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Perhaps the most contentious point in all of Star Wars lore is Han Solo shooting first. In one quick instant, when he preemptively kills the bounty hunter Greedo, you learn a great deal about this character you just met. George Lucas famously changed that in the 1997 special editions, and fandom has been yelling about it ever since. Most Star Wars fans already believe Han shot first, but a newly unearthed draft of the A New Hope script supports that claim, and you can never have too much proof.
According to the CBC, while he was digitizing the University of New Brunswick’s collection of zines, pulp magazines, and novels, librarian Kristian Brown unearthed what is believed to be an original shooting script for A New Hope. A big sci-fi fan, Brown was excited about his discovery for a number of reasons, but he very excitedly pointed out:
I'll tell you one thing, right now. Based on the script, I can tell you 100 per cent, Han shot first.
Lucas has tried to explain away the change, saying that he always intended that Greedo shot first, that the event was misinterpreted, and the changes he made in the late ‘90s were just to clarify that. You’re probably well aware that this has been debated and loudly argued back and forth ever since. This newly discovered draft is dated March 15, 1976, obviously well before the film’s release date, and makes it abundantly clear that the intention was for Han pulled the trigger first.
This moment, while seemingly small, tells us a lot about who Han is at the beginning of the Star Wars saga. He’s not a hero, hell, he’s not even a particularly nice guy, and is very much they type of dude who would gun someone else down in cold blood to save his own ass. And from this new evidence, that appears to have been Lucas’ original intention. It is possible he changed that before filming, but between this and the original version, it certainly seems otherwise.
When he first came across the script, Brown wasn’t exactly sure what it was. It was just an interesting looking piece of the library’s collection, but it didn’t take him long to realize what he had on his hands. Printed on blue paper and emblazoned with Lucasfilm stamps, this draft also features some well-known elements that were ultimately changed before the movie hit theaters. For instance, on these pages, Luke Skywalker is still known as Luke Starkiller; instead of Episode IV, it was still known as Saga I; and it apparently also includes some scenes that were cut. What those last ones are isn’t clarified in the article, but they could be talking about scenes like those between Luke and Biggs that were ultimately edited out of the film, or perhaps others that were never filmed. We’ll have to wait and see if they publish this, then we can see the differences for ourselves.
In the meantime, Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18.