5 Drastic Differences George Lucas Had In His 'Star Wars' Sequel Trilogy
Obviously, there’s already been a lot of online discourse debating the merits of the Star Wars sequel trilogy – it seems like half of all YouTube videos are just angry fans complaining that J.J. Abrams ruined their childhood and Rian Johnson ruined their childhood, slept with their significant other, and defecated on the hood of their Toyota Corolla that was mere weeks away from being fully paid-off. But what about Star Wars creator/Richard Karn cosplayer George Lucas? Before Lucas sold his empire to Disney, what were his plans for the sequel trilogy? Would they have been better than what we got? Worse? Well, for starters …
Lucas Kept Changing His Mind About Making Sequels
While some may claim that the entirety of the Star Wars saga simply popped into George Lucas’ brain, fully-formed, like an immaculate conception of intellectual property, clearly that wasn’t the case – as evidenced by the fact that Sir Alec Guinness never once waxes rhapsodically about the delicious nerf-burgers at Dex’s Diner. Lucas talked frequently about his ideas for the future of Star Wars, but they were rarely consistent.
As early as 1978, Lucas was discussing hypothetical sequels, claiming that there would be ten more movies after The Empire Strikes Back – so four trilogies in all. Just a year later, he clarified that there were actually “nine films in a series of three trilogies” and, as was reported at the time, the third would focus on the “gimmick of re-uniting the aged original cast.” In 1983, Lucas again stated that there would be three trilogies, plus “another couple of odd films.” Which, weirdly, is almost exactly what happened in the end.
But after Return of the Jedi came out, it became clear that Lucas cared more about producing comedies about unnecessarily horny ducks than Star Wars sequels. He even allowed Bantam Books to publish official sequel novels in the early ‘90s, with the explicit instruction that the prequel era was off-limits, telling the publisher “I’ll probably never do sequels.” And while promoting the release of The Phantom Menace, Lucas admitted in an interview that he “never had a story for the sequels” a revelation that made headlines at the time. In 2008 he bluntly told an interviewer that: “There will definitely be no Episodes VII-IX … because there isn’t any story.”
Seemingly, the only reason why Lucas began working on the sequel trilogy, in the end, was a financial one. With no more Star Wars movies in the pipeline, Lucasfilm wasn’t in great shape. Lucas either had to begin working on Episode VII or “accept that layoffs were inevitable.” And once he had decided to sell the company, work on the sequel was expressly to make Lucasfilm more “attractive” to Disney – which perhaps explains why he hired Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt to write the script. While much of that preliminary work done by Lucas was ultimately tossed in the trash compactor by Disney, we do know that …
The Main Villain Would Have Been “Godfather” Darth Maul
Lucas’ heroes likely would have been a Han Solo-like dude named Sam and a prospective female Jedi named Kira, who would eventually morph into Rey. Oh, and they were probably both Darth Vader’s grandchildren – for sure neither were ever the secret offspring of Emperor Palpatine’s botched clone.
As for the villains, they would mostly be involved in organized crime to some capacity because, according to Lucas, in his story treatment, the destruction of the Empire creates a “power vacuum” meaning that “gangsters, like the Hutts, are taking advantage of the situation, and there is chaos.” Which doesn’t mean that the ultimate baddie of Lucas’ sequels would have been a hedonistic CGI slug, but rather good ol’ Darth Maul, who we know survived The Phantom Menace because of his cameo in Solo … and also our inability to grow-up and stop watching Star Wars cartoons till 3 AM on a work night.
Maul “eventually becomes the godfather of crime” and also trains an apprentice; Darth Talon, the scantily-clad Sith who had previously been introduced in the comics, and who Lucas believed would become the “new Darth Vader.”
Lucas also wanted to “take ideas from what happened after the Iraq war” suggesting that the “stormtroopers would be like Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist fighters that joined ISIS and kept on fighting.” This would kind of break the central message of Star Wars, to be honest. Lucas himself said that the Empire was supposed to be a stand-in for America; the original trilogy was influenced by the Vietnam War, and Palpatine’s rise in the prequels was clearly inspired by the Bush presidency.
