Update: This post incorrectly states that the below plot outline was what George Lucas envisioned for Star Wars: Episode VII. Lucas was only shown the concept art of the original Jedi temple; he had no input on story details regarding J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens. The original article follows:
George Lucas' original vision for Star Wars: Episode VII resembles story elements used in Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi. In 2012, Lucas sold Lucasfilm and all its assets to The Walt Disney Company and handed over his story treatments for the Star Wars sequel trilogy. But when J.J. Abrams boarded Episode VII in 2013, he, co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, and the Star Wars Story Group abandoned Lucas' ideas in favor of creating their own. And so, The Force Awakens was born.
In The Force Awakens, a girl named Rey comes across a Resistance droid and a First Order defector. They team-up and work with Han Solo and Chewbacca to get the map to the first Jedi temple to the Resistance. Along the way, Rey discovers she's Force-sensitive and, eventually, pursues Luke Skywalker to be trained. In The Last Jedi, Rey begins her training under Luke Skywalker's tutelage, though the Jedi Master doesn't believe the Jedi should exist anymore. Of course, he ultimately faces his former pupil, Ben Solo a.k.a. Kylo Ren, and distracts the Supreme Leader long enough to allow the Resistance to flee. While The Last Jedi concludes Luke's story, for the most part, that was actually supposed to be the basic elements of Lucas' Episode VII.
In the Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi book, it's revealed that the first meeting to discuss The Force Awakens' plotline took place in January 2013 at Skywalker Ranch, where George Lucas was shown concept art for an older Luke Skywalker, a young Jedi padawan named Kira (later renamed Rey), and a bell-shaped design for the first Jedi temple (later redesigned and relocated to the planet Ahch-To). While most of these concepts were tossed out, Lucas approved of many of them, and some are now on display in the new book. Here's the concept art for the first Jedi temple (designed by VFX art director James Clyne):
The book also reveals Lucas' initial plans for Episode VII and possibly the rest of his Star Wars sequel trilogy. As it turns out, Luke exiled himself to a remote location where the first Jedi temple existed decades after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Over the course of the film, Luke would slowly regain his spirit and, eventually, start to train the new Jedi, named Kira. But, that story didn't fit within Abrams and Lucasfilm's overall plan for their Star Wars sequel trilogy. So, the story treatment was deferred for The Last Jedi, at least parts of it were.
If Luke trained Rey in The Force Awakens instead of The Last Jedi, the Star Wars sequel trilogy would be heading in a different direction. But with Luke being the MacGuffin in Episode VII allowed for all the original and sequel trilogy characters to come together in their search of one man. It all worked out in the end, but we'll just have to wait and see how it all ends in Abrams' Star Wars: Episode IX.
Source: Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (via /Film)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019