Han Should Shoot Second

Han Solo in the Cantina
Han relaxin’

Let’s imagine: you’re watching Star Wars Episode IV, “A New Hope,” and you’ve gotten to the Mos Eisley cantina scene, when Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han and Chewbacca. It was your favorite from when you were a kid! But then you remember you’re watching the remastered DVD version, since your taped edition from 1991 was accidentally put down the garbage disposal by your hamster. Han has his famous encounter with Greedo, retaliating a split-second after Greedo fires a blaster with a laser bolt of his own. You mutter in disgust “Han shot first.”

He did; that’s not what we’re arguing. But what if he shouldn’t have?

Han shot first because:

In writing, there is a masterful technique called “show, don’t tell.” This means that, if you want to convey a piece of information, reveal it naturally instead of having a character (or the narration) say it point-blank. This may be even more important in filmmaking, since it’s primarily a visual art. A lot can be shown in scenes without dialogue, narration, or even many actions.

Say for instance you’re making a space opera film in the seventies. You have a loveable rogue character, someone that guys want to be and women want to be with. He’s smug, cocky, and skilled. You have two main options to display him: the first is to have another character, a farm kid out on an adventure let’s say, tell another, perhaps older character that this rogue character is “Smug, cocky, and skilled.” The rogue character looks on with pleasure. Maybe not a bad idea, as long as your character proceeds to act accordingly.

Your second option is through the character’s actions. He’s got his foot up on a table, arm draped over the back of his booth, and he’s telling a bounty hunter “don’t worry; I’ll get Jorba the money.” The bounty hunter threatens to kill him if he doesn’t, so your rogue blasts away. The bounty hunter smolders, the rogue flips a coin to the bar owner and tells him “sorry about the mess.”

The character has described himself by saying nothing about himself, only through his actions and body. We’re being shown the character, instead of having it told to us. So when Han fires at Greedo mere moments after Greedo has threatened to kill him, Han is set up as someone not afraid to break the rules, someone who shoots first, asks questions later, and someone who has to act fast to keep himself safe. Han’s actions later in the movie build on this formative scene, fleshing out everyone’s favorite bad boy space captain.

Let’s look at another example. So your space opera story is a hit, and you decide to make an unrelated sequel, using the space-rogue’s son as the main character. The son is a failed revolutionary, captain to a small smuggling ship with a diverse and interesting crew that flees the ruling empire, constantly breaking down, running out of gas, and coming into contact with flesh-eating humanoids from the edges of space.

This description may sound familiar to an entirely unrelated character, Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. Multiple times in the short-lived series, Captain Mal unloads on unsuspecting, defenseless, and even surrendered enemies because it keeps him, his crew, and his ship safe. Mal is a close second on our all-time favorite space rogue list, so it’s no surprise the parallels are drawn so smoothly. He’s dangerous, crafty, and refuses to back down.

Why Greedo shot first:

That said, and understood, there’s something that needs to be recognized: Malcolm Reynolds is not a good guy. He is the bad guy. We see him fight against the “Alliance,” the show’s Empire analogue, and even lose a civil war, so we’re meant to root for him. But why? The Alliance has created space fleets, we see boxes upon boxes of medicine, and any planet under their control is flourishing. On the other hand, the planets on the fringes are ruled by lunatics, killers, and space mafiosos. The only things we see the Alliance do that can be construed as absolutely bad (the experiments on River and SPOILER their turning the citizens of Miranda into the reavers) can easily be called the unfortunate and unforeseen consequences of attempts to do good.

But Han isn’t a bad guy. He saved Chewbacca from space-death after the wookie tried to kill him, is actually attempting to pay Jabba back, and offers to fly a couple of backwater hicks to Alderaan, even without the money up front. He kills Greedo because Greedo will absolutely kill him if he doesn’t get Jabba’s money. In fact, the struggle between Han’s rogue side and his “good” side is apparent in the very first movie; a good example would be his triumphant return to the Death Star run.

Han is constantly at odds with himself on how to act. Save the Princess and help the rebellion, or get a reward and clear his debt with Jabba? His attitude flips on a dime a number of times in the original trilogy.

Greedo and Han
Koona t’chuta Solo?

Yes, certainly, the ham-fisted change to the original scene is jarring, and Lucas’ desire to adjust the original movie is unwarranted, but there may be more here than changes just for changes’ sake.

