Next month a new Star Wars movie comes out, which just seems insane, but here we are. Solo: A Star Wars Story will show us what our favorite spice smuggler was up to before the events of the first Star Wars movie and detail things like the Kessel Run and how Han won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. This is all fine and dandy, but what I really hope to find out is … why is it that Han Solo is so bad with money?
Look, we don’t know a lot about Han Solo’s life before he met Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi on Tatooine. (I guess this all changes in May.) But there are enough clues spread throughout Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back to let us know that Han Solo is really bad with money and a lot of his troubles seem self-inflicted.
Okay, let’s dig in: So, when the events of the first Star Wars start, Han is already in debt. This one probably isn’t his fault. Greedo confronts Han at the Mos Eisley Cantina demanding the money that Han owes Jabba the Hutt. Instead, Han kills Greedo (this is what happened; there is no controversy surrounding this), but during their conversation, we learn Han was smuggling “something” and had to ditch it before the Empire inspected his ship. Whatever that something was, it was owned by Jabba the Hutt and now Jabba wants compensation.
In a scene that wasn’t in the original theatrical release but is now in the official version, Han and Jabba have a confrontation – and they seem to be on pretty good terms! Jabba doesn’t even seem to care that Han killed Greedo. Han made it clear he’d pay Jabba soon because he was about to make some money and Jabba accepted this explanation. What a weird scene! It’s probably the least stressful, most openly pleasant scene between someone who owes money and a crime boss in cinematic history. Jabba seems pretty reasonable!
So we know Han negotiated 17,000 credits from Luke and Ben for transport to Alderaan. (Well, “negotiated,” because Han only asked for 10,000 and Ben upped the offer in return for not having to pay it all now.) We also know there was even more reward offered for rescuing Leia from the Death Star. It’s not entirely clear that Han received more than 17,000, but it’s certainly implied. Leia even sarcastically tells him that if money is all he wants, that’s what he will get. So it seems safe to say Han got a lot of money by the time he reached the Rebel base on Yavin 4.
(As an aside, I’d love to watch an A Star Wars Story movie about the TIE Fighter pilots who battled the Millennium Falcon as it was fleeing the Death Star. What were they told their plan was? Remember, Vader and Tarkin wanted the Falcon to escape so it could be tracked to the secret Rebel base. What were these pilots told to do? “Okay. So we have a really important mission for you. We need to you go after that ship, but you need to die in the process. But make it look good! Alright, the Empire is counting on you. Good luck!”)
Han was then going to leave right before the attack on the Death Star to pay off Jabba but got guilt-tripped into helping Luke and he became a hero. That’s great! But Han still needed to pay off his debts. When The Empire Strikes Back starts, set three whole years after Star Wars, Han, inexplicably, still hasn’t paid Jabba! Han mentions to Leia that he decided he probably needed to pay his debts after running into a bounty hunter on Ord Mantell. Oh, that’s what made him change his mind? Han Solo is bad with money! There’s no reason Han couldn’t have left for a couple of days, paid Jabba with his new fortune, then come back to the Rebellion. But, nope, he didn’t. Again, Jabba seemed really reasonable in Star Wars, Han could have paid him right after the movie ended, which was like a day after they met.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. The Empire is looking for Han and Jabba might betray him for even more money from the Empire. First, if Han went right away there’s no way the Empire would have done that so quickly. And second, Han clearly tells General Rieekan in Empire that “if I don’t pay off Jabba the Hutt, I’m a dead man.” So this is clearly still an option. (Also, Rieekan didn’t really put up much of a fight in that conversation. I get the sense Rieekan didn’t like Han much and was secretly pleased Han was leaving. “Oh, you have to leave? What a shame. Because we could just send someone to pay this off for you, but you leaving is a much better idea.”) If this was no longer an option, Han would have said, “I am jeopardizing the Rebellion with all these bounty hunters chasing me, I need to go somewhere and hide.” So Han decided to let the juice run for three years and then pay off Jabba – when Jabba is no longer reasonable. What a dumb thing. Maybe, before this episode with Han, Jabba was known throughout the galaxy as “the reasonable crime lord,” and then his whole personality changed once Han decided to not pay for no good reason. What did Han do with all his money? Maybe he gave it back to the Rebellion? That’s nice, but that doesn’t sound like something Han would do and, also, that’s stupid.
Han finally got his debts paid when Han and his friends decided to just kill his debtor. We’ve never really looked at this from Jabba’s side before. Jabba may be the victim in all this. If Han and Jabba had gone before Judge Judy, I’m fairly certain Judge Judy would rule in favor of Jabba. And for all Jabba’s trouble, he winds up being choked to death.
(In the original Marvel Star Wars comic run, the first issue after the events of Return of the Jedi is all about how Han now doesn’t have any money and no one will lend him anything. It’s nowhere near canon anymore, if it ever was in the first place, but it is amusing.)
Also, why is there all this drama about Han leaving in Empire, never to return? He says he’s going to pay off Jabba, why can’t he just come back? The only thing that makes any sense is because Han knows he’s so bad with money that he will wind up buying something with Jabba’s money and screw the whole thing up again. By the time we see him in The Force Awakens, he’s lost his ship and is being chased for money again. Kylo Ren probably did the galaxy a favor. I bet the galaxy’s economy stabilized once Han Solo wasn’t around anymore to screw it all up. So, again, if anything, I hope Solo: A Star Wars Story explains this. I hope we learn Han was going to be an accountant and something went wrong and now he rebels against his credit score – because there is no one worse with money than Han Solo in the entire Star Wars galaxy. He brought on all his problems himself.
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