That's no Wookie, that's my wife!

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One of the most distressing things about the Star Wars prequels is realizing that the problem isn't so much that Lucas "lost" it so much as maybe he never had it. Or maybe he did--I'm trying to process what I just read at

They've put up an old interview from 1998, with the authors of the script for The Star Wars Holiday Special, that legendary bit of pop ephemera from 1978 that marked the first appearances of such classic Star Wars characters as Boba Fett, Lumpy, Ackmena and Chef Gormaanda. (Pop quiz! Not all of those are classic Star Wars characters! Which one doesn't belong?) I have murky memories of actually watching the Holiday Special when it aired--or at least the first half; my parents, miserable creatures that they are, made me go to bed halfway through and somehow neglected to anticipate that the Special would become a quasi-mythical piece of pop-cultural kitsch and therefore failed to purchase a VCR in anticipation of the program's airing. (That's two strikes!) But I did see the debut of Boba Fett, though of course nobody knew who he was for another three years, and remembered seeing at least some of the show during the lean years when Lucas attempted to deny that it existed at all.

But perhaps I'm avoiding the subject. My poor brain had gotten used to a Star Wars installment featuring Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, and Jefferson Starship. And then, today, I read this comment from script co-author Lenny Ripps (bracketed comments in the original, emphasis added):

RIPPS: To me, it didn't come together. The ideas were all right but I'm not sure that they belonged in the same room. What was interesting to me was that Lucas started talking about Star Wars as if it was a real world. He said things like "Well, you know Han Solo is married to a Wookiee, but we can't say that." Now that was 20 years ago [in 1998], so my memory may be wrong. [As outrageous as Ripps's recollection sounds, there is evidence supporting it. Pat Proft corroborates it and an early draft of the Star Wars script (January 28, 1975) has Han Solo living with a furry female creature who he kisses. Proft also remembers learning that Han was raised by Wookiees, which is verified on pages 46 & 131 of Laurent Bouzereau's Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays.]


Hang on. Let me get my head together and rephrase that.


I knew about the "Han raised by Wookies" thing--I mean, everybody knows that was one of the ideas Lucas played with at one point. But Han was married to a Wookie?

What the hell would their kids have looked like?

I mean, until you're old enough to realize that the Force was strong with Sir Alec Guinness in real life, you know that Han Solo is the baddest-ass good guy in the original Star Wars; as it is, coming in second to Obi-Wan Kenobi is a helluva accomplishment.1

But I'm having to reconsider that: if Han Solo was at home getting Wookie Love, we-he-he-hell, that puts things in a new light, doesn't it? Han Solo may have been more of a man than anyone ever thought.

Of course, if Chewie was Han's "wife," then Star Wars really was ahead of its time in a whole lot of ways.

But who says this idea was ever really abandoned--maybe this is the plot of the next Star Wars novel: Han is married to Leia, they have the Jedi twins and all that, when Han's first wife, who he's still married to shows up on their doorstep. Not happy with Leia, either, one imagines.

A friend I mentioned this to just now says the tagline could be, "Wookies mate for life." Tagline, hell--there's your title: Lifemate.


Han Solo being married to a Wookie is either the awesomest idea in Star Wars history, or the worst--it might be both, an idea that loops around and eats its own tail Ouroboros-like.

I'll get back to you if when I know for sure.

1Obi-Wan is the biggest badass in the original Star Wars. I'm not knocking Han Solo, who I idolized for years. But you get a little older, you start noticing that Obi-Wan is one cool sonofabitch, the closest thing the movie has to a Samuel Jackson. Seriously.

Let me illustrate. There's a scene in Star Wars--and by "Star Wars," of course I mean the movie that later was renamed "A New Hope" but shall always be simply Star Wars to me, like it was in 1977--there's a scene, anyway, where Obi-Wan is getting ready to run off to turn off the tractor beam, and he's telling Luke to stay behind in the control room with the droids and Han and Chewie. Obi-Wan puts his hand on the boy's shoulder as he presses the door control, passing on some wisdom or advice or something--and here's the thing: they're in the middle of the bad guys' super-fortress starbase planet-destroying moon-sized Nest Of Evil, and Ben opens this door... with his back to it. Finishes talking to Luke, and then, he just sort of glances over his shoulder to see the hallway is empty.

