There's a decent interview with George Lucas over on The Hollywood Reporter today, mostly consisting of questions regarding the Star Wars films, which saw a Blu-Ray release before Christmas and now have a 3D re-issue coming to theaters this weekend with The Phantom Menace. Of course, never being one to let a sleeping dog lie (not that it's ever really slept), Lucas feels it necessary to revisit the Han/Greedo brouhaha with this little bit of self-delusion:
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. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. 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.
Let's just discuss this for a minute. First off, there's no way that Greedo shot first in the original cut of the film, no matter what kind of wide shot logistics you want to talk about. There's no gunfire sound, and obviously no gunshot coming from Greedo's side of the table. Han shoots him, sure, but it's hardly in cold blood: he had a gun in his face and Greedo all but tells him that he's going to shoot him. Han shooting Greedo under the table before Greedo can pop a shot off is not only permissible, but it's the right thing to do. Greedo's gun was a foot away from Han's face! If Han was actually going to wait for Greedo to shoot before firing back, that would've made Han the dumbest character in the entire original trilogy.
No one wants to think that Han is a cold-blooded killer who indiscriminately murders innocent people, but that's just the point: we never did. Han was about to get murdered, and by pulling his trigger first, he saved his own life and rid the galaxy of someone who obviously had it coming. There's nothing ignoble about Han's actions, as Lucas seems to think; there's no need to correct them or make them "better." He's a good man trying to make his way in a bad world and is willing to do what it takes to survive, even if it occasionally means shooting someone from under a table. This is precisely why we like him. Changing his character into one that waits for someone to shoot at him when they have a gun to his head doesn't make him a more likable character; it makes him a more stupid one.
Why do I get so riled up about this when I know I shouldn't? I would at some point like to simply banish all thoughts of the new Star Wars from my head, and live in a Total Recall-ish existence where I remembered how they made me feel when I was a kid, without any of the last 20 years or so of changes. Let's make this happen, Internet.