By Chris Six
You have probably heard the news of the latest controversy. It’s inescapable.
George Lucas fiddled with the classic Han/Greedo Cantina scene again. This may be the fourth time, for those keeping track at home.
Apparently, he snuck it in before the Disney+ release last week.
For those who were around in 1970-something, you may remember the iconic scene. Han Solo is waylaid by the bounty hunter Greedo just after Obi-Wan Kenobi secures passage for himself, Luke Skywalker and the droids to Alderaan on the Millennium Falcon.
Seems a certain Jabba the Hutt has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sight of an Imperial ship. Also seems Han doesn’t have time for Greedo, because he dispatches the green fella without hesitation.
Because we all know, Han shot first.
Until he didn’t. When it came time to re-release the original trilogy in the 1990s ahead of the much-maligned sequels, Mr. Lucas decided to use much-advanced CGI to add to his original vision in many places. The response was mixed, and for traditionalists, difficult to swallow. But the Cantina scene was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Not wanting one of his saga’s heroes to be seen as the kind of man who would shoot someone down in cold blood, Mr. Lucas chose to add a shot from Greedo that appeared to come first.
Now, a moment of perspective: in 1977, while he had hopes and dreams, Lucas didn’t really have a saga to dream about, Star Wars could easily have been a one-off. His concepts for sequels, if there were to be any, were still in the design stages. There is no way he could have envisioned his original movies would have attained a mythological quality. Legends? Canon? Expanded universe? Midi-chlorians? Whills? What is this babble?
But by the mid-1990s, he probably should have known better. The backlash was harsh. The galaxy’s favorite scoundrel would let Greedo get the jump on him, and it was only the fact that the bounty hunter was a worse shot than a storm trooper that saved Han? That was unacceptable. “Han shot first” t-shirts became a thing.
Granted, the change didn’t really hurt anyone. It’s a split second in a great story. It isn’t Hayden Christensen showing up for a curtain call. Still, if you were going to change things based on where the story went in subsequent “episodes,” I can think of a scene or two that could have used more attention. But I digress.
Obviously, Mr. Lucas has felt the heat all of these years, because with the launch of Disney+, he has again edited the scene. Not content to give diehards their scene back, he made the shots simultaneous.
Oh, and Greedo says “Maclunkey.”
The social media reaction (of course) has been priceless. Apparently, if you are a student of these things, what he truly says is “ma klounkee” — “This’ll be the end of you” — something established in The Phantom Menace. Whatever. Lucas has succeeded in defusing the anger in the room.
Maybe it’s because those of us who were most up in arms about who shot when in the first place have reached a point in our lives where it just doesn’t make a difference anymore. Or maybe, it’s because it’s just so silly, but “Maclunkey” is now a thing.
Hats off to George Lucas. I can only hope the foresight he had to hold on to the Star Wars merchandising rights repeats itself, and he holds the sole rights to Maclunkey. Because I have a new catchphrase, and I need me a t-shirt!