Rey's Force Vision Replaced A Knights of Ren & Lightsaber Flashback
As it stands, the lightsaber doesn't show up onscreen until about halfway through the film, as the weapon mysteriously calls to Rey and triggers the now-famous Force vision where she sees images of the past and future. Recently, it was confirmed this sequence originally included a snippet of Luke's duel with Darth Vader, with actor Robert Boulter cast as a young Skywalker. This was definitely one of the most talked-about portions of the entire film, as audiences attempted to make sense of it all. Apparently, it was a segment that went through multiple revisions, as the initial plan called for something else entirely - a flashback involving (you guessed it) the lightsaber.
During their stop on Takodana to visit Maz (who once was referred to as Rose), Rey, Finn, and Han were to hear a story that essentially told the history of the saber and how it ended up in Maz's possession. Rumors had this flashback sequence depicting a large battle between two warring clans, background about Ben Solo's training under Luke (and eventual turn to the dark side, forming the Knights of Ren), and Maz stealing the lightsaber from the Knights so she could keep it out of their hands. Afterwards, Rey runs away, terrified of the lightsaber's power and Kylo arrives on the planet to claim what he feels is his. Again, with a few tweaks, it's easy to get to what J.J. Abrams actually delivered in The Force Awakens. Following her disorientating vision, Rey claimed she never wanted to see the lightsaber again and went fleeing into the forest.
Why The Lightsaber Plot Was Changed In The Force Awakens
Making the lightsaber, one of the most recognizable aspects of the Star Wars franchise, the driving force behind the plot of a new movie certainly was a tempting proposition, but it's probably for the best that things were changed. For starters, the original setup doesn't make sense. None other than Mark Hamill confirmed the original plan was to see Luke's hand floating through space before landing on the Jakku desert. Remember, Luke lost his hand on Cloud City, a location on the planet Bespin. If anything, his detached limb would have fallen to the surface, rather than sail around the universe for three decades. Fortunately, Abrams and company realized this early on and made some necessary revisions to avoid getting the new Star Wars era off on the wrong foot.
There's a discernible logic behind the map that makes it easier to integrate into the larger plot. Luke Skywalker disappeared at some point following Return of the Jedi, and everyone wants to know where he went. Some people believed he went searching for the first Jedi Temple, so they tried to figure out how to get to the remote planet of Ahch-To. It's a very simple and streamlined story to follow, right in Star Wars' ballpark. And while there were some lingering questions about the map's origins in the immediate aftermath of The Force Awakens' release, they aren't nearly as problematic as trying to explain the infamous lightsaber beginning. Seeing that Abrams (or Rian Johnson, for that matter) bothered to explain how Maz found it, it's unlikely fans would have been satisfied with the initial plan.
When it premiered, The Force Awakens was widely seen as a triumphant return to form for the franchise, with many feeling Abrams captured the spirit of the original trilogy and blended it with the new. One has to wonder what the reaction would have been if the lightsaber plot remained in place, and odds are it might not have gone over well. It's no secret its reappearance and Maz as a story catalyst are the weakest aspects of the new trilogy, so Abrams definitely made the right call to mix things up.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019