Star Wars is undoubtedly one of the most successful and popular franchises in the history of Hollywood. However, it didn’t acquire that success overnight.
Many fans may think of Star Wars as an unchangeable doctrine, but in reality, the movies were put through the ringer before it became the classic tale we all know and love. Watch any behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew and it may surprise you to find out that very few of the details were ironed out, even as production of the first movie began!
No one can deny that George Lucas is a creative genius for the way he developed the Star Wars universe, but the credit doesn’t lie all with him. If it wasn’t for the collective efforts of his production crew, led by names such as Gary Kurtz, Rick McCallum, and Lawrence Kasdan, the entire saga could have been entirely different altogether.
Changes were made to the story and characters throughout every stage of development, sometimes even after the release of the movies! Some of these changes included the appearance and history of the characters, endings to the films, and even the fates of the main characters. While all the original ideas make for an interesting read, it’s safe to say that most fans wouldn’t want Star Wars to be any different – which may be a big reason for the success of the franchise!
Here are the 15 Ways Star Wars Was Almost Completely Different.
15. Luke was almost female
Rey from The Force Awakens was not the first time a female protagonist written for Star Wars.
A New Hope had over five drafts before production started, all with their own spin on what would end up being the fourth episode in the saga. In the third draft, the idea of the male protagonist (Luke) was changed to a heroine with the name Starkiller.
This gender swap had a ripple effect on the story – such as having the female lead falling in love with Han Solo. At the time the idea of a female lead was almost revolutionary in film, and George Lucas considered it as a response to the feminist movement that was taking place in the 1970s.
14. Chewbacca was almost Han’s adopted father
In an alternate Star Wars reality, Han Solo might have grown up on the wookie world of Kashyyk, with Chewbacca acting as an adoptive father to the young orphan.
The origins of this potential backstory come from a pitched draft for Revenge of The Sith, which also includes the 10 year old Han meeting Jedi Master Yoda. The two would have shared a brief exchange that went like this:
Han: “I found a part of a transmitter droid near the East Bay. I think it’s still sending and receiving signals.”
Yoda: “Good, good. Track this we can back to the source. Find General Grievous we might.”
It would have been cool to see a young Han in Episode 3. However, a small unimportant cameo would not have been worth the sacrifice of a much more in-depth origin story, which fans will soon see in the upcoming untitled Han Solo stand-alone movie!
13. Return of The Jedi’s incredibly dark ending
Return of The Jedi was another Star Wars film that had multiple different endings planned out – and not all of them were happy.
The original ending, written by producer Gary Kurtz, had a much darker and more bittersweet ending. Instead of everyone surviving and celebrating during the last scene, Han Solo would have died in the assault on the shield generator on Endor. Darth Vader would have still destroyed The Emperor, as well as getting himself killed in the process. However, Luke would have walked away from everyone and everything at the end. Gary Kurtz described him walking away like “Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns.”
This would’ve left Leia alone with the full responsibility of the Alliance and building the New Republic. George Lucas decided to rewrite the entire outline to have a more “kid friendly” ending.
12. Han was almost a green-skinned alien
Who knew that Han Solo, handsome scoundrel and captain of the Millenium Falcon, was almost a green-skinned alien creature?
It’s true! During the pre-production of A New Hope, Ralph McQuarrie had done some initial concept art sketches of Han’s character, only not how we know him now. The sketches envisioned Han as a non-humanoid with long black hair and green skin. Not only was his appearance different, but his backstory as well. In this early version of the story, Luke was a much older Jedi General who was apparently old war buddies with Han.
11. Darth Vader and Boba Fett were almost brothers
During the original trilogy, not much was known about the history of Boba Fett.
One idea that George Lucas considered during development of the original movies was giving Darth Vader and Boba Fett more than just a business relationship, but a familial connection as brothers. It would definitely give them a cold, unbrotherly love type of relationship given their interactions with each other in The Empire Strikes Back, but fans could’ve easily let that one slide.
This concept came to light by George’s ex-wife, Marcia, who also helped George fine tune the important plot points in A New Hope. Lucas decided to scrap the idea altogether.
10. Leia almost didn’t kiss Luke on the Death Star
A much smaller detail that almost never made it on the big screen was the good luck kiss between Leia and Luke on the Death Star.
It wouldn’t have made a difference to the main storyline either way, but it did add a nice touch – that is until it was later revealed that Luke and Leia were siblings. That’s pretty gross in retrospect, but not as bad as the make-out session between the two in The Empire Strikes Back.
The decision to keep the kiss was encouraged by George Lucas’ wife, who also was the one to decide to have Obi-Wan Kenobi killed in A New Hope. It was also his wife that came up with the most intense segment – the trench run.
9. Chewie almost had a robotic arm
It’s almost a Star Wars tradition now to lose an arm and have it replaced with cyber-prosthetics.
Early concept art for The Force Awakens showed a battle-torn Chewbacca with one hairy arm, and in its place, a new robotic one. However, this idea never made it past the concept art phase and never had a proper backstory as to why and how Chewbacca lost his arm in the first place. The only type of explanation for it was on the sketches themselves which said, “from war wounds.”
