The Solo Path of Redemption

I’ve had this sort of rant for a while regarding Star Wars and Han Solo. I rarely get to expound on it because I rarely meet people who (1) dig Star Wars as much I do and are willing to listen (2) care about the actual story and characters like I do. But then I remembered this here blog – hooray for making your own platform. So, here it goes.

 

Han shot first. Those of us who remember the original movies before George Lucas jazzed them up for the DVD version already know this. There isn’t a debate at all – he shot before Greedo before Greedo could shoot him.

So what’s the big deal about it? Well apparently something for Lucas to change the scene so it looked like Han fired his weapon in self-defense. Perhaps he didn’t want Solo to look like such a bad guy in the beginning. Maybe outside pressure forced the director to soften Han’s rougher edges and make him less like a villain and more like an okay guy who just happens to be a smuggler for a mobster. Not so bad, right?

But softening the edges actually does the character more harm than good. Han Solo is a scoundrel – he says so himself in “Empire Strikes Back.” He’s not a good guy at all, and in the beginning, is only out for himself. He agrees to take Obi-Wan and Luke to Alderaan for two reasons: (1) money and (2) to skip out on the boss who just tried to kill him.

The boss, of course, is Jabba the Hutt. Think of Jabba as the Godfather – how many guys worked for Corleone and never killed anyone? It’s probable that Greedo wasn’t the first guy/being killed by Han. Highly likely.

Han Solo is a scoundrel who thinks of himself first and foremost. He is, without a doubt, flawed. And unlike Luke and Leia, who were already focused on helping others before themselves, Han’s character was in need of redemption. His journey actually began in the final scenes of “A New Hope” when he decided not to abandon his new friend Luke and run off with his reward money.

One of the best stories told throughout Star Wars is that of a man who went from caring about no one but himself to caring about everyone else first before considering himself. And not only does Han end up fighting with the rebels, but he is willing to step aside when he thinks the love of his life is in love with his best friend – that is not the Han Solo that we meet at the beginning of the story. And the depth of his story is shortened (and we are robbed) when you/society tries to make his edges less rough, less unpleasant and “bad.”

Even at his worse, Han is still a relatable, very human character. How? Because he is flawed and in need of redemption. We all are. For those who don’t like the religious undertones of that word, let’s say amends/atonement/rescue – from behaviors or decisions or points in our life that weigh us down and make us scoundrels. We have all been a scoundrel at some point in our life, and few of us probably wanted to remain as such. Han found a way to a new life and a better version of himself – another something that most of us can relate to and desire.

So why make him less scandalous in the beginning? Changing the timing of his trigger pull not only lessens his character’s transformation, but it lessens us a little too. It’s okay that Han shot first. We want him to. We might even need him to – for the story, and for us too.

 

 

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