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Top 10 Star Wars Controversies

By Kat
Staff Writer

August 6, 2009

As a pop culture phenomenon with a strong fan following, the Star Wars movies have been subject to more scrutiny than most other films. Hotly contested oversights, additions and mysteries are all represented as counts down the Top 10 Star Wars Controversies.

10. Yoda's Species
What species is Yoda? OK, this is maybe more of a mystery than a controversy, but the topic of Yoda's species is nevertheless a popular point of discussion.

Don't expect this puzzle to be solved any time soon--George Lucas insists that he wants to keep Yoda's past a mystery.


9. The Kessel Run In Less Than 12 Parsecs
In A New Hope, Han Solo brags that the Millennium Falcon is "...the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. She's fast enough for you, old man." The problem? Parsecs are a measurement of distance, not time. People provide varying explanations for his claim. Some see the phrase as another example of Han boasting or lying and not really knowing what he's talking about. Others say Han was simply avoiding the issue of the Falcon's speed. Others still claim the use of the word parsec was simply an error in the film. Mistake or not, both the A New Hope novelization and radio drama dodged any confusion by replacing "parsecs" with "standard time units" and "time parts," respectively.

  Kessel Run
8. No Medal for Chewie
At the end of A New Hope Princess Leia hangs medals around the necks of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, honoring their crucial roles in the destruction of the Death Star. Han Solo's Wookiee side kick, who piloted the Millennium Falcon along side Solo, receives no such medal in the film. Many fans cried foul. The controversy was rectified...sort of. The MTV Movie Awards honored Chewbacca with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher hung a medal around his head at the ceremony.

  No medal Chewie

7. The Relationship Between Luke and Leia
During A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Luke becomes infatuated with Leia. Then in The Empire Strikes Back viewers watch the pair share a kiss only to discover that Luke and Leia are twins in Return of the Jedi. Can anyone say...awkward? Lucasfilm poked fun at itself on April Fool's Day in 2001 by constructing a fake retro website, styled to look like it was made in 1979. A poll on the website asked visitors, "Who do you think Princess Leia should end up with?" Visitors could select either Han or Luke. Luke won the joke poll with a 65% vote.

  Luke and Leia kissing

6. Ewoks
The cuddly Ewoks in Return of the Jedi came under scrutiny for many of the same reasons as the Prequel Trilogy's Jar Jar Binks. The teddy bear like creatures seemed to exist mainly to appeal to children and as an excuse for more merchandising opportunities, some fans claimed. George Lucas says that he wanted to depict a victory of a primitive tribe over the technologically skilled Empire, a theme that other fans enjoy and embrace.


5. Death of Chewbacca
No, Chewbacca didn't die in any of the movies, nevertheless his passing sent shockwaves through fan communities and the mainstream media alike. Chewbacca died saving Han and Leia's son, Anakin Solo, in the post-Return of the Jedi novel entitled Vector Prime. The author of the novel, R.A. Salvatore, received piles of hate mail--and even a few death threats--after the book was released in 1999.


4. Hayden Christensen Force Ghost
In 2004, George Lucas decided to change the Force Ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Originally, actor Sebastian Shaw had appeared as the ghost of Anakin. Lucas tweaked the scene, replacing Shaw with Hayden Christensen in an effort to tie the Prequel and the Original trilogies together. Some fans felt cheated by the change, saying that seeing Hayden's image was distracting and a mark of disrespect to Shaw. Film critic Roger Ebert defended the change, saying, "I think it's actually a little poetic that Anakin goes off to Jedi Valhalla in the form he had before he Turned."
  Anakin Force Ghost

3. The Prequel Trilogy
Sometimes the list of grievances against the Prequel Trilogy seems endless: hatred for Jar Jar, accusations of bad chemistry between Natalie Portman (Padme) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin), claims of bad writing...the list goes on. Some have gone as far as to not acknowledge the Prequel Trilogy's existence at all--the only real Star Wars is the Original Trilogy, these extremists claim. All three Prequel films earned mixed reviews, whereas the Original Trilogy films had garnered more widespread praise. Nevertheless, all six films became smash hits at the box office, with a combined domestic gross of over two billion dollars.

  Prequel Trilogy
2. Jar Jar Binks
The hapless Gungan was a major marketing vehicle for the Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He provided a tangible example of how far technology had advanced since Return of the Jedi's release a decade and half earlier.

Jar Jar's clumsiness was intended to provide comic relief and appeal to young children. Many fans weren't laughing. Critics lashed out a the character. "I Hate Jar Jar Binks" websites and message board topics starting springing up online. Some fans even called for the character to be killed off. Nevertheless, Jar Jar lives on, making frequent appearances in The Clone Wars television series.

  Jar Jar Binks

1. Han Shot First
Who would have thought that such a minor moment in A New Hope would prompt a such fierce debate and public outcry? In the original version of A New Hope, Han shoots and kills a minor bounty hunter named Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina.

In the 1997 Special Edition version of the movie, George Lucas decided to tweak the scene to so that Greedo shoots at Han first, misses, and then Han returns fire, killing the bounty hunter. Having Han shoot Greedo in defense rather than attack sets a better example for children, Lucas claimed. Some fans dislike the change, saying that there's no way that Greedo's shot would have missed Han--he was shooting at point-blank range. Other fans say that Han is the type of guy who shoots first and having Greedo shoot first weakens his tough guy persona. The debate has inspired: T-shirts, pop culture references, and a band named Greedo Shot First, which is why "Han Shot First" is the number one Star Wars controversy of all time.

  Han Shot First


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