Shmi Skywalker Star Wars Character Corner

Shmi Skywalker
Shmi Skywalker

We’re back to our monthly character corner segment, the time when we take a deeper look at some of the characters you’ve come to know and love from the Star Wars series. This week’s character is Shmi Skywalker, Mother to the Chosen One Anakin Skywalker.

History:

Born seventy-two years before the battle of Yavin, Shmi’s family was captured by pirates at the age of six, and sold into slavery. She was taken from one planet to another, serving as a house servant and, as she grew, a cleaning servant. Many of the masters were cruel to her, but one in particular, Pi-Lippa, taught Shmi technical skills and other abilities. At about the time of Pi-Lippa’s death, Shmi became pregnant with Anakin.

Her next master, Hutt gangster Lord Gardulla the Elder, had no such altruism for her slaves, as she allowed Anakin to participate in the Boonta Eve Classic Podrace, despite believing it was impossible for him to win. Gardulla lost the two slaves in a bet to Watto, a similarly cruel master. Shmi became even busier as Anakin grew, attempting to keep him safe and out of trouble. She passed on her mechanical skills and knowledge to her son, who began to make many things.

Shmi and Anakin meet Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and, as we see in Episode I, Anakin is taken to train and become a Jedi himself. Shmi remained in Watto’s service for a time. While the Toydarian had mellowed, the junk shop also began to fall on hard times. A moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars purchased her, immediately freeing her and asking for her hand in marriage. Even though she had a place in the Lars family, Shmi still waited for Anakin to return to her.

About a month before the Clone Wars started, Shmi was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders while she gathered mushrooms. After searching for nearly a month, Lars was forced to give up the hunt. Shmi remained alive, beaten and dehydrated but holding on to her memories of Anakin. It was at this time that Anakin began having nightmares about his mother’s death. Episode II shows us his journey back to Tatooine, and his encounter with his mother’s final moments, and his leap toward the dark side after the destruction of the Tusken Raider camp.

Legacy:

While her screen time is relatively short, her impact on the series is huge. Her capture and death is what leads Anakin to talk to Chancellor Palpatine in the first place, and her death – followed by Anakin’s brutal slaying – leads the way to his eventual turn to the dark side. His turn to the dark side also prompted Padme’s death after the birth of Luke and Leia, setting up the entire original trilogy.

Behind the Scenes:

Shmi is portrayed by Swedish actress Pernilla August. It was revealed she would be playing Anakin’s mother in 1998. In the Phantom Menace game adaption, Shmi is voiced by Carolyn Seymour, with Pernilla reprising her role in a Star Wars: The Clone Wars season three episode (Overlords).

Shmi Skywalker

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Character corner; come back soon for more fun fan information!

Valentine’s Day Plans

Whether you’re heading out with your love or staying in for a quiet night, we know you’re really wondering what your favorite Star Wars characters are going to be up to this Valentine’s Day. Well, we have just the thing. Read on, and be enlightened!

Valentine's Day
The Solos celebrate Valentine’s Day

Han and Leia:

Leaving the kids in the capable hands of C-3PO and R2-D2 (who are robots, and thus incapable of love), Han and Leia will likely take a trip to a romantic, out-of-the way locale, such as the diamond planet or the Umbex III “Rings of Passion”*. Later, they may have a shopping trip on Coruscant, or swing their political power for a comfy table on one of the metropolis-planet’s best restaurants.

*Not canon.

Luke and Mara Jade:

Still dating, Luke wants to make Valentine’s Day a special event. His options are many; there is no shortage of romantic sights out in the galaxy, both among the stars and on planets (Luke is also trying to one-up his father’s sorry attempts at romance). However, given the track record that these two hold, they both come heavily armed, expecting at the very least an Imperial remnant out for blood. In the end, it just helps to draw them closer together.

Chewbacca:

Chewbacca has the opportunity to travel home and visit his wife Mallatobuck and son Lumpawaroo. He will mostly enjoy a home-cooked meal of wookie staples, and healthy amounts of cortyg brandy before a quiet night spent with his family.

Lando Calrissian:

Mothers, lock up your daughters – and yourselves, just to be safe . . . in fact you’d better just lock up everything – Lando is looking for love. He’s going to hit the hot spots in Bespin, Coruscant, and all the other planets that are full of eligible ladies ready to spend time with a real charmer. His exploits will go down in legend.

Whatever your plans, we hope your Valentine’s Day is great. Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit next week for more fun Star Wars information!

Which Star Wars Ship Should you Pilot?