Lucas Would Have Really Doubled Down On Midi-chlorians
While you might think that a new Star Wars movie would simply take place among the stars, George Lucas had … other ideas. While sharing a conversation with James Cameron that thankfully didn’t devolve into screaming or toxic chowder consumption, Lucas talked about his fascination with bacteria, specifically how bacteria is the only alien life he believes exists. Lucas went on to describe how his sequel trilogy was going to “get into a microbiotic world” literally a “world of creatures that operate differently than we do.” Which sounds not unlike a high-concept remake of Osmosis Jones.
He went on to say that the creatures in question are actually the mysterious “Whills.” Originally the very first Star Wars movie was supposed to be called The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken From the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: Star Wars – yeah, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or fit on a Burger King collector’s cup. Lucas conceived of his movies essentially as records of past events belonging to a race of immortal beings known as the Whills.
While that idea was ultimately abandoned, apparently the Whills were going to be a big part of his sequels. As Lucas told Cameron “the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe” adding that they “feed off the Force.” Where do they live? Inside of our bodies of course, because we’re all just “cars, vehicles for the Whills to travel around in.” Gross, George. But of course, the Whills’ “conduit is the midi-chlorians” which also “communicate with the Whills who “in a general sense … are the Force.” Okay, we’re confused again.
In the same interview, Lucas also mentioned how pissed off everybody was about the introduction of midi-chlorians in the prequels – yet still proudly boasted how he was going to make three more movies that would deep-dive into the intricate biological functions of those controversial magic germs and their tiny God-like pals.
Luke Would Have Been Even More of a Dick
One of the most controversial aspects of the sequel trilogy was the depiction of Luke Skywalker, who had gone from the savior of the galaxy to a reclusive crank with only frog nuns and lactating sea creatures for company. But the image of Luke as a creepy loner began not with The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, but with Lucas. According to Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak, the idea of “a Luke Skywalker haunted by the betrayal of one of his students, in self-imposed exile & spiritually in ‘a dark place’” came about before even J.J. Abrams had been hired.
Not only was Lucas’ early take on Luke in “a dark place” and “reassessing his whole life” but around the Lucasfilm offices he was being described as a “Col. Kurtz type” who is “hiding from the world in a cave.”
Sure, Luke has his issues in The Last Jedi, but comparing him to the brutal warlord played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now seemingly indicates that they could have gone to an even bleaker place with the character. Imagine Rey journeying to Ach-To, finding Luke, and having this conversation:
As referenced by Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, Lucas’ treatment dictated that Luke should similarly die at the end of Episode VIII – but since no details were provided, for all we know, Lucas would have had him fall down an elevator shaft or choke on a piece of caramel corn.
Leia Should Have Been The Fabled “Chosen One”
While Episode VII focused on Han, and VIII on Luke, reportedly Episode IX was going to be “Leia’s movie.” But after Carrie Fisher passed away, plans shifted, leaving us with a brief, posthumous performance pieced together from unused footage from The Force Awakens using whatever the visual effects equivalent of scotch tape and chewing gum is …
It’s even more of a bummer considering what Lucas originally had planned for her character, which may or may not have come to fruition in the finished film. Remember the whole business about the “Chosen One,” the Jedi’s prophesied savior who will one day bring “balance” to the Force? It was a major plot point in The Phantom Menace; Qui-Gon Jinn believes that Anakin is the Chosen One, only to be rejected by the Jedi Council, with all the sensitivity of an X Factor panel.
According to George, his plan for Leia would have found her struggling to rebuild the Republic which is now crawling with gangsters. Only by the end of the trilogy would Luke have “rebuilt much of the Jedi” while his sister created a “New Republic” and becomes (hopefully through an election, not more space-facism) the Supreme Chancellor who is “in charge of everything.” And, ultimately “she ended up being the Chosen One” – hopefully, the final shot of the trilogy was Force ghost Qui-Gon quietly slinking away in embarrassment.
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Top Image: Lucasfilm