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I check the first copy I could find online and the first blast I saw turned the screen white. Given that the Tantive IV was moving away from the camera, the shot must have originated with it since shots from the Devastator would not likely have been able to hit the camera.

Bonus questions:

  1. Is there a canonical answer (legends/new canon) about which ship fired first (rather than the first shot we see)?
  2. Are the differences amongst the various versions (who shot first & who shot first on screen)?

I want to make a shirt that says "X shot first" where X is either the Tantive IV or the Devastator and I want to be able to defend whatever position I wind up taking.

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    The new Rogue One film indicates that the Tantive IV was shot immediately after exiting the hold of the Profundity. The Devastator definitely shot first. – Valorum Jan 12 '17 at 21:16
  • 1
    @Valorum Good point from a new canon off screen perspective. – Chas. Owens Jan 12 '17 at 21:18
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    Not another who short first argument... Han shot. There was no first. – Tim Jan 12 '17 at 21:23
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A simple frame-by-frame analysis shows that the Tantive IV fired first in the original cut of Star Wars: A New Hope.

enter image description here

That being said, what you've described as a lens flash is caused by the impact of the Devastator's cannons on the Tantive IV's rear shields.

enter image description here


For completeness, I should mention that the Tantive IV had already been fired upon by the Devastator in the prequel film Rogue One.

The Tantive IV wasn’t ready to fly, but it flew. It emerged from the burning wreck of the cruiser and sped away from Scarif. For a blessed few seconds it moved swiftly, confidently through space. Then the ship rocked again and echoed with thunder and sparks. From his station on the bridge, Raymus could smell circuits melting.

“Star Destroyer closing!” called the officer at the tactical console. Raymus didn’t recognize the face—one of Raddus’s men.

Rogue One: Official Novelisation

  • So, this puts it as the Tantive IV shot first in A New Hope and the Devastator shot first in new canon (off screen). – Chas. Owens Jan 12 '17 at 21:30
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    Acutally it doesn't prove anything. The battle was going on before the Tantive IV appeared on screen in New Hope. So you can only say which ship was first to fire on screen. You can't say which started the battle. – Tim Jan 12 '17 at 21:32
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    @Tim - Well indeed. As I've pointed out, the battle started in the Scarif system, then continued in orbit of Tatooine. – Valorum Jan 12 '17 at 21:39

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