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.