Before he sold the rights to Disney, George Lucas had his own vision for a new Star Wars trilogy. He had a lot written. He’d already created an outline for the trilogy, worked with Michael Arndt to write an early script, and approved concept art for the movies that, for a time, he was going to make himself.
We’ll never get to see Lucas’s version of those films, but little details have slipped out. The people who have seen his ideas have had a hard time keeping their mouths closed—and thanks to them, we have a decent idea of what a new Star Wars trilogy would have looked like with George Lucas at the helm.
Back in 1983, Mark Hamill let a little hint about Lucas’s dream for a new trilogy slip: Luke Skywalker was to be a father.
At the time, Hamill expected to start filming in the year 2000, and while it took a lot longer than that for Star Wars: Episode VII to hit theaters, Lucas never seems to have given up on that part of his dream. Time and time again, he’s said that his trilogy was supposed to focus on Darth Vader’s grandchildren—which Lucas made clear didn’t just mean Leia’s children but Luke’s, too.
“People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems—it’s not about spaceships,” Lucas told CBS when Disney’s movie came out. Clearly, Lucas wasn’t happy with what had hit the screen. He told them: “They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing.”
Lucas seems to hold a bit of a grudge about it. When Vanity Fair magazine gave him the chance to ask new Star Wars director J.J. Abrams a question, an irate-looking George Lucas asked: “What happened to Darth Vader’s grandchildren?”
The villain in Lucas’s movies, according to Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo, was going to be pulled out of the pages of a Star Wars comic book. She was a red-skinned alien named Darth Talon, and she was going to corrupt Han Solo’s son.
In Lucas’s script, Solo’s son—who he called “Sam”—wasn’t going to start on the dark side. He was going to start the movie as, basically, another Han Solo. Lucas’s writer, Michael Arndt, described him as “pure charisma,” and the art shows him looking almost exactly like a young Han Solo, with the same jacket, blaster, and everything.
Darth Talon was going to be a seductress. An early storyboard shows her luring a Jedi monk out of a bar, sleeping with him, and then apparently leaving him for dead. She would be the one who would lure young Sam Solo into the dark side.
Apparently, Lucas wanted Talon to talk like Lauren Bacall. While writing the script, he visited LucasArts game studios and told them to work Darth Talon into an (ultimately unreleased) game.
“He likened Darth Talon to Lauren Bacall,” one of the developers has said. “He actually did an impersonation of her. It was supposedly the weirdest impersonation of a ’40s actress going, ‘Don’t you know how to whistle? Put your lips together and blow.’ ”
Lucas’s heroes were going to be kids, according to J.J. Abrams. They were to be “very young,” apparently in their early teens—one of the first ideas Disney nixed.
The story, according to writer Michael Arndt, was supposed be the origin story of a young female Jedi named Kira—a character who, over time, evolved into Disney’s Rey. She was, according to writer Michael Arndt, a “scavenger” and a “loner, hothead, gear-headed badass.”
Her age is a bit hard to nail down. Despite Abrams’s comments, Lucas has said that the Skywalker children, in his movie, were going to be in their twenties, leading some to say that Abrams wasn’t telling the truth.
It’s possible, though, that Abrams and Lucas were both telling the truth. Lucas only said that the Skywalker kids would be in their twenties—and there’s every reason to believe that Kira wasn’t a Skywalker.
Michael Arndt has said that, even while working with Lucas, Kira was meant to be “the ultimate outsider and the ultimate disenfranchised person.” That strongly suggests that she wasn’t a Skywalker—and that J.J. Abrams was telling the truth, that Lucas’s version of Rey was going to be an angry teenage girl, caught up in the throes of puberty.
In George Lucas’s version of Star Wars VII, Kira was going to meet Luke Skywalker, who would reluctantly train her in the ways of the Force.
It was going to have more or less the plot we saw in Star Wars: The Last Jedi—but Luke would be an even darker character than the one we saw. According to Phil Szostak, the author of The Art of The Last Jedi, George Lucas wanted to model his Luke Skywalker on Apocalypse Now ’s Colonel Kurtz.
As in the Disney movie we saw, George Lucas’s Luke Skywalker was going to be living in exile in the first Jedi temple. He’d already approved the design, which was to look like a golden bell perched on the edge of a cliff.
Kira would waste no time getting to Luke Skywalker. Michael Arndt summed up the script, saying: “[Kira] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass.”
Finding Skywalker wouldn’t be much of a problem in Lucas’s film. In his version, R2-D2 was fully functional and had a working map of every Jedi temple readily at his disposal.
One of the many moments in The Phantom Menace that infuriated everybody was the idea that the Jedi had a “midichlorian count.” Fans almost universally hated the idea that the Force had some scientific, biological explanation.
If you complained about it, you might be happy to know that George Lucas heard your grumbling. He knew people hated the midichlorians. He just didn’t care.
