Han shot first

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The 1997 altered version of Star Wars depicts Greedo firing a shot at Han Solo shortly before Han responds in kind. In the original 1977 version, Han is the only one to shoot.

"Han shot first" is a phrase used by Star Wars fans to refer to a controversial change made to a scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in which Han Solo is confronted by the bounty hunter Greedo at the Mos Eisley Cantina. The initial change was made to the 1997 Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition re-release.


Greedo is an associate of Jabba the Hutt, a Tatooine-based crime lord for whom Han also used to work. At the time of the events in A New Hope, Han has been on the run from his former boss, who wants to be repaid by Han for his having to dump a load of smuggled goods he was carrying in order to avoid capture by an Imperial search party and has issued a large bounty on Solo's head. Greedo comes across Han just as he is leaving the Mos Eisley cantina bar to take Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to Alderaan aboard the Millennium Falcon, pulling his blaster on him. Since Obi-Wan has promised to pay Han "seventeen thousand" to take them to Alderaan, Han tells Greedo that he has accumulated enough money to pay back Jabba. Greedo demands the money and grows angrier when Han tells him he does not have it in his possession. As Han begins to ready his own blaster, Greedo tells him that Jabba has run out of patience with Solo and that he had been "waiting for a long time" to take out his former associate. Han says to Greedo, "yes, I'll bet you have." A shot is then fired and Greedo slumps over the table dead.

In the original theatrical version of the film, immediately after Han says "I'll bet you have" to Greedo, a cloud of smoke blurs the shot and the next shot shows Greedo's corpse slumped over the table. When the film was released in its first modified form in 1997, an additional second of footage was added showing that Greedo shot at Han from point blank range and missed, with the cloud of smoke coming from Han's blaster after he returned fire.[1][2] Thus, the phrase "Han shot first" is a retort to director George Lucas' explicit cinematic assertion that "Greedo shot first."

Controversies, further changes and Lucas' response[edit]

The alteration of the scene was disagreeable to a number of longtime fans of the series, provoking some to create an online petition demanding that the changes be retracted.[3] The primary objection to the revision is that it alters Han's initially morally ambiguous character, making his later transition from anti-hero to hero less meaningful.[4] Since the 1997 Special Editions, there have been two DVD releases. In the 2004 DVD release, the disputed scene was altered again. In this version, Greedo still shoots before Han does and still misses at close range, but the timing is altered so the shots are fired at nearly the same time and to depict Han "dodging" the shot (digital manipulation is used to "lean" the character to one side).

The 2006 DVD had two versions—the 2004 changes and the original theatrical version. The theatrical version features no changes, including Han shooting first. When announcing the dual-version DVDs, Lucasfilm noted that the scene was included by saying: "...and yes, [viewers] see Han Solo shoot first."[5]

For the 2011 Blu-ray release, the shot of Han and Greedo firing at each other from the 2004 DVD has been tightened up by several frames.[6]

In a 2012 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lucas altered his previous statements by announcing that Greedo had always shot first, stating that a combination of bad close-up shots and the audiences' inaccurate perception of the Han Solo character was what actually caused all the confusion. Lucas stated

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, 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. 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." [7]

Despite this claim from Lucas, drafts of the original shooting script on the internet make no mention of Greedo shooting at all, only Han.[8]

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the original series, was asked in a Reddit AMA, "Mr Mayhew. Did Han really shoot first ? You were there. You saw it first hand. The truth needs to come out !" His response was "uughghhhgh uughghhhgh huuguughghg."[9]

See also[edit]