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February 26 2010

Great Geek Debates: Han Solo vs. Malcolm Reynolds. Curtis Silver of Geek Dad weighs in on the debate. There is voting at the bottom, of course.

you know, whedonite though I am, I'm TOTALLY going with Han Solo here.
I love my captain.
Han's cool, too, but Mal is my captain. :)
I voted for Mal, cause he's well - Mal!
"So which defines the outlaw cowboy lifestyle better? Falling in love with the romantic foil or denying the love to fully embrace the outlaw lifestyle?"

Well, I am not sure that's why Mal never entered into a relationship with Inara.
I'm torn. I'm a fan of being mighty but someone like Han Solo achieved iconic status inside and outside of the geek world. Mal only has honorable mention status in the geek world and zero mention in the civilian world.

I gotta give it to Han.
i didn't vote because i love them both and that is not an option. should be, but it's not.
Too close to call....

They both have awesome ships. They're both excellent shots and shoot first without asking questions. Han has a wookie and Mal has a Jayne....

Han is the more fun character. Mal is the more believable character.

Yeah, I say they're equal, with Han being just a little more equal....
I grew up with Han in the early 80s so it's got to be him.
Just because you two grew up together, Simon... oh, I see what you're saying ;).
I used to put his action figure in a big mug and put water in it and then stick in the freezer. My very young attempt at trying to carbonise Han.
mbeauparland, don't let George Lucas hear you say Han shot first!
:)

[ edited by alcabongTV on 2010-02-26 22:26 ]
Han shot first.

Just saying. :)
Simon: I used to put his action figure in a big mug and put water in it and then stick in the freezer. My very young attempt at trying to carbonise Han.

I love this. This kindof thing was the whole fun of dolls - I mean, *cough* action figures - for me.

I tried to burn Barbie of Arc at the stake, but I was stopped before I touched match to kindling. It was very sad - I'd made adorable tin foil armor and built a proper stake and everything.
I had a teacher who used Barbies to demonstrate of how the guillotine works. :D
Definitely Mal.
I used to put his action figure in a big mug and put water in it and then stick in the freezer.


I use to do this with my brothers Boba Fett action figure. He so hated me. I destroyed quite a few of his SW toys that could possibly be worth money now.
I think its interesting how exciting and "raw" the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back were. When those came out, nobody cared that Han shot first. He was a pirate. A rough, tough, no nonsense guy. Not quite the Comedian but not a wimp like the Night Owl.

Then George Lucas lost his religion and everything went to shit. When the force ceased to be a mysterious yin/yang power that was fueled by belief and a willingness to let ones self be guided by faith, it was all over. (I mean really, midichlorians? Really?)

With that said, Han Solo in A New Hope and Empire wins by a mile. Han Solo in Jedi is already a caricature of himself and Mal would laugh at him before disarming and humiliating Solo with some sort of interstellar wedgie.
Sorry Mal, but my vote goes to Han, no contest.

And I forgave George Lucas a lot when I saw a behind the scenes documentary about Indy 4 where he was wearing a 'Han Shot First' shirt on the set :D
I have to go with Han. Sorry Mal, you're number two.

It's not really a fair comparison though. 'Star Wars' is untouchable. Even Joss cites it as part of the inspiration for 'Firefly'.

To me, the Captain is like this generation's Han Solo. Meaning Nathan Fillion is (or should be) this generation's Harrison Ford.
Delurking to say Han did not shoot FIRST. That implies that Greedo still shot. Han just shot Greedo. The end.
Han Solo all the way! Sorry Fillion fans, but he's no Harrison Ford. Nobody can replace Mr. Ford!
Curse you, Internets! How dare you attempt to make me choose?
I (also) love my Captain.
There's pain in Mal. Depth. There is no Han Solo equivalent to the look in Mal's eyes when the Alliance ships were landing in Serenity Valley. He's buried people he loved who died right in front of him. He killed an old war buddy he still felt actual affection for. Han is The Lovable Rogue personified, but Mal transcends archetype. He's real to me, not just another cool badass. Mal FTW.

[ edited by shambleau on 2010-02-27 01:06 ]
Mal. No question. yeah, yeah, I get that Han was first, but come on. To be a really great cowboy, you have to have a tortured soul. Solo — not a tortured soul — more of a ham. But Mal — he's closer to some of the greatest Eastwood characters (think "Unforgiven" which is the best western, space or otherwise ever written.)

and from the feminine perspective, Mal is waaaaaaaaaay sexier than Han.

Just sayin'.
I choose Mal, for the reasons that shambleau cited above, and also because I find Han Solo incredibly annoying.
Han Solo was one of my first crushes... And Harrison Ford is (sorry) WAY sexier and more interesting of a film presence than Nathan Fillion. Han Solo was the original Captain Tight Pants (Hydrospanners, anyone?).