Lucas was dead set on doubling down on the idea with his new trilogy. His final trilogy, he’s said, was “going to get into a microbiotic world” where we’d see the creatures that control the force. “I call them the Whills,” Lucas explained. “And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”
He already knew we weren’t going to like it. “A lot of the fans would have hated it,” Lucas admitted, “but at least the story whole story from the beginning to the end would be told.” According to Lucas, “If I’d held onto the company I could have done it.”
Another little detail leaked by Lucasfilm executive Pablo Hidalgo was one of George Lucas’s planned locations: a strange, alien planet called Felucia.
Felucia isn’t a wholly new location. It very briefly appeared in Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith and showed up a few times in the TV show Clone Wars. In Lucas’s sequel trilogy, though, it would have been a major location.
It’s a planet overrun with jungles of towering mushrooms and ferns, all growing in every color of the spectrum. The gigantic, neon-colored mushrooms that fill the planet can shoot out spores and toxic puffballs and even eat human beings whole.
Its natives, the Felucians, are a people in constant tune with the Force who live in the densest jungles of the planet. They share their homes with strange, translucent-skinned aliens, including tube worms, wild alien birds, and gigantic larvae with tiny legs that can be ridden like horses.
It’s not entirely clear what would have happened on Felucia, but Hidalgo says that Lucas’s movies would have brought us further into the planet.
When The Last Jedi came out, Mark Hamill made a comment that revealed two huge plot points from Lucas’s outlines. “I happen to know that George didn’t kill Luke until the end of [Episode] Nine,” he told an interviewer, “after he trained Leia.”
Kira wasn’t going to be Luke’s only Padawan, it seems—Luke was going to be spending either part of the last movie or possibly even the entire trilogy training his sister, Leia.
In another interview, Hamill built on the idea. “I always wondered [ . . . ] why [Leia] wouldn’t fully develop her Force sensibilities,” he mused. “That’s something George Lucas addressed in his original outline for 7, 8, 9.”
The suggestion seems to be that, by the end of the ninth movie, George Lucas was going to have turned Leia into a fully trained Jedi with fully developed Force sensibilities. And then, for whatever reason, Luke would have died, perhaps leaving Leia to take his place as a Jedi knight.
Whatever Lucas’s plan was, it was definitely very different from what we saw. “They’re not following George’s ideas,” Hamill complained. “It seems like a waste.”
“What happens to Luke afterward is much more ethereal,” George Lucas once said, describing his plans for the future of Star Wars. He made the comment way back in 1978, but by then, he already had, as he put it: “a tiny notebook full of notes on that.”
It’s hard to say what Lucas meant by “ethereal,” but Mark Hamill, who’s heard Lucas’s visions for the films, has dropped a few hints. He’s said that Luke Skywalker was going to be on “another plane of existence” in the new trilogy. From the wording, it seems like Skywalker was supposed to become something more than a Force ghost like Obi-Wan.
Whatever the idea was, Lucas seems to have had it for a very, very long time. Mark Hamill says that way back in 1976, when they were still filming the first Star Wars, Lucas asked him: “How’d you like to be in Episode IX ?”
Lucas spelled out a little hint of his early vision: “You’ll just be like a cameo. You’ll be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope.”
Not every idea George Lucas had would have been cut. According to Harrison Ford, Han Solo’s death was in the new trilogy from the very start.
“It was mentioned, even in the first call, that he would not survive,” Harrison has said. To him, it was a selling point: “So I said ‘okay.’ ”
There’s a good change Lucas only wrote Solo’s death in to make Harrison happy. While working on Return of the Jedi, Lucas reportedly brushed off a suggestion that he kill of Luke or Yoda, saying: “I have always hated that in movies, when you go along and one of the main characters get killed. This is a fairy tale. You want everyone to live happily ever after.”
Lucas needed Harrison on board, though, and so, as soon as he called him, he pitched the idea of Han Solo’s death. There’s no word on whether Lucas would have actually killed him off in the new trilogy, but Solo’s son was supposed to be a likable hero for most of the first movie. If he did kill his own father, it would have been that much more shocking.
Lucas’s plans didn’t end with Episode IX. In 1978, during the early days of Star Wars, he planned on making, in his words: “three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films.”
That meant three spin-off films—including one about Wookiees. Lucas said: “When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else.”
Apparently, with Lucas at the helm, instead of Rogue One and Solo, we would have gotten a spin-off movie that looked something like the Star Wars Holiday Special, expect without any humans. Instead, from the sounds of it, it would just be an hour and a half of big, hairy monsters incomprehensibly growling at each other.
He was also going to make “a film about robots,” again, “with no humans in it” through the whole hour-and-a-half run.
Of course, that was 1978. Lucas’s vision almost certainly evolved from those half-baked ideas and would have changed even further while he sat down and tried to make the movies.
Since George Lucas will never make the films, we’ll never know for sure what they could have been. We only have a few scraps of information, with our imaginations left to fill the rest in.