We’ve been waiting since 2015’s The Force Awakens to see what Luke Skywalker has been up to for the past 30 years. Now that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is upon us, audiences are split on how interesting the decades have been for the galaxy-famous Jedi master.
Vocal critics had an idea of what they wanted from another Luke Skywalker adventure, and they don’t think the latest installment in the space opera lived up to it. But other possibilities existed, and we have a wealth of Last Jedi concept art to show us what might have been.
The new book, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, contains over 250 pages of sketches, concepts, and ideas both used and abandoned that show off all the work that went into bringing the latest film to life.
We loved the movie, but reading through the book, we found several ideas that we wish hadn’t fallen by the wayside. Some are actually more interesting than what ended up on screen.
We’ve collected some of our favorites, most of which would have made Episode VIII a far different movie and we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you would have enjoyed that hypothetical version more or less than what we’ve seen.
Here are the 15 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Concept Art Designs Better Than What We Got.
15. Star Wars: The Last Airbender
This first bit of Last Jedi concept art is technically an idea from The Force Awakens, since it was an early design for the older Luke Skywalker’s appearance in the new trilogy. However, the new episode is where we’d be seeing the bulk of this version of the hero, so we’re including it here.
It’s not necessarily that we prefer the look of the bald, forehead-tattooed Luke over the more traditional style we got, and hey, the beard is basically the same. However, we appreciate the audacity of giving him such a unique and unexpected look.
Actor Mark Hamill has been pulling for something vastly different since Return of the Jedi. He imagined that film featuring a wizened Luke with scars, an eyepatch, and an earring. He ended up just looking mostly the same but wearing black, though.
14. Luke’s personal rock bubble
Several of the cool ideas we didn’t get expanded on the ancient Jedi Temple on Ahch-To. This one was especially cool and served to underscore how much more powerful Luke had become since he helped defeat the Empire.
Reportedly, the floating rock dome in this picture meant to serve as a meditation space for the Jedi. The user would lift the rock with the Force (contrary to Luke’s assertion in The Last Jedi, Force users do pick up a lot of stones) and then lower it behind them to create a presumably silent and enclosed space to be alone with their thoughts.
This idea would provide a Light Side counterpart to the scarier chamber Darth Vader uses in the original trilogy. It would have drawn an interesting parallel between Luke and his father and also would have looked really cool.
13. We would still trash a casino with these
Finn and Rose take a break from The Last Jedi’s central, prolonged chase sequence to go on a mission to Canto Bight, a decadent vacation destination for war profiteers and other overly comfortable beings from across the galaxy.
Obviously all those champagne glasses and fancy cars are too tempting not to end the sequence with an elaborate, destructive chase, which the heroes pull off after freeing the gentle falthiers that the resort uses for races.
The ones we got looked kind of like huge, deer, but that wasn’t the final version. The design team went through several different iterations, all with great nicknames that describe their appearances. These include “Horse Hound,” “Snow Owl,” and “Koala Lion.”
12. Rigorous Jedi Training
This concept comes from well before the plans for the current trilogy came around. George Lucas’ original version still featured a young woman learning the ways of the Force from Luke Skywalker. However, her name was Kira instead of Rey, and her training regimen was a bit more involved.
Seriously, look at all those training droids. That’s way beyond the single one that Luke faced off with in A New Hope, so we assume she built to this point? If that’s the case, why didn’t Kira get a lightsaber for this? It’s probably an agility test meant to teach dodging instead of reflecting, but it still seems pretty stacked.
Regardless, the new trilogy has definitely needed some kind of formal lightsaber training. We know Rey can handle herself in a staff fight, but that doesn’t quite translate to a weapon that can cut in any direction.
11. It’s a (lint) trap!
An early version of the sequence in which Finn, Rose, and BB-8 infiltrate Supreme Leader Snoke’s flagship had them coming in a vent and making their way through a dark, cavernous area full of piles of mysterious fluff.
They continue on through the tunnel until they reach a hatch. It opens into the First Order laundry facility, revealing that what they’d just been walking through was an enormous tumble dryer, and the fluff was lint. The gag we did get, with the ironing machine made to look like an awesome spaceship coming in for a landing, was solid.
10. Now do the Kessel Run
The giant dryer wasn’t the only visual gag in the extended laundry sequence. Another one played homage to a classic scene from the original trilogy.
We all remember the part in A New Hope when Han Solo, running down a Death Star hallway fleeing Stormtroopers, comes around a corner to almost run into a room full of even more bad guys. The sequence this Last Jedi concept art describes would have been a riff on that.
It had Finn and Rose similarly encountering an impossible number of “foes” in the laundry. However, the joke takes a turn when we find out that they’re just empty armor hanging on hooks like dry cleaning.
9. Laugh and he will kill you
Luke wasn’t the only Force user who had a dalliance with a bald look in The Last Jedi. The filmmakers decided pretty early on that Kylo Ren was going to lose the Darth Vader cosplay helmet for this one, but they weren’t sure if they wanted to change up his appearance underneath.
This bald version is interesting, and it actually makes more sense for a character who typically spends most of his time with his head stuck in an enclosed space. So maybe he should have been bald for The Force Awakens and grown out his glorious locks once he freed them.
Either way, shaving Kylo’s head would have been a cool look and further suggested his character’s further push away from his mother (who’s famous for her hair) and closer to the similarly cue-balled Snoke.
