ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

It's one of the defining arguments of Star Wars fandom - and one of the biggest bones that fans have to pick with George Lucas' remastered versions of the saga: did Han shoot first?

On the surface of it, of course, there's a pretty simple answer: He did, and then he didn't. After all, in the original trilogy (as it was seen on the big screen back in the 1970s, and on countless VHS' for years afterwards), Han indisputably does, in fact, shoot first. Or, rather, is the only one to shoot, with Greedo not even managing to get a shot away.

Similarly, come the 1997 special edition of the movie, there's little disputing that, all of a sudden, Han very much doesn't shoot first, with Greedo instead proving to be an absolutely terrible shot:

And yet, if you ask George Lucas, that second scenario, in which Greedo takes the first shot, is the only way it's ever been - and we were all just confused. As he told THR back in 2012:

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down."

Which, to put it mildly, a whole lot of fans...disagree with, seeing Lucas' comments as the backtracking of a man who's just changed his mind later in life.

With the creator of Star Wars and some of its most passionate and well-informed fans disagreeing so absolutely, though - will we ever get a solid, final answer?


A Librarian Might Just Have Ended the Debate Once and For All

That's right - once again, a quiet, studious fan with a willingness to read everything in their path seems to have solved one of the great debates of the age - or, at least, to have added even more confirmation to one side of the argument.

That librarian? Kristian Brown, of the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, Canada. Brown, y'see, has been poring over the university's extensive science fiction collection, having been given the task of digitizing the lot of it.

And then...

Kristian Stumbled Onto Something Magical

Via Elke Semerad/CBC
Via Elke Semerad/CBC

As he put it:

"I was just looking actually for something else entirely and then I just found this unique looking item."

That item? An original shooting script for Star Wars: A New Hope, "bound in blue paper, [and] emblazoned with official Lucasfilm Industries stamps."

One which, it seems, may well only be a copy - but one that Lucasfilm Publicity has already confirmed to (appear to) be of the original, genuine script.

The most intriguing part, though?

The Script Totally Confirms That Han Shot First

Y'see, along with the sort of changes we've come to expect from Lucas' early drafts - Luke's surname being Starkiller, for instance - there was also a key moment written, it seems, exactly as we initially saw it on the screen.

As Brown revealed:

"I'll tell you one thing, right now...Based on the script, I can tell you 100 per cent, Han shot first."

But Does That Really End the Debate?

Well, sadly, probably not. After all, the question of whether George Lucas' original directorial intention was, in fact, to have Han shoot second - whatever the shooting script might say - will probably remain up in the air for as long as we're all watching, and talking about, Star Wars.

What it does, however, indisputably do, is highlight something incredibly important about the Star Wars saga as a whole, especially in the year in which we'll finally see the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens. As Brown puts it:

"No matter how many new things are made, it all basically came from this first thing. And it's just good to look back at the origins of the entire thing and not forget, you know, what came first."

Too true...

What do you think, though?


Who really shot first?

via CBC


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