In The Empire Strikes Back, when Lando sells out Han and the good guys to the Empire he arranges a meeting where he leads Han, Leia, and Chewbacca into an ambush. When the doors open and Han sees who is in the room, he reacts immediately and shoots at Vader. Why does he do this? Is Vader so well known as a bad guy or is it because he recognizes him from the few seconds he saw him escaping the death star?

  • 4
    Yes Vader is well known, also 3 years have passed since New Hope...would be odd for Han to be a member of the Rebellion and not know who such a leading figure in the empire is. And he is wearing Stormtrooper-ish armor amongst stormstroopers ... by his different appearance you can deduct that he is an important player and therefor a priority target.
    – A.bakker
    Nov 7 '20 at 9:51

Most rebels would recognize Darth Vader in the same way that many WWII soldiers would have recognized Hitler, even though they never saw him. Photos and verbal descriptions would be enough. But Han had seen Vader fighting Obi Wan on the Death Star. Leia very likely would have explained who the giant guy in all black armor was in the time since.

As to why would Han's reaction be to draw and shoot as fast as he did, instinct. Despite what George Lucas would have you believe with his silly retcon, Han Solo was happy to shoot first and dispatch a dangerous enemy if the opportunity presented itself. When suddenly faced with such an immediate and deadly threat, Han's first instinct was to shoot.

  • Thanks for responding seriously. It was always something that stuck in my mind that Han shot immediately with the best reaction time you could have. Not sure why the down votes from the randoms.
    – SDH
    Nov 8 '20 at 4:05
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    Yes, Han was super quick on the draw--quicker than a person would really be likely to be. But remember, when you watch Star Wars, you are watching heroic fantasy. The characters are larger than life and cannot be held to the same standards to which you'd hold a character in, say, a detective movie where the limits of realism define the clues and the solution.
    – ruffdove
    Nov 11 '20 at 15:01
  • Note that Han draws and puts three shots on-target enough that Vader has to actively block them before most people in the scene have time to process the surprise, while putting himself between Leia and Vader. Bad. Ass.
    – Shadur
    Dec 18 '20 at 12:37

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