In recent years, George Lucas has repeatedly stated that Greedo shot at Han first in the Mos Eisley cantina. He made this clear in the Special Edition of A New Hope.
This change is primarily why I hold that Special Edition up to ridicule.
Lucas’ justification is that he doesn’t want Han to be a coldblooded killer. I disagree with that characterization of Han. But, let’s put a pin in that for a moment.
In Lucas’ vision, Han is a stone-cold idiot. Greedo as much came out and said he’s going to turn Han over to Jabba, preferably dead. Here are the problems with this scenario. 1) Han is an idiot to allow a professional bounty hunter to get a shot off from like ten feet away. Han, who also works for Jabba, surely knows Greedo reputation. Greedo must be good at what he does because he’s still alive.
2) Greedo a professional bounty hunter can’t hit a stationary target less ten feet in front of him. He’s a professional. If he can’t get the job done, Jabba wouldn’t keep him around.
The 1977 George Lucas knew better. Han was practical and professional, knowing the kind of world he lived in. From his conversation with Greedo, Greedo basically said he was going to kill Han for the bounty. Knowing that he was in a “it’s him or me” situation, Han shot first. This showed that Han was smart and crafty, Greedo was a skilled professional bounty hunter, and Jabba was dangerous.
The Special Edition Lucas screws up the characterizations of three characters, one a major character. He’s trying to make Han an all-around good guy when Han was far more gray. He still can’t “fix” Han’s desire throughout the 1st and 2nd movies to get away from the rebellion because it’s not his fight. He can’t fix Han as being a law-breaking smuggler. Still, the Special Edition Han’s “let Greedo get a shot off first because then I’ll be justified in shooting him” attitude wouldn’t have led to his demise long before he ever appeared in the movie.
The 1977 Han was a fully-formed, self-consistent character who was imperfect. The Special Edition Han is a mess of a character who comes off as a bit of a dullard.
Han shot first. Everyone’s okay with it. Except George Lucas. Lucas ought to admit he was wrong with that scene in the Special Edition and ought to realize how his Special Edition scene completely botches Han. He should ask for Disney to restore the original.