8. Rose and Paige’s elaborate flair
The twin necklaces that Rose and her sister Paige kept in The Last Jedi weren’t always twins. Most of the earlier designs had the two different-looking individual pieces slotting together to form a single, super-necklace.
We’re pretty sure that was also the case with the final, yin and yang design, but some of the abandoned concepts were pretty… well, pretty.
We’re particularly fond of the green one above, which has the benefit of making the individual pieces not look like they necessarily fit together. However, that’s also a cost because the final, elegant solution lets viewers immediately make that connection. Or they can just notice that they’re identical and make it that way.
7. Rose and Finn blend in
One of our minor issues with the Canto Bight sequence was how much Finn and Rose stood out in their Resistance clothes in the middle of a black-tie affair. Everyone in the casino is dressed entirely in black and white, which helps the Master Codebreaker’s red plon bloom stand out. It does the same for our heroes on their secret mission, though.
However, a deleted sequence addressed that by having Finn and Rose break into a clothing boutique to steal suitable attire. This would have further developed the romantic plot between the two and provided yet another sight gag.
Originally, they would enter the casino to discover that despite being dressed appropriately, Finn was drawing a lot of attention. Eventually, he’d find out that everyone was staring because he’d put his tuxedo on backwards.
6. Meet the Master Codebreaker
Originally, the dolled-up Finn and Rose would actually make contact with the Master Codebreaker partly thanks to their taking the steps to blend in. They didn’t find him at the card table but in a more tuneful setting.
Star Wars’ history with in-scene music in scenes is spotty. Everyone loves Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes’ cantina music in A New Hope.
Fewer people liked Max Rebo Band’s jizz-wailing (that is not a typo– “jizz” is a kind of music in this universe) in Return of the Jedi, and even fewer than that enjoyed Sy Snoodles’ full-on CGI song Lucas added to the Special Edition of that film.
5. The quick, brown salt fox
The crystalline foxes on the mineral planet Crait in The Last Jedi are vulptices (singular: vulptex). They’re a late highlight in the film, adding one last cute animal to enjoy after the porgs and falthiers.
Like every other aspect of production, the vulpteces went through a lot of versions, but the filmmakers knew from the start that they were going to be rocky and foxy.
However, they weren’t entirely sure what the ratio of mineral to fox was going to be or what color they were going to be. The earliest sketches didn’t even have the glassy look of the finals. They looked like they were covered with large gravel.
That didn’t look as good as what we got, but the orange version above looks great. The final version makes more sense environmentally (they’d blend in better with the salt), but we still like the variation.
4. The skim speeders could have been even scarier
The rundown skim speeders the Resistance uses to try to fight off the First Order on Crait are run down, falling apart, and extremely dangerous to fly. But the design team had some other ideas, both better and worse than what they ended up with.
We would have felt more comfortable flying the earlier design on the left, if anyone asked. At least it had two “skis” and an enclosed cockpit.
However, that tiny one on the right would have been an even more harrowing option than the final designs. Any shot that would destroy that thing would basically hit the pilot, which makes it a much scarier prospect to take one out against those giant gorilla walkers.
They also point back to the STAP craft in The Phantom Menace, but maybe we didn’t need that reminder.
3. A council of one
Another abandoned Ahch-To concept featured a temple interior that would also provide a link back to the prequel trilogy, but we think it would have been an interesting one.
The above concept shows one of those big, round rooms that the Jedi of the Old Republic were so fond of sitting around and talking in.
In fact, other than the huge, partial dome in the middle, it looks a whole lot like the Jedi Council chamber on Coruscant. It’s a pretty far cry from the more primitive and rustic look that The Last Jedi ends up going with, but it would have introduced an interesting visual.
Knowing that the Jedi had been hanging out in grand rooms like this from the beginning of their order would have reinforced Luke’s point about their downfall coming from complacency and hubris. It’s a subtle nod, but it would have worked.
2. Sith mind tricks
One of the more compelling bits of Last Jedi concept art shows what appears to be a Sith Force ghost. The idea here is that while the Jedi version of this kind of spirit is blue, their evil counterparts would match the colors of their own lightsabers.
This is a good idea, but it would introduce a major problem to the series’ mythology. One of the main differences between the Jedi and the Sith is that the former seeks to understand and entwine themselves with the Force, while the latter aim to use it to amass power and prolong their own (mortal) lives.
The revelation that Sith were capable of Force-ghosting would suggest that they had figured out how to work with the cosmic glue instead of just trying to wrangle it into their control for selfish means. But it’s a really cool image, nonetheless.
1. We were afraid this would happen
One of the single scariest moments in The Last Jedi is when a group of porgs gather around Luke’s old lightsaber after he casually tosses it away. We love porgs, and we were afraid that one of them was going to turn the thing on, and tragedy would follow.
According to this sketch, that thought occurred to the film’s designers, too. We doubt it would have been this graphic in the final movie if they’d followed through with it.
However, then again, this was a movie that has the villain cut in half before his torso falls to the floor. And Chewbacca’s dinner choice shows that not even adorable space puffins are immune to the cruelty of death.
It’s not that we want bad things to happen to porgs. We just think skewering one on a lightsaber would have been a gutsy move.
What do you think? Would you have prefered to see these scenes on screen? Sound off in the comments!
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