12 Ways The 'Star Wars' Movies Were Changed At The Last Minute
The rabid fandom of "a galaxy far, far away..." is obsessive over Star Wars in a way that puts other franchises to shame. The most diehard fans hunt down production materials and scour all available media to discover all the Star Wars last minute changes and alternate Star Wars endings you can shake a lightsaber at. Of course, the Star Wars films aren't the only ones to have alterations during production (and even blatant retcons), but there is something so enticing about the various "What ifs...?" of such a beloved continuity.
In light of the leaked Colin Trevorrow script for his version of Episode IX, what other ways could Star Wars films have been different? Does the thought of Han and Leia having a sitdown meal with Darth Vader pique your interest? What about Han sacrificing his life at the end of Return of the Jedi? Let's run through some of the ways this popular space opera could've been very different, and keep your eyes open, nerf herders, as spoilers are sure to follow.
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Darth Vader's Rampage In 'Rogue One' Was Not In The Original Script
One of the most heart-pounding moments of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is near the very end when Darth Vader uses the dark side of the Force in all of its violent glory. Audiences across the globe whooped and hollered at the chance to finally see the frightening might of one of cinema's most infamous villains - but this scene was not originally in the movie at all.
After the film was released, co-writer Chris Weitz went over some of the changes made between the original script and the theatrical cut. In addition to other story changes, the Vader rampage was added later.
"The Darth Vader kicking ass I cannot take credit for," Weitz explained. "That was a later invention."
- Photo: 20th Century Fox2504 VOTES
Han Solo Was To Perish In 'Jedi,' But Lucas Kiboshed The Idea (Possibly Because It Would Hurt Action Figure Sales)
While Han Solo's demise proved to be the defining emotional moment of The Force Awakens, the character was originally supposed to perish during the climax of Return of the Jedi - at least according to producer Gary Kurtz.
During a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kurtz talked about how Lucas changed the story so none of the main characters would meet their maker. “Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy," Kurtz stated. He added:
The original idea was that they would recover Han Solo in the early part of [the] story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.
Mel Brooks's "merchandising!" parody in Spaceballs feels pretty on-point right about now.
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Luke Was To Appear Early In ‘The Force Awakens,’ But He Kept Upstaging The Other Characters
Academy Award-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt was the first writer to take a crack at The Force Awakens before J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over script duties. Arndt originally wanted Luke Skywalker to appear much earlier than he does in the final film.
During a Q&A after the film's release, Arndt dove into the subject. "It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over," Arndt said. "Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, 'Oh f–k, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.'"
It does stand to reason that fans of the classic series would freak out seeing Mark Hamill's character decades after last playing him.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox4662 VOTES
Luke’s Romantic Interest In Leia In 'Empire' Was To Be Much More Explicit
Film industry veteran Leigh Brackett wrote the original script for The Empire Strikes Back, turning in the initial draft just before succumbing to cancer in 1978. Lucas and company would eventually write a different screenplay before starting production.
Brackett's version of the Star Wars sequel would have had interesting ramifications for the future of the franchise, particularly regarding the relationship of Luke and Leia. Today, it's fairly common knowledge that Luke and Leia are siblings, the children of Anakin Skywalker, AKA Darth Vader. However, this wasn't decided until Lucas was working on Return of the Jedi. While Empire was in production, the only thing tying Luke and Leia together was friendship - and maybe a little romantic tension.
In Brackett's screenplay, the romantic tension is ratcheted up, and the pair not only share a passionate kiss, but also debate the merits of beginning a relationship in the middle of an intergalactic conflict. The bones of this scene can be felt in a theatrical trailer for the film that features a deleted scene in which the pair nearly lay on each other.
Of course, now that Luke and Leia are canonically brother and sister, this all feels very awkward.
- Photo: Star Wars - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back / 20th Century Fox5540 VOTES
Luke Was To Be Visited By The Ghost Of His Father, Who Was Not Darth Vader
Before Lucas turned Darth Vader into Anakin Skywalker - creating one of the greatest plot twists in cinema history - Luke's father was just a Jedi who perished at the hands of the Empire's greatest warrior. In Brackett's original script for the Star Wars sequel, Luke was actually visited by the Force Ghost of his father.
In the scene, Anakin tells Luke of his sister - here named Nellith - and asks Luke to take the oath of a Jedi Knight. The scene barely lasts a page and doesn't really play on the fact that Luke is meeting his father for the first time. The oath also makes the Jedi Order appear something more akin to classical ideas of medieval knights as opposed to the monkish direction Lucas would explore in the prequel trilogy.
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The Initial Ending Of 'Rogue One' Had Jyn and Cassian Surviving Their Battle With The Empire
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story flips the script of the franchise by actually having every single one of the heroes perish at the end. "War" is right there in the title and you'd expect a pretty substantial amount of casualties to go along with it... but it wasn't always this way.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, screenwriter Gary Whitta spoke about a different ending in which the two main heroes make it out alive.
"Jyn did survive," Whitta said. "Cassian also survived. There were a lot of casualties on both sides, in both versions of the scripts."