And the carbonite scene is very possibly the greatest scene in sci-fi/fantasy history for me. Just utterly heartbreaking/amazing. Empire Strikes Back, likewise is the film king of sci-fi/fantasy, probably only seconded by Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And well, being that I've seen most of Harrison Ford's filmography, I would say that I'm a fan--especially of the American Graffiti, Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Points to Witness, Blade Runner, etc...

Speaking of Blade Runner, Fray is to Blade Runner (the whole look of the world is straight out of it) what Mal Reynolds is to Han Solo. A lot of Firefly/Serenity is also a pretty blatant homage of Blade Runner (right down to the Chinese language).

Joss takes quite liberally from numerous Harrison Ford movies.

Awakening was a straight-up Indiana Jones fantasy.
I use to do this with my brothers Boba Fett action figure. He so hated me. I destroyed quite a few of his SW toys that could possibly be worth money now.

You hurt the Fett darua? There's no coming back from that, you know.
As Uncle Walt once said, "Oh Captain, my Captain..."

I like Star Wars and all, but Firefly/Serenity is much, much better IMO.
There's pain in Mal. Depth. There is no Han Solo equivalent to the look in Mal's eyes when the Alliance ships were landing in Serenity Valley. He's buried people he loved who died right in front of him. He killed an old war buddy he still felt actual affection for. Han is The Lovable Rogue personified, but Mal transcends archetype. He's real to me, not just another cool badass. Mal FTW.

That one long shot of Mal's face at the beginning of Serenity (the pilot episode) - gets me every time.
I gotta go with Mal. Sorry, Solo.
Mal wins if and only if it is proved that Solo now, or ever has been guilty of herding nerf.
I LOVE my Captain.
"Barbie of Arc" OMG.

QuoterGal for the win.
A lot of Firefly/Serenity is also a pretty blatant homage of Blade Runner (right down to the Chinese language).

It's Japanese in Bladerunner, I believe. And speaking of blatant homages, Bladerunner owes Metropolis big time, from the rich in their highrises lording it over the teeming masses below to Maria the robot as the protype for replicants.

Mileage varies on who's sexier, of course. For me, one measurement is sexual chemistry. Nathan has it with whoever he's paired with - Morena Baccarin, Melinda Clark and Christina Hendricks in Firefly, Kata Stanic in Castle, Kerri Russell in Waitress, Elizabeth Banks in Slither, and, from reviews I've read, Michelle Monaghan in Trucker. Hell, he even has it with himself in Dr Horrible.

Harrison Ford is more hit or miss - sparks with Kelley Mcgillis in Witness, Carrie Fisher in Star Wars and Karen Allen in Raiders, but fizzles with Julia Ormond in Sabrina and Anne Heche in Six Days Seven Nights.

So, I'm gonna go with Nathan on this too.

[ edited by shambleau on 2010-02-27 04:24 ]

[ edited by shambleau on 2010-02-27 04:28 ]
well, NileQT87 I totally agree with you on the Fray—Blade Runner analogy and thought it myself before you noted it here. Now if we were comparing Deckard to Mal it would be a little tougher call for me — again more tortured (though Deckard not so much the cowboy). I guess more complex = sexy to me.

(i wonder if there's something wrong with me...)
I tried to burn Barbie of Arc at the stake, but I was stopped before I touched match to kindling. It was very sad - I'd made adorable tin foil armor and built a proper stake and everything.
Y'know, that kind of explains a lot QG.
I wanna see the Han Solo/Mal Reynolds buddy outlaw space western. It's right up there with my wanting to see the short with Jack Bauer and John McClane at a bar, drinking and commiserating on the various bad days they've had.
You hurt the Fett darua? There's no coming back from that, you know.


hmm...then it's a good thing I didn't tell you about the landspeeder I apparently broke. or how i tore the legs off other action figures. i should be placed in the evil league of evil for everything i've done to my brothers stuff.
What... You mean everyone didn't try to light their "dolls" on fire? Ah. Well... That's... Hmm. So this means that regularly flinging all sorts of dolls/action figures out of the second story window so they can parachute and escape from their fiery failing plane as it's being strafed and then having them catching all kinds of flak from the fire crackers we attached is unusual?

And I'm going to have to go with Mal for this one. I think TV Tropes said it very well when it quoted Power Screenwriting: The 12 Stages of Story Development by Michael Chase Walker and it's "Outlaw Myth" as:

Here, the Hero was halfway through his voyage when he stumbled and fell. We pick up the tale somewhat after that point, when he's already become entrenched in the underworld. No longer does he have the option of completing his quest - but he still has a chance to flee, to return to the surface wounded but alive. He can only do this by clinging to the little virtue he has left.