The idea would be ironic due to the fact that Han makes it clear in A New Hope that Wookiees have a tendency to pull people’s arms off, thanks to their tempers.
8. Poe Dameron was originally meant to die in The Force Awakens
It may surprise fans to find out that Poe Dameron was never meant to survive the beginning of The Force Awakens.
In the first sequence of The Force Awakens, Poe is on the planet Jakku on a mission to retrieve a piece of a star map with coordinates to the legendary Luke Skywalker. Things don’t go well for Poe, as he is quickly captured by the First Order.
Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) said in an interview with GQ Magazine that he was excited to possibly play the character when he first met with Director J.J. Abrams, but was disheartened when told of the original plans to have him killed so quickly. Keeping Isaac on his toes, Abrams later changed his mind and let the resistance pilot survive.
7. Obi-Wan almost survived A New Hope
Seeing a balanced conflict between Luke and Obi-Wan versus Darth Vader and The Emperor would have made for a more interesting finale.
This very well might’ve been the case, as George Lucas originally intended for Old Ben to survive the end of A New Hope, instead of allowing Darth Vader to kill him. Luke would’ve come to Obi-Wan’s aide at the last minute as they all escaped the Death Star together. The fight ended up being more stagnant than originally intended, when it was going to show a lot more athleticism from both fighters. However, the limits of the film at the time prevented this.
6. Darth Vader was originally a bounty hunter
While Darth Vader may have taken part in some of the same activities as bounty hunters, he was a Sith through and through.
The original idea behind The Emperor and Darth Vader wasn’t the same master and apprentice relationship that was shown in the movies. Darth Vader was going to be a very dark and menacing bounty hunter, similar to Boba Fett, who just worked alongside the Empire, rather than for them.
Through development, Darth Vader went from being a bounty hunter, a mercenary, a knight, to finally ending up as the Dark Lord of the Sith. In fact, the character of Boba Fett was created from the early concepts of Darth Vader!
5. Jabba The Hutt was originally a human
Only original fans of Star Wars may remember that the sluglike creature that is Jabba The Hutt was once a man.
The scene where Jabba The Hutt waits for Han at the hangar bay in Mos Eisley was never actually released in the theatrical version of A New Hope. However, fans who watched the 1983 documentary, From Star Wars To Jedi, could watch the scene for the first time only to see that Jabba was actually played by a man, Decland Mullholland.
The scene wasn’t actually added to the movie at all until the 1997 Special Edition was released and the non-humanoid version of Jabba was super-imposed over the original actor.
4. Yoda was almost played by a monkey
A little-known fact about the legendary Jedi Master Yoda is that he was almost portrayed by a monkey!
This interesting revelation came to light from J.W. Rinzler’s book The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 2010. The idea was that Yoda would be portrayed by a monkey who was wearing a mask and held Yoda’s cane.
Of all of George Lucas’ bad ideas, this one might’ve taken the cake. Thankfully his production crew talked him out of it and instead they used Jim Henson to create the first animatronic puppet to ever be used in movie history.
3. Luke almost became Darth Vader
George Lucas rewrote drafts for all of his movies multiple times, sometimes with completely different endings.
When rewriting Gary Kurtz’ draft for Return of The Jedi, Lucas considered the idea of Luke becoming the next Dark Lord. It would have gone something like this: the destruction of The Emperor, Vader and the second Death Star would happen the same way, except after Luke removes Vader’s helmet he would put it on and say, “Now I am Vader“.
Not only would he continue the legacy of Darth Vader, he would also declare himself Emperor and personally destroy the Rebel fleet. Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi, fully supported this idea but George Lucas ended up giving the movie a happier ending.
2. Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor almost survived Rogue One
Rogue One was the first Star Wars film ever to kill off all the main protagonists.
The first death belonged to K-2S0, followed by Chirrut Imwe, Bodhi Rook, Baze Malbus, and lastly Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor. However, in early drafts of the standalone film, Jyn and Cassian were going to survive the movie. Gareth Edwards, who directed Rogue One, said in an interview that because it was a Star Wars film he didn’t think he would be allowed to kill off all the characters and originally wrote an ending where they escaped.
When he was later told by Lucasfilm executives that it made sense for them all to die, especially given the timeline and their absence in the original trilogy, the story was altered to include their deaths.
1. Luke’s father almost appeared as a force ghost in A New Hope
In one of the five drafts for A New Hope, George Lucas had Luke meeting his father… only as a Force ghost.
Back before George Lucas had decided the true identity of Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father, Lucas’ was tinkering with the notion that Obi-Wan wasn’t actually playing word games with Luke about the fate of his father. One way or another, most likely at the hands of Vader, In an earlier draft, Luke was supposedly going to meet Anakin, who would appear to his son as a Force ghost.
However, when it came to finalizing the script for the movie, Lucas decided to cut the idea entirely. Fans wouldn’t see the first force ghost until Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to Luke on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back!
Are there other “almosts” from Star Wars that would’ve changed everything? Let us know in the comments!
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