George Lucas, the critically acclaimed writer/director/producer of the supposed classic Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is a hack. I’ll say it again. George Lucas, the critically acclaimed writer/director/producer of the supposed classic Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, is a hack.
“But,” you may well be protesting, “He gave us great movies! Howard the Duck and Radioland Murders may well have moldered and festered in some producer’s file cabinet for all eternity had it not been for his pull! Think of a world without General Grievous!”
I don’t care. George Lucas is a hack. Myself and several thousand dedicated fans of Star Wars know this, but you, the uneducated, hick general populace haven’t yet wrapped your minds around a very simple fact: Greedo lives.
What? Did I just blow your mind or something? Didn’t Han shoot Greedo? Well yeah, in the movie he did, and in cold blood, but apparently you’ve never read the script or checked out a little book called Star Wars: From the Adventures of Greedo the Younger. That’s right: Greedo was the main character of Star Wars. The whole thing. Still don’t believe me? Would they make a commemorative bookend of his triumph over Han Solo if he wasn’t the hero of the story?
No, they wouldn’t have. Oh, you still don’t believe me? Luckily, I have a copy of that rare book, which was, in fact, written by Lucas himself! Here’s an excerpt:
“Going somewhere, Solo?”
The Corellian couldn’t identify the voice, coming as it did from an electronic translator. But there was no problem recognizing the speaker or the gun it held stuck in Solo’s side.
The creature was roughly man-sized and bipedal, but its head was something out of delirium by way of an upset stomach. It had huge, dull-faceted eyes, bulbous on a pea-green face. A ridge of short spines crested the high skull, while nostrils and mouth were contained in a tapirlike snout.
Greedo is meant to be sexy. Seeing him drives the women into fits of pregnant delirium. As if that isn’t enough…
“As a matter of fact,” Solo replied slowly, “I was just on my way to see your boss. You can tell Jabba I’ve got the money I owe him.”
“That’s what you said yesterday – and last week – and the week prior to that. It’s too late, Solo. I’m not going back to Jabba with another one of your stories.”
“But I’ve really got the money this time!” Solo protested.
“Fine. I’ll take it now, please.”
Solo sat down slowly. Greedo was well known throughout the galaxy for his keen Sabacc abilities – he could read a bluff from a mile away, and he was clearly bluffing. As if that wasn’t enough, Greedo was also well respected as one of the best gunslingers in all Mos Eisly, and quite the lady’s Rodian to boot. The alien took the seat across from him, the muzzle of his flashy little pistol never straying from Solo’s chest.
“I haven’t got it here with me. Tell Jabba-”
It’s too late, I think. Jabba would rather have your ship.”
“Over my dead body,” Solo said.
Something which might have been a laugh came from the creature’s translator. “That’s the idea,” Greedo replied.
Suddenly, light and noise filled the little corner of the cantina, and when it had faded, all that remained of the captain of the Millennium Falcon was a smoking, slimy spot on the stone floor.
From there, Greedo saved Luke and Obi-Wan countless times, screwed the Princess, blew up the Death Star, and shot Grand Moff Tarkin square between the eyes during a Mofference. It was a triumph. The executives at 20th Century Fox didn’t see it that way though. Audiences, they surmised, might not identify with Lucas’ Rodian hero…because he was a foreigner. (20th Century Fox’s history of xenophobia is well documented. In the first draft of Die Hard, Hans Gruber was the head of a foundation for terminally ill children.)
One can dismiss the claims of xenophobia maybe, as no official documents exist pertaining to why Greedo’s role in the Star Wars Universe was so dramatically scaled back, but they showed a particular lack of foresight (as if naming the company 20th Century Fox when a 21st century was inevitable wasn’t enough proof of that): Greedo became a massive cult figure.
Upon hearing of the rewrite, many fans wrote angry letters, but Lucas, swayed by the money, went ahead as studio execs had and gave the larger part of everything cool in Star Wars to Han Solo, even going so far as to show Han murdering Greedo in cold blood. The outrage was palpable.
In 1997, Lucas attempted to placate these fans by digitally altering the footage to make it seem as though Greedo got a shot off. This only made the Rodian warrior look more foolish: he misses from point blank range. Fan fury reached it’s peak, which resulted in Lucas’ taking a vow of silence and seclusion at his top secret fortress on Skywalker Ranch, appearing in public only to digitally alter his much maligned films and release the occasional artistic masterpiece (if you haven’t seen Attack of the Clones, you must). Every public appearance is another opportunity to mock his wide fanbase, who, for whatever reason, keep coming back for more.
“It’s only a movie” became Lucas’ mantra, “It’s only a movie. It’s only a movie.“
To the fans though, it was justice: an entire generation of children living without knowing the real story of Greedo, all while Lucas’ and 20th Century Fox made money well into the 21st century via (admittedly classic) films that tried to explain away the whole “alien bar thing,” as one faceless exec put it.
In 2004 though, a renegade Lucasfilm employee who was fed up with Lucas’ dictatorial, iron fist approach to his extremely light release schedule, stole the original prints of A New Hope, before Fox interfered and made possibly the worst mistake in movie history. For the first time, fans would finally see what really happened.
Sadly though, it seems as though Lucas was on to the ruse. Before the employee could release the disc through various reputable streams (comic book convention bootleg tables), he switched the discs, resulting in the copying and distribution of hundreds upon thousands of discs…where Han and Greedo shoot at the same time.
Lucas, blinded by the money in his vaults, forgot one critical thing: to erase Greedo from later scenes.
Not only that, but in the classic scene where Han confronts Jabba, there’s an entire family of Greedos. A plethora of Greedos!
This raises a whole new set of questions. Is there a print of the film out there that follows the classic first draft of the script? Does our pea-green anti-hero blow shit up and get the girl? Does Solo kill one of Greedo’s family members, prompting the Rodian to take out a blood oath on the cocksure young pilot? Was George Lucas really, deep down, a human at heart, pulled to the dark side with promises of unlimited power and the woman he loved?
Sometimes, when I’m thinking about how much better Star Wars would be with Greedo as the main character, I think that there might be some good left in George; that he’s the same idealistic young kid who went to Hollywood with a dream and an alien with a kick-ass vest. I like to think that we’ll find that George again and that one day, God willing, Greedo will finally have the role he deserved in that galaxy far, far away.
(Note: This am not piece of
Paul Arrand Rodgers
Paul Arrand Rodgers has this blog, and that's about it.