The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Unearthed ‘Star Wars’ script said to prove Han Solo shot Greedo first

A photo of the script shared by CBC reporter Matthew Bingley.

There are those who say Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone. There are those who say 9/11 was an inside job.

And there are those who say that, in the 1977 film “Star Wars,” Han Solo shot Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina on Tatooine — not the other way round.

Now, a Canadian librarian who’s located a copy of an early “Star Wars” script claims to have confirmed what even George Lucas has denied: Han was the aggressor in a short battle that ended in the death of a bumpy green alien.

“I’ll tell you one thing, right now,” Kristian Brown told CBC News. “Based on the script, I can tell you 100 per cent, Han shot first.”

While digitizing an extensive sci-fi collection at the University of New Brunswick’s library in Saint John, Brown came across the script, which he said was likely acquired in the 1990s and forgotten. There were other oddities about the copy, which was dated from 1976: Luke Skywalker was sometimes referred to as “Luke Starkiller”; the film wasn’t “Episode IV,” but “Saga I”; as per GQ, Princess Leia was Princess Zara.

But the big news was about the showdown between Solo and Greedo.

“Suddenly the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of light,” the relevant page of the script, tweeted by CBC reporter Matthew Bingley, reads. “Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the other patrons look on in bemused amazement. Han: ‘… but it will take a lot more than the likes of you to finish me off.'”

Lucasfilm confirmed that the script appeared to be a copy made by a fan — leading Tech Times to wonder whether “this is really what Lucas initially envisioned for the character, or if it was just a fan wanting to portray Han as a ‘cold-blooded killer.'” But Bingley said the studio confirmed the script’s contents as well.

“Just got an email back from Lucasfilm,” Bingley tweeted. “They say while the script is legit content, it’s likely a copy sold at a convention years ago.”

The Solo/Greedo debate may seem nothing more than a geeky sideshow for rabid fans of “Star Wars.” Confronted by a Toronto Star reporter over the controversy in 2006, Han Solo himself — Harrison Ford — said the average person couldn’t give a power converter whether Solo shot Greedo or Greedo shot Solo.

“You know, you are probably the only guy who cares about this,” he told an interrogator. He reiterated that position in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview last year: “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Ford, however, may have discounted the importance of the character that made him famous. Whether Solo shot Greedo or Greedo shot Solo gets at the role of the anti-hero in American culture as much as George Milton in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” or Tony Soprano in “The Sopranos.” If Han didn’t shoot first, he’s just another cardboard cutout good guy, rushing to the rescue of the Rebellion. But if he’s a killer — a bloodthirsty pirate capable of taking the life of another without provocation — he’s less like Tom Mix and more like Sam Spade.

That’s good. Shooting Greedo first makes Han Solo more like an actual person. “Star Wars” fans know this. That’s why they’ve debated the scene for decades. That’s why the scene earned its own Wikipedia page — “Han shot first.”

And that’s why George Lucas tried to change the scene when “Star Wars” was re-released in 1977. In that version, Lucas tried to make it clear that Greedo shot first — and fans thought it was a disaster.

First, Lucas said it wasn’t significant that he was tinkering with a hugely successful movie.

“Well, it’s not a religious event,” Lucas told the Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie.”

But then he said that, more or less, he wanted Han Solo to be two-dimensional after all.

“What I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “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.” (Lucas’s changes can be seen on YouTube.)

Fan reaction was biblical.

“George Lucas has blasphemied and betrayed the covenant,” one wrote on a Web site dedicated to criticizing the re-cut. “He has his thirty peices [sic] of silver.”

Lucas, of course, has been sidelined from future “Star Wars” films in favor of newcomer J.J. Abrams. What does Abrams think of “Han shot first”? In a 2013 interview, the filmmaker sort of dodged the question.

“I would argue there was only one shot,” he said.