Of all the alterations George Lucas made to the original Star Wars trilogy for the various special editions, few are as infamous as the redone Han Solo/Greedo confrontation. Fans all over cried foul when they saw the scene from the original film had been changed, with the bounty hunter firing a shot (and missing) before Han blasts him. As it was presented in the 1977 theatrical cut, Solo mercilessly killed Greedo at point blank range, the Rodian never getting a chance to use his weapon against the Corellian smuggler. Ever since then, “Han shot first!” has been a rallying cry for all those who remember how it really happened.
While it seems like a trivial thing to get upset about, there is a reasonable explanation for why many complained. By having Greedo shoot before Han, Lucas had changed a vital part of Han Solo’s character and the arc he had throughout the first three films. When audiences first met him, he was a dangerous pilot for hire with selfish motivations; meeting Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia turned him into a kind-hearted hero. Lucas has attempted to rationalize his decision to have Han act more in self defense than as the aggressor, but several viewers aren’t buying it. And thanks to input from Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, the truth is finally coming out.
Mayhew has spent the last few days sharing pages from the original Star Wars script on social media, giving fans a nice look at what would go on to become an Oscar nominated screenplay and launch one of the biggest franchises in the world. His tweet today is sure to generate much interest, since it reveals how Han’s encounter with Greedo went down back in 1976, when Star Wars was still in principal photography:
Accompanied by Mayhew’s caption “Han Shot First. Period,” the pages confirm what moviegoers have been saying for years. As one can see by examining the pictures, there is no mention of Greedo missing Han, Han dodging a blaster bolt, or anything that remotely suggests the bounty hunter attempted to kill his target. Lucas’ initial script very clearly states that it was only Han who fired a gun, contradicting claims the filmmaker made back in 2012, when he explained that Greedo had always shot first – the poor quality of close-ups used in the sequence the cause of much confusion. But if that were the case, why wasn’t that included in the production script?
It’s revelations like this that make the special edition changes all the more frustrating for longtime fans, who feel that very few of them actually enhance the overall product and mainly detract from what made the originals so memorable. Lucas wasn’t just tidying up the special effects and cleaning up the frames, he was rewriting the series’ history, going back and tinkering with things that never needed to be fixed. Regardless of how Lucas feels about Han Solo in the present day, the character he wrote back in the 1970s was somebody who would gun an enemy down without warning. And arguably, that trait is what drew many moviegoers to Han in the first place.
That being said, Mayhew’s post doesn’t change the fact that Han shooting first is technically no longer canon. The 2011 Blu-ray editions of the films are part of the official timeline moving forward. So it will be interesting to see how directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller approach the character in the young Han Solo anthology film that’s due out in May 2018. Will their Solo be one that fires first and asks questions later, or will his anti-hero qualities be played down? Fans obviously have a preference, but Lucasfilm has the final word.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Peter Mayhew