During a recent viewing of the original Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope just to make sure we’re all on the same page) with my son, Ben, I noticed a problem with how Han Solo at one point in the movie. Admittedly, the “problem” is sort of a minor one, one of the type often made by overly critical”fanboys.” Overall, I try not to engage in such criticisms, but I imagine that this type of post may occur from time to time and, so, “Fanboy Gripes” likely will be a recurring item on this blog.
Ben and I are watching the scene where the Millenium Falcon has been pulled onto the Death Star and Han and Luke, dressed as stormtroopers, are sneaking into the security room with Chewbacca. There’s a firefight, Chewbacca roars, and Luke complains (as he is wont to do in the that movie), about the noise from Chewie’s bellowing and Han’s gun blasts and Han says:
“Bring ’em on, I prefer a straight fight to all of this sneaking around.”
Now, I’ve seen this scene more times that I can count. I have even listened to this bit of dialogue far more times when I was a kid listening to an audio version on a cassette tape. Until the other night, I didn’t think twice at Han’s line. The other night, though, it occurred to me that, this line, in the words of my son, “makes no sense.”
Han Solo is a smuggler, a career that is primarily defined by sneaking around and avoiding “straight up fights.” Indeed, the movie established earlier that Han has a bounty on his head because he dumped cargo after he feared that the cargo would be discovered by Imperial forces during a boarding of the Falcon. Essentially, in order to avoid a straight up fight, he dumped his transport.
Moreover, there is nothing else in this Star Wars movie or any other Star Wars matter that indicates that Han prefers straight fights to sneaking around. In fact, in all of the “straight fights” in the four movies in which Han appears, Han arguably takes part in only one straight fight (on Endor against the stormtroopers) and even that one only occurred because his group of commandos were caught in an ambush, after sneaking around. Indeed, Han adopted that mission as its leader rather than to lead the Rebel forces in the straight fight against the second Death Star (which his friend Lando Calrissian did, using Han’s own ship).
No, the line just doesn’t fit the character and it doesn’t make sense in the context of the film.
If it doesn’t fit, then why was the line in the movie.? I think the reason relates to a common writing error: letting plot override character consistency. Thus far in the movie, there had been a low level of conflict/rivalry between Luke and Han. Lucas wanted to continue this pattern, but at the same time, he needed to make Luke, as the lead character, look a little better than Han. As a result, he had Han (and Chewie) do something that, as smugglers, they should have known not do to: cause a noisy ruckus in the Death Star. Han had to have a reason for his actions, so Lucas came up with the preference for the straight fight.
Does it matter? Does it make the movie or character of Han Solo any less than the classics they are? Nope, at least for me (especially since I admitted that it took so many multiple viewings to spot the issue). Still, it would have been nice to see some better character development.
If you have any thoughts on the line or its logic, feel free to leave a comment below.