That's got Mal written all over it. I never had the impression that Han was ever heroic before he got mixed up in the rebellion.

For those interested in reading more, here is the link.
I've always felt that Mal was Han done right. More real. Han was the greatest character in which to model Mal after. Han was the best, but Mal is Han 2.0 . . . in HD.
Ok, might be a long post. Or I might catch the succinct bug. I'm going with Mal. Han Solo in Empire is as close to Mal as he gets and the character doesn't have near the story arc for me that Mal does. Perhaps if Lucas had heeded Ford's request to have Solo die in Jedi it would be different. As a kid playing Star Wars with the other kids in the neighborhood the guys all wanted to be Han Solo, at least until Jedi; and then we wanted to be Luke so we could do jump-off-the-diving-board-spin-around-and-catch-the-end-then-flip-up-and-catch-our-lightsaber type moves. Though those who chose to be Luke in Empire because he got to kiss Leia first were put off by the crap brother/sister plot device in Jedi (sorry if I spoiled that for anyone). Anywho, as someone who is a huge, HUGE fan of Empire, I would trade you all 3 Star Wars films for Firefly and Serenity. I'm keeping my Empire soundtrack albums and CDs though because it's just epic and I love it.
As for the burning, defacing, destrution of action figures: our Star Wars, GI Joe , et al figures saw their fair share of fires, freezing, falling, catapulting, etc. But my favorite was the castle Lego figures we, through the application of a lighter, transformed into sword-impaled, hatchet-vivisectioned, mace-decapitated grotesqueries. It was the same with Hot Wheel/Matchbox cars: Hey my car's been in an accident; hand me that rock.
As a final comparison in the Mal/Han debate, both have cool, low-slung holster pistols. I thought I was going somewhere further, but no.
barboo: Y'know, that kind of explains a lot QG.

; > I think my Mom thought so too, barboo. I was always a bit Wednesday-ish, although I had an art teacher who thought I was kinda more Haley Mills-in-The-Chalk-Garden-ish. My folks used to call me the Bad Seed (and yeah, they let me read it and watch the film on TV).

There was a resemblance.

But from the sounds of this thread, I'm getting that many whedonesque-kids enjoyed the Doll Destruction Drama. ; >

Oh, and for the record: Mal, Mal, Mal - by far, the more interesting and layered character.
QuoterGal: Oh, and for the record: Mal, Mal, Mal - by far, the more interesting and layered character.

How can we doubt the judgement of someone who made foil armour for their Barbie of Arc?

Mal, it must be Mal.

For the record I'd just like to say that much as I love the Millennium Falcon, as spaceships go, I prefer Serenity.
As a huge fan of Harrison Ford in all his earlier films (SW, Blade Runner and Raiders trilogy especially) this was a little difficult. I thought about it hard for at least ten seconds.

It's Mal all the way.
I had real diffculty in deciding, but I had to go with Mal in the end! I love them both, but Mal is just, well, Mal!
Oh yes, Silvius: there is no question that Serenity is the best ship ever... I never felt any desire to live on the Millennium Falcon, but I still dream of building a full sized Serenity replica (and day dream about living on the original).
The Boba Fett phenomenon seems to demonstrate that you don't need a lot of complexity to be totally awesome. Here's a character with hardly any screen time and barely a line of dialogue in two films, yet he's one of the most popular and iconic characters of the entire franchise.

Aside from the fact that he's a skilled bounty hunter, we have no idea who he is or if he's even human. But he has that certain something.

It's all down to gut feelings for me: I like Han, I don't particularly like Mal. Plus, there's a Wookiee involved.

[ edited by nasarius on 2010-02-27 21:24 ]
Nah, I'd rather live on the Millennium Falcon. It's a much nicer-looking ship with more personality. Com'on. It was designed after a bitten hamburger with an olive sticking out of it on a toothpick. LOL!

Mal just doesn't appeal to me at all. Han beats him in both looks, piloting skills and personality, IMO. And Chewie? Best sidekick ever.

And give me the Han/Leia relationship any day (megawatt sparkage and über-barbs) over Mal/Inara anyday (underwhelming fizzle? honestly, it just didn't progress far enough to compare).

And I must say it again: the carbonite scene. As much as I love Joss, nothing in Firefly/Serenity comes close. At least Serenity finally got a direction that the series didn't have, but it's still not Bespin.
Mal. Mal, Mal, Mal. One of, if not topping the list, my favorite characters ever. EVER. Perfectly written, perfectly back-storied and arc-ed. But most of all? Perfectly cast. Without Mal I might not have my current favorite actor to follow.

People don't like Mal? Add it to the (always growing) list of reasons I will never understand them (people).

