Two wisecracking, smuggling space pirates go head to head in this installment of Fandom Deathmatch.
Contestant #1: Han Solo (Star Wars)
Attributes: Multi-lingual, expert mechanic, knowledge of various navigator systems, expert pilot
Contestant #2: Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly)
Attributes: Experience in warfare, able to take a beating (in part due to extreme amounts of scar tissue), companionship to crew, determination, strategist.
It’s easy to point out the similarities between these two gents. Both live their lives a certain way because they have to, not because they want to. Both exist in a universe controlled by a dictatorship-like government, and prefer to exist outside its bounds. They rely on their crews (or partner-in-crime) for support, and give it back unconditionally. Both can be described as scoundrels. Oh, and they have great wits to go with their freelance attitudes, too.
These two also have an affinity for spaceships that few would ever want. Han has his love of the Millennium Falcon (won from his friend Lando), while Mal saw Serenity in a junkyard, and it was love at first sight. While Malcolm does love Serenity, his connection to the ship is slightly below that of the pilot, Wash. If Serenity is damaged, she’s merely fixed and goes on. Mal loves his ‘boat,’ but also knows it’s just a ship as well. Han is his own man, and not only pilots the Millennium Falcon, but builds upon her as well. She is his baby, and always will be. One can only wonder, too, how angry Han got when Lando brought her back with the satellite dish missing after the second Death Star attack.
While Han has Chewy, who would intimidate most men, at his side, Malcolm surrounds himself with eclectic crew, ranging from a prior comrade in arms to a guy who thinks trading his gun for a woman is the right thing to do. Props goes to Han, however, who is able to run a ship with only one other individual, who doesn’t even speak the same language. It’s interesting to point out how Chewy and Han can carry on conversations, yet never once actually SPEAK each other’s language. Kudos to Han for being multi-lingual in extra-species dialect.
On the subject of crew, one can also point out that while Chewy is only ever a positive influence on Han (never causing problems, never bringing his own drama to the table… at least we assume), while Mal’s crew is nothing BUT drama. Whether smuggling in their frozen sisters, having bad choices in the past haunt them, turning each other in for money, or typical marriage drama, it’s a wonder the ship is run so well at all. Mal’s attitude towards his crew (more like a father/brother), is the only way this rag-tag group is able to stick together. And even then, members do eventually choose to leave.
When it comes to survival, the ball falls into Mal’s court. While Han survives a painful torture session on Cloud City, it’s nothing compared to the amount of terrors Malcolm faces, and with a smile. From having his ear cut off to electrical shock to a frightening apparatus designed to create only pain, you have to wonder how Mal survives. Even his pilot Wash is scared by how much Malcolm is able to take. While Han screams in pain during torture, Mal merely laughs — likely because he’s had worse.
In the grand scheme, it’s also fair to point out that Han exists in a much more turbulent world than Malcolm. Sure, Mal is a rebel who was branded by the brown coat he wore, and now works on the outer rim to avoid running into the Alliance. Though the Alliance isn’t 100% evil, they’re not saints either. This isn’t the case for Han, who has to fight off the fascist ways of the Galactic Empire, multiple (and often talented) bounty hunters, and the gambling desires of the Hutts. If you’re near civilization, you’re an automatic target, if you aren’t… you’re an even bigger target.
While these men have similar existences, their futures are completely opposite. Han eventually becomes a rebel hero, marries Leia, has three children, and has a future within the New Republic. His days as a smuggler, merely surviving, are effectively over. Mal, on the other hand, remains true to who he is. After exposing dark secrets of the Alliance, he gets back into Serenity and flies off — chances are, continuing what he does best… or adequate.. and that is being free to live his life as he chooses.
And in this epic battle of two guys who are just trying to get by in an imperfect universe, the winner is…
Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly
And the reason is quite simple. Malcolm will never be questioned if he shot first or not.