Movies can go through many changes before making it to the big screen, especially when they're as complex and story-driven as the Star Wars movies. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for instance, had a substantially different plot before an injury befell Harrison Ford and caused a major rewrite favoring newer characters over old.
The original trilogy was not immune from such major changes, either. While much has been said about how many changes George Lucas has made to the films after their release, there were even bigger changes made before they hit theaters.
Speaking to Inverse, Lucasfilm's first fan relations officer Craig Miller discussed some of the major changes that occurred between George Lucas's original conception of the first Star Wars movies and their final versions. Among them: Boba Fett was set to be the main villain of the third movie, which eventually became Return of the Jedi:
"Originally Boba Fett was set up in Empire as a character, and the third movie’s plot was going to be more about Boba Fett rescuing Han Solo and all of that. Boba was gonna be the main villain… That was set up, why he was taking Han Solo away, why there was a thing with him in the Christmas special."
So why did Boba get pushed to the sidelines in the final version of the movie? According to Miller, it was to move up events that were supposed to happen much later in the Star Wars timeline:
"When George decided not to make a third trilogy, he completely jettisoned that story line, which is why in the first ten minutes, Boba Fett gets bumped into and falls into the mouth of a giant monster. So he took what was planned for the third trilogy, which was the confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader, and the battle with the Emperor, and that got squished down from three movies to one movie. And that became the plot of Jedi."
The "third trilogy" comment is not a typo. While the original run of Star Wars films prior to its prequels was eventually limited to three movies, Miller says Lucas had a much grander scheme in mind involving not just three, but 12 whole movies:
"At first there was one film, and then George originally announced that it was one of 12, and there were going to be 12, and then that changed to, oh there was never 12, there was only 9, and he was going to make 9. And then during all of it, George kind of lost interest in continuing it… While we were working on The Empire Strikes Back, George decided he was going to complete the first film trilogy and that would be it."
The Star Wars universe as we know it today would certainly be vastly different if the original trilogy had been expanded to a 12-part series of films. As it stands, even with the prequels and The Force Awakens only seven movies have been released so far. The interview with Miller is interesting both as a look at what could have been and as a look at how spoilers were avoided by planting rumors about plot points that were never meant to be. But mostly, it's a giant tease for die-hard fans of cinema's most iconic intergalactic bounty hunter.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is currently available to own on home video. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will see theatrical release in the U.S. on December 16th, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15th, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.