While the carbonite scene is great, the scene that made Mal for me forever was the end of Ariel when he almost airlocked Jayne. Maybe my fave scene of the series. Han never did anything like that.

[ edited by guidedby on 2010-02-28 04:00 ]
I have to point out that I think there's a distinction between really liking Mal as a person, and preferring him to Han as a character.

It took me two or three episodes - and that's watching the DVDs later, not when it first aired - to tolerate Mal as a "person," but I thought him a great fictional character (beautifully brought to life by Nathan) from the start. As someone I want to have as a bosom-buddy? Not so much. I would engage him as a bodyguard, though.

People I would want to hang with, and people that help to make compelling stories, are often two quite different things - at least for me.

But that's a blurring that I hear folks do quite often - they say they don't like a character, and then follow it up with criticism of the character's personality flaws - selfishness, cruelty, etc. etc. (Even weirder, they then project their dislike of these character traits onto the actor, which strikes me as beyond bizarre.)

Character flaws aren't reasons to find someone an unbelievable or badly-written character (sadly, au contraire) - those are reasons not to engage them as a babysitter.

ETF: spelling

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2010-02-28 21:42 ]
I understand that QG, but I actually like Mal as a person. Not saying we'd be bestest buds, but I think he has many likable traits.

I also definitely love many characters that I despise as 'people.'

But mainly I was referring to people not liking his character, as I think he's perfect. Definite No man-crush here.
I couldn't possibly express my reasons for going with Mal as well as this, so I'll just quote:

There's pain in Mal. Depth. There is no Han Solo equivalent to the look in Mal's eyes when the Alliance ships were landing in Serenity Valley. He's buried people he loved who died right in front of him. He killed an old war buddy he still felt actual affection for. Han is The Lovable Rogue personified, but Mal transcends archetype. He's real to me, not just another cool badass. Mal FTW.

shambleau | February 27, 01:05 CET


Kudos for succinct eloquence, shambleau.

I would only add that what this means to me, is that Mal (and Firefly/Serenity) is for grownups, while Han Solo & the Star Wars saga is for kids of all ages.
(Please note the "of all ages", Star Wars fans, and understand that no offense is meant). It's just a matter of taste, and I should be well known by now, for my penchant for the deep, dark stuff.

I just have to go with the darker, in-depth, totally grownup version. And as good an actor as Harrison Ford has become, I think Nathan is far better. From Caleb to Mal to "Waitress" to Captain Hammer to Castle? Now that's range.

So I love not only my Captain, but also the actor who brings him to such rich, nuanced life.
Forget simple comparison . . . I'd love to see these two in a balls-to-the-wall shootout, with their three best (NON-force-user) people backing them up. Han, Leia, Chewie, and Lando vs Mal, Zoe, Jayne, and Wash, blaster bolts and bullets flying down the alleyways of some backwater space port. Oh, what a war it would be!
Currently, it's no contest: Han has 86% of the vote.

I think this speaks more to familiarity than it does to the differences between the characters. Han is more familiar to most folks, and therefore more popular. Either more people should watch Firefly (Duh!) or more Browncoats should vote.
nasarius, Bobba Fett is not an "unknown." We know he's human and the clone "son" of Jango Fett. We first met Bobba as a kid in Attack of the clones. Then when Sam Jackson cuts off his head in the battle royal at the end of the movie, Bobba walks over and picks up his helmet. (is his head still in that thing? ewww)

He's also very popular in the books and comics--so there's lots of canon back story for the character.

edited for grammar

[ edited by alexreager on 2010-02-28 16:45 ]
"nasarius, Bobba Fett is not an "unknown." We know he's human and the clone "son" of Jango Fett. We first met Bobba as a kid in Attack of the clones. Then when Sam Jackson cuts off his head in the battle royal at the end of the movie, Bobba walks over and picks up his helmet."

We know more now, but back in the day all we knew about Boba Fett was that he was the villian in a poorly animated short during the Star Wars Christmas Special and that you could get one "free" if you sent Kenner 4 proof of purchases.... Screen time wise, even now I doubt he has a full twenty lines counting ESB, RotJ, and his prequel appearances as Baby Fett.

Ultimately comparing Han and Mal is a matter of apples to weasels. The style and writing of their respective franchises is too different. It does make me wonder how cool a remake of all six Star Wars films would be if done by a ballsy director and excellent screen writer, less concerned about gross commercial success than with presenting the best possible story. Hmmm, I wonder who such a person could be...?
Mal.

Because never would it be a matter of the slightest doubt whether HE shot first.
I went with Mal. I have washed my hands of all that is Star Wars.

Now Indiana Jones...
Mal's clearly the winner. Han is just that guy who was the foil of the genuinely important character, Luke Skywalker. Yeah, that's right! What?!

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