him into someone who actually does care for the greater good. The only problem which that character arch is the fact that it happens so quickly. At the beginning of the film he’s an uncaring jerk and somehow by the end, which is at most a day or two later, he suddenly cares and helps out the resistance.
Now granted, future films still show him making the occasional selfish choice, but viewers can still see that he cares for his friends, especially Leia. The creation of the movie Solo, however, shows our favorite smuggler in a new light. Even though Han came from a rough background and turns to a life of crime, Qi’ra still points out later on in the film that Han is “the good guy.” This is because throughout the film, Han consistently makes choices that seem to be selfish on the outside but are actually ones that help other people out rather than just himself, even if he doesn’t fully realize it. I mean his response to being called the good guy is, “I am not the good guy. I am definitely not a good guy. I’m a terrible person.” Sounds an awful lot like a character who doesn’t want to accept who he truly is.
But I’m not trying to argue that Han is one of the best dudes in the galaxy. Throughout Solo and the original trilogy, he is shown to be selfish and arrogant countless times, but even though he is this way, it doesn’t mean he’s not willing to help others out in the process. If Han was the predominately self-interested guy that the original film made him out to be, he wouldn’t have tried to help out Enfys Nest at the end of Solo. Even if he did, he had a perfect opportunity to make off with the coaxium after he killed Beckett, or at the very least, skim a little off the top. Instead, he returned all of the coaxium without asking for anything in return. Not the type of thing a ruthless outlaw would do if you ask me.
So that brings us back to A New Hope and the infamous scene in the cantina. If the original remained untouched, it wouldn’t have made as much sense for Han to kill Greedo in cold blood at the first sign of a threat. Han has been in many life-threatening situations before, and he’s well known for being able to talk his way out of them. He would have had plenty of time and opportunities to lie his way out of trouble or slip away from Greedo on his way to Jabba. Killing Greedo would have only been necessary if his life was in danger.
It could be argued that his life was in danger in the original scene but Greedo does mention that he plans on bringing Han to Jabba before things get out of hand. That’s why George Lucas wanted to change the scene in the first place to have Greedo shoot first, threatening Han’s life and causing him to retaliate. Now I’m not saying George did this because he was planning on making a movie like Solo at the time, but he did have a vision for Han being a better type of outlaw, kind of like a John Wayne character, and he felt like this scene took away from that vision.
Now onto the reason why I think Disney decided to add the “Maclunkey” line before the two shot at each other. They added this in order to give Han a better reason to kill Greedo. If Greedo was actually saying something along the lines of “this will be the end of you,” that’s a much bigger indication that he’s about to fire his gun and Han’s life is now in danger, which is the exactly the motivation a guy like Han needs in order to kill another person instead of trying to talk his way out of it.
One more argument that might be used in favor of the original cut is the fact that there is a large time gap between Solo and A New Hope. One could argue that over time Han might have lost his good heart and become more of a merciless killer. I don’t think that’s possible given what we see in the movies, however. It still doesn’t account for the quick change he goes through in A New Hope. Instead, I would say that the events of Solo have turned him into a distrusting man who still has a good heart deep down.
In Solo, Han was betrayed by his mentor and his lover all in the same day. That would be enough to make most people lose all trust in others. The only person he still trusts by the end is Chewbacca. Han has good reason to trust him too because we see Chewy leave Han at one point to save some other Wookiees during the prison break scene, but he comes back to help Han in his time of need. Also, he seems to do it because he cares for Han, not because it aligns with his self-interest like we see most of the other characters do throughout the film.
This makes it easier to assume that Han just fulfils his role as a distrusting smuggler in the time between movies. He doesn’t learn how to trust again until we reach the original trilogy, which is much more of a believable character arch, rather than ruthless outlaw turned inspiring resistance leader.
Now I know my thoughts on this aren’t game changing and the type of thing that is going to revolutionize the way we look at Star Wars, but it’s an interesting thought nonetheless. There are going to be those people out there who will only ever accept the original rendition of the first three movies of the series and I get that. For those people, I really hope that Disney releases the original copies so they are able to relive the glory days of the series on Blu-ray instead of VHS.
But for the rest of us who follow the lore of the entire series, we really need to accept these revisions that were made to the original. It can be hard to accept something new that changes the way that you look at a character, but as I explained above, Han’s character arch flows a lot more smoothly if we accept that he didn’t shoot first. It’s just not the way that the character was supposed to be, and George Lucas has spent the last 30 years or so trying to correct that.