When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, any hopes of seeing how he might have finished the saga went out of the airlock. We’ve since heard snippets of what he apparently would have done, but nothing substantial.
However, a new book from deluxe publishers Taschen has lifted more of the lid on what George would have done with Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. As the title suggests, The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005, a companion to the 1977-1983 edition, covers the making of Lucas’ infamous prequel trilogy. At around 600 pages, the book explores every major detail of the three films designed to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker and his eventual transformation to Darth Vader Arriving Dec. 13 in the states, but out now in the UK, 1999-2005 also finds room to discuss the Special Editions, the huge technological leaps Lucas made to get the films made digitally, and his eventual plans for the sequel trilogy, all straight from the tauntaun’s mouth.
Read on to find out which prequel villain would have returned for the third trilogy, which Robert De Niro role inspired a potential look for one of the main characters, and what the final word is on one of the saga’s biggest controversies.
Darth Maul was supposed to return for the sequel trilogy
We already know from various parts of that galaxy far, far away that being cut in half wasn’t enough to stop Darth Maul, but apparently the Sith fighter would have been the main heavy of Lucas’ sequel trilogy with the aid of mechanical legs. Joining him, in theory, was Sith Lord Darth Talon, from the Dark Horse comic book Star Wars: Legacy. Lucas says “Maul eventually becomes the godfather of crime in the universe because, as the Empire falls, he takes over,” and that Talon was the Vader of the trilogy. Now we know where Solo got the idea.
The sequels were Leia’s moment
Lucas says that his sequel trilogy parallels real-life events, and was to feature the late Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia Organa as the lead, together with Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker and a new generation of Jedi. Lucas describes reconstruction as “harder than starting a rebellion or fighting a war,” going on to reference the Iraq War and the stormtroopers who would have essentially formed ISIS. The resulting power vacuum would have been easy for Maul to step into, but Leia would have eventually rebuilt the Republic and become the Supreme Chancellor. According to the director, “she ended up being the chosen one.”
Who are the Whills?
Hardcore fans will know that Lucas originally meant for the saga to be a tale from a fictional bible known as the “Journal of the Whills,” but we never got an explanation of the Whills in the film. Lucas says he originally would have explained more about them in the prequels, but decided not to after the poor reception over the midi-chlorians lore. Simply put, Whills are “a microscopic single-celled life-form” that have a symbiotic relationship with the midi-chlorians and who feed on the Force. They gave the command to the midi-chlorians to make Anakin, with Lucas stating he was touched by God, who in this case “happened to be one-celled animals”.
The truth about Anakin’s father
In the original script for Revenge of the Sith, someone else was in charge of creating the senior Skywalker. Darth Sidious himself was originally to be the one behind the immaculate conception, telling Anakin “I have waited all these years for you to fulfill your destiny” and that he “used the power of the Force to will the midi-chlorians to start the cell division” that created him. Even though most people had already assumed this to be the case, it’s not hugely surprising it didn’t make it in.
“You’re going to destroy the franchise”
When Lucas initially told 20th Century Fox that he was making the story of how Anakin became Darth Vader, they were as excited as anybody else. Then he told them that, in the first film, Anakin would be 10 years old. “You’re going to destroy the franchise; you’re going to destroy everything!” Lucas explains that he told people at Lucasfilm he was “making a movie that nobody wants to see”, but would rather do that than telling the same story over and over. And to be fair to George, it still made a billion dollars.
Greedo shot first, of course
Since 1997 people have railed against the change in A New Hope where hapless bounty hunter Greedo shoots Han Solo at point-blank range and misses. But Lucas sticks to his blaster and says in the book that this was always the case. “I never designed Han to be a ruthless killer,” he says, “all the good guys shoot in self-defense. When I edited the scene in 1977 you couldn’t tell who does what.” He goes on to say that people who were upset wanted Han to be a murderer and that the point was to establish moral parameters so kids don’t copy people who conduct themselves in unbecoming ways.
Darth Vader: Taxi Driver
Taschen’s book contains enough concept art to fill an AT-AT, with one of the most intriguing images being an idea for how Anakin would have looked in Revenge of the Sith. Concept illustrator Ian McCaig drew an image of Hayden Christensen in a look that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mad Max movie, with his sleeveless Jedi tunic ripped open to the chest. Anakin’s hair is even more extreme, being shaved aside from a thin mohawk à la Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, with it finishing in a braided ponytail.
A ‘stupid’ Han Solo idea
Han Solo finally got his prequel story with 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, but the character was originally going to be introduced in Revenge of the Sith, where he would be living on Kashyyyk with the Wookiees. Lucas originally had the idea for him to be orphaned on the planet during the writing of The Empire Strikes Back, but in the Episode III script the youngster ended up helping Yoda, which Lucas eventually rejected. “This is stupid” he said, admitting he was being too clever for his own good.
Darth Vader uses lifts
While Hayden Christensen is tall, he isn’t Darth Vader tall, so when the time came for him to wear the iconic outfit of the Dark Lord, he needed a little help in the form of shoe lifts. However, the actor felt like he required some practice as he felt rigid and that he “didn’t feel like I was walking like the Darth Vader we knew from the original trilogy”. But that was just what Lucas wanted, with Anakin’s Frankenstein’s monster-style lumbering perfectly communicating the awkwardness of being essentially turned into a robot with a brand new set of arms and legs.
Lucas acknowledges that people were upset that the prequels opened with the trade blockade and dispute, but nevertheless says “that’s how wars start.” He goes on to say that The Phantom Menace starts with “corrupt corporations” doing bad things in secret and that all corporations care about is making money, while everyone else is trying to do the right thing but are completely overwhelmed. The two main themes are about becoming a bad person and democracy being given away; “there’s no coup, there’s no rebellion, there’s no nothing. They vote it in, which is what happens in real life.”
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