Once again, Chewbacca has Han’s back.
Peter Mayhew, the actor under the fur suit in the original Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens, has been taking to Twitter for the past few weeks to post his script for the 1977 film that launched the franchise.
Aside from being a sweet archeological relic for fans, the early screenplay — titled The Adventures of Luke Skywalker as taken From the “Journal of the Whills” — also provides incontrovertible proof that Han shot first.
— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars)March 2, 2016
Yes, we have a literal smoking gun. In today’s tweet, we see that the script has Greedo (called “Allen,” presumably meaning “Alien”) "disappear[ing] in a blinding flash of light. Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the other patrons look on in amazement.“
A little backstory. In the film Star Wars (since renamed Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope) Han Solo, a space rogue of questionable scruples, gets cornered at gunpoint in a cantina booth by Jabba lackey Greedo. Greedo says Han owes Jabba for an aborted run, but that Jabba might consider them square in exchange for the Millennium Falcon. "Over my dead body,” says Solo. “That’s the idea,” retorts the Rodian. There’s a laser blast, and when the smoke clears, Greedo is slumped over on the table.
For years, it was clear to pretty much everyone in the galaxy that Han wasn’t going to be outrdrawn by a lizard-looking twerp, and that before Greedo could pull the trigger, Han shot first.
Except there was one guy who thought otherwise. George Lucas. The director, and notorious tinkerer with his films, has infamously tweaked the scene through the years. For the 1999 Special Edition release, Lucas made Greedo shoot first and miss, then Han fires the fatal bolt. The blowback was instantaneous, but Lucas insisted that the new version was canon and he didn’t care what the fans thought.
“Han Solo was going to marry Leia and you look back and say, "Should he be a cold-blooded killer?” Because I was thinking mythologically — should he be a cowboy, should he be John Wayne?“ Lucas said by way of explanation.
But he wasn’t done with the edits. For the 2004 DVD release and then again for the 2011 Blu-ray (the version currently available on disc and digital download), he shortened the scene, making it seem like the two fired at the same time, with Solo nonchalantly dodging Greedo’s blast.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2012, Lucas said everyone was mistaken all along and Han never shot first. "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,” Lucas explained.
“[The scene] 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.
Trouble is, nobody was buying it. Proponents of the Han-Shot-First club have put side-by-side, Zapruder-esque clips on YouTube.
There have been "despecialized” high-def versions of the fans restored from laserdisc and released online. Through it all, Lucas has stuck by his (unfired?) guns.
And that brings us today. Mayhew’s post of the original script pages proves that Lucas has been playing fast and loose with his history. Han always and forever shoots first.
Of course, this is ultimately one big geek kerfuffle that needs someone to put it in perspective. Someone like Han Solo himself.
In a Reddit AMA last year to promote The Force Awakens, Ford was asked the inevitable who-shot-first question, to which he offered a priceless reply.
“I don’t know and I don’t care.”