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Ever since George Lucas went back and tinkered with his movies, whether or not Han shot first in Star Wars has become the great sci-fi debate of our time. A newly discovered draft of the script surfaced the other day that appeared to put this argument to bed, and in the wake of that news, Peter Mayhew, who plays Han’s hairy BFF Chewbacca, revealed a page from his own original script that not only backs up Han shooting first, but shows a couple of other interesting tidbits about how the scene originally played out.
On his Facebook page, Mayhew unveiled a photo of a page of his script for the express purpose of settling the "who shot first" debate. (He also adds that, even after 38 years, he still feels like he’s revealing something he’s not supposed to, which is adorable and shows the level of security drilled into the actors on these movies.) For my money, however, there are two pieces of information that are more interesting than who pulled the trigger first—at this point you either believe Han did or didn’t shoot first, and not much will sway you.
First, Greedo isn’t Greedo in this incarnation of the script. We’re used to the green alien with the reflective eyes, but in Mayhew’s script the alien was simply called "Allen." (It wouldn’t surprise me if some of you know this already, but it’s admittedly new to me.) Not saying a guy named Allen can’t be an intergalactic bounty hunter, but it’s not nearly as exotic a moniker as Greedo. You wouldn’t be surprised to meet an Allen in any bar in America, but a Greedo, that would be memorable, and is certainly more fitting for a Mos Eisley cantina in a galaxy far, far away.
Second, in this iteration, Han not only shoots first, he’s the only one that gets a shot off at all. Their conversation goes along, much like in the finished film, when out of nowhere "the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of light" that is a point-blank shot from Han’s blaster. There’s no mention of Greedo getting a round off in response. Check out the script page for yourself below.
In the movie, Greedo has his weapon drawn, pointed at Han across the table, so it’s possible a return shot is implied. It makes sense that there would be some kind of reaction to getting shot, even if it is just his muscles seizing up and pulling the trigger as a reflex. As it plays out here, however, Han just straight up executes Allen midsentence.
It’s easy to envision George Lucas adding a return shot, as it places Han in more danger. This moment, as it originally plays out with Han shooting first, tells us a lot about this character we just met and where he is at the beginning of the saga—he’s a rogue, a criminal, and not above killing to save his own ass. Still, just shooting a guy, even a bad guy, is pretty damn cold, maybe too cold, and if viewers see that there was a real chance he could have been killed—it certainly appears that Greedo was looking for any excuse to blast Han—we’re more likely to accept his action as justifiable self-defense than murder. If Greedo was about to shoot him, Han didn’t really have a choice.
This is a debate that has been raging for years, and isn’t likely to go away any time soon, no matter what evidence is presented. And like I said, I suspect most fans have already chosen a side, so in the end it doesn’t really matter, but these are interesting facts to consider.