A classic Star Wars ship
A classic Star Wars ship

There are tons of space-worthy ships in the Star Wars universe. From Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon to the Super Star Destroyer, there’s no shortage of options for a discerning pilot to choose from. Which ship is the right one for you?

Short-range fighter

Lacking the ability to travel faster than light speed, a fighter is a small, one- or two-person craft that is fast and maneuverable. Typically deployed in squadrons, these ships will work together to destroy larger craft or attack targets with great precision. They are weak on their own, but can still pack a sting if used correctly.

If you want to be a fighter pilot, you’ll need quick reflexes and an ingrained fight-or-flight instinct; battles that can be won must be done quickly or they will become much more dangerous much quicker. Your ship won’t have heavy shields (The A-wing fighter used by the rebel alliance has no shields), so you’ll have to stay on your toes.

The perfect well-known example of a starfighter pilot is Verne Troyer as Mini-Me. He’s quick, makes a high-pitched noise when he moves, and knows how to go for the vulnerable spots on a target. Plus, thanks to his small size, atmospheric missions will be easier for him due to reduced G forces.

Cruiser

Commonly presented as the biggest ships in a given fleet, cruisers have been seen from three-hundred and fifty meters up to six hundred and beyond (the Star Destroyers seen in the films are between one and two kilometers long). Possessing tremendous firepower and the ability to drop fighters or ground units, any fleet with a cruiser-class ship is a force to worry about.

Becoming the helmsman of a cruiser takes a vigilant control of the power at your fingertips. You might be leveling cities one day, or decimating a fleet of rebel scum the next, but whatever you do will terrifying your opponents and make your presence critical to the war effort.

Recent Super Bowl failures the Seattle Seahawks’ star running back Marshawn Lynch knows too well the weight of such crushing power. His ability to control and direct his own strength would no doubt prove useful in handling the destructive force of such a powerful ship.

Destroyer

Destroyers are much smaller than cruisers, similar to small cruisers that could operate in a fleet or on their own. “Star Destroyer,” while it may be confusing, is not an example of this ship. Cruisers are smaller, faster, and possess less system-conquering strength than their bigger brothers. They can still function as battleships in the fleet, but also peacekeepers and patrol units.

The destroyer is a strange class. With speed, firepower, and a daunting size – at least compared to starfighters. Those in control have to balance the strength of their big ships while also understanding that in a fight against a cruiser, or even two destroyers, they’re in trouble. However, this class can still hit hard, and has the speed to get away if need be.

Peter Parker’s alter-ego Spider-Man is an agile, speedy fighter with quite a lot of strength, but he isn’t invincible . . . he’s been killed what, a half-dozen times in his comic books? But he remains a dangerous enemy to the villains. With a combination of speed and power, Peter is the perfect person to pilot a destroyer.

Smuggling ship

Generally quite speedy, smuggling ships can come in any form, style, or size, though most are small and unassuming. They have hidden compartments to sneak things past imperial checkpoints, are usually speedy in case some wise captain does discover them, and can only be piloted by the smartest of smugglers.

To pilot a smuggling ship, you’ll need ferocious knowledge of your entire ship, repair skills, clandestine helpers that will get you cargo and sales, and of course excellent piloting skills. If Han Solo is any indication, a co-pilot seems necessary.

Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, played by Morgan Freeman from Shawshank Redemption, is the perfect smuggler pilot. In the movie he smuggles in countless items for the other inmates, seems to know everybody, and certainly knows the ropes of the prison, inside and out. Andy Dufresne could be his co-pilot.

Space station:

The biggest of them all. Barely a ship! A space station (let’s include the Death Star in this group) has more power than most ships can even imagine, even enough to obliterate an entire planet. One-hundred and twenty-three hyperdrive powered the Death Star across the galaxy with blazing speed, and even its smaller weapons number in the thousands.

Be the most powerful, the strongest, and the most terrifying person in the galaxy. Examples include Darth Vader and Darth Sidious.

Some of you may remember Gregor Clegane, “The Mountain that Rides,” from Game of Thrones. His actor season four actor, Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson, is an egregiously big World’s Strongest Man Competitor, standing at 6’ 9”, and all the pounds. On January thirty first of 2015, “Thor,” as he is called by friends, broke a weight-lifting record that has existed for a thousand years. This guy should be a space station pilot. This guy is practically a space station!

Thanks for reading this week’s Star Wars blog; come back later for more fun fan information!