And the way Alec Guinness does it isn't that Obi-Wan is a dumbass who's going to get himself shot. No, the way Sir Alec does it is basically, "I'm a motherfucking pimp, and if some punkass stormtrooper is at the door to shoot me when I open it, they're going to have to fucking wait until I'm finished talking to my slightly-retarded protégé, here." The man is cooler than cool. He knows that if a stormtrooper sees Obi-Wan-Fucking-Kenobi standing with his back to the door, that stormtrooper is going to be too busy soiling his body armor to shoot him in the back. Kind of like when Verbal asks how you shoot the devil in the back in The Usual Suspects--"What if you miss?" he whines to Inspector Kujan. Damn straight. In Kenobi's case, the answer is, "He cuts your fucking arm off if you miss, is what happens. You wanna spend the rest of your short miserable life with one fucking arm, you 'tard?"


Nathan Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 2:33:00 PM EST  

You're one seriously disturbed fuck. Yes, you are.

(I mean that in the good way.)

Michael Rawdon Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 2:45:00 PM EST  

I remember seeing the Star Wars Holiday Special when it aired. I would have been nine, I guess. I remember being bitterly disappointed in it at the time, too. Some sort of life lesson there.

Speaking of kitchy 70s crap, have you ever seen Legends of the Superheroes? Ye gods.

mattw Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 2:59:00 PM EST  

What do you think Chewie's moaning growl is for? Chewie's probably a screamer.

Seriously though, I think if Han would have been married to a Wookie that would have taken a lot of credibility away fromt the character.

And I'm seriously doubting that George "Greedo Shot First" Lucas ever really had it, and that maybe he just duped people into thinking he had it for a while. Or I could be wrong, a massive ego trip based on the success of the original trilogy could have induced his stupidity.

I remember really liking the Ewoks movies as a kid, but then I was the right age when they came out. Never saw the mythical Holiday Special. And holey shit does that Legends of the Superheroes look bad.

Along similar lines, some time in the last year I watched a documentary about the Adam West Batman show and how towards the end of its run the studio was running out of money. They had an episode where the villians all turned themselves invisible somehow and to level the playing field Batman turned the lights out during the fight. Basically all the viewer saw was a black screen with the occasional BIFF! or POW! and the fight sound effects.

MWT Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 4:31:00 PM EST  

"and Ben opens this door... with his back to it."

Or he was using the Force to sense that there was nobody on the other side, and therefore it was safe to do that. ;)

Eric Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 5:00:00 PM EST  

Or he was using the Force to sense that there was nobody on the other side, and therefore it was safe to do that. ;)

And that makes him less of a badass pimp how, exactly? :-)

MWT Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 6:27:00 PM EST  

I wasn't saying he wasn't a badass. Just postulating a different method of badassness. ;)

Jeff Hentosz Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 7:48:00 PM EST  

"What the hell would their kids have looked like?"

At last! A question I can answer with nearly Jedi-like confidence: like this.

And I'm not being silly either. Here's evidence.

Nobody ever takes me seriously.

Jim Wright Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 1:53:00 PM EST  

OK, don't ever, ever do that again. I've got hot fucking coffee dripping out of my dose. Bastard.

Gives a whole new dimension to the Solo line "I don't care what it smells like, you big furry oaf, get in there!"

Anne C. Friday, January 2, 2009 at 2:55:00 PM EST  

You're totally right about the Obi-Wan badassedness. Han improvs his way through a rescue, Obi-Wan never feels like he's lost control, even when things aren't going their way. Never loses his cool.

As he says "in my world, there's no such thing as luck." Total badass.

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