By now you may have seen the recent discussion about George Lucas’s ideas for a Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Included in Paul Duncan’s upcoming book, The Star Wars Archives 1999-2005, are interviews with the Star Wars creator, including him talking about ideas he had for the sequel trilogy. And they’re notable enough that it’s no surprise they’ve gotten plenty of attention in recent days.
Consider, for instance, the fact that Darth Maul would be back as the villain of the trilogy:
“Darth Maul trained a girl, Darth Talon, who was in the comic books, as his apprentice. She was the new Darth Vader, and most of the action was with her. So these were the two main villains of the trilogy. Maul eventually becomes the godfather of crime in the universe because, as the Empire falls, he takes over.”
Additionally, Luke Skywalker would attempt to rebuild the Jedi Order from scratch, while the real focus of the trilogy would be on Leia Organa:
“By the end of the trilogy, Luke would have rebuilt much of the Jedi, and we would have the renewal of the New Republic, with Leia, Senator Organa, becoming the Supreme Chancellor in charge of everything. So she ended up being the Chosen One.”
Lucas also said that the trilogy would be about Leia trying to rebuild the Republic and Luke trying to rebuild the Jedi:
“The movies are about how Leia – I mean, who else is going to be the leader? – is trying to rebuild the Republic… Luke is trying to restart the Jedi.”
Ok, so there’s a lot here. And what should we make of it all? I have two primary thoughts.
1) Things change
It is not accurate to say this is how the sequel trilogy WOULD have been under George Lucas; it is accurate to say that this is how the sequel trilogy COULD have been under George Lucas.
Because here are some things that we know about the story treatments that Lucas gave to Disney, as has been revealed in various material since then: the story would revolve around a young Jedi girl going to find Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in exile, and Luke would die at the end of the second film. Sound familiar? It should. Those elements were included in the story treatments Lucas gave Disney, and it’s no secret that Lucas felt betrayed that Disney didn’t really make those films. But many of the core elements remained.
It’s unclear whether Maul and Talon remained in those story treatments, but I’m skeptical of it. Why? Because George Lucas changes his mind. That’s not at all a negative; that’s the way Star Wars has been made, and it’s a great thing for a creative genius like Lucas. He is filled with ideas, and he’ll entertain a ton of different ideas until he finds one that he likes best. So Lucas’s outline for the sequel trilogy surely changed over the years, and guess what? It would have surely changed over the course of making it if Lucas actually did his sequel trilogy.
So yes, some of these ideas may sound cool, but don’t go off saying, “well this is the sequel trilogy we would have gotten if Lucas was still involved!” We don’t know that. From all indications, several of the key beats of the sequel trilogy (including those that fans disliked the most, by the way) were directly taken from Lucas’s final story treatments.
2) We actually have seen a lot of these ideas already
But now let me go in a separate direction here and say that we’ve actually seen a lot of these ideas from Lucas anyway, just not necessarily in the way he envisioned. Let’s break this up into a few different aspects of these quotes, and then look at whether we’ve seen them or not:
Darth Maul surviving and becoming a godfather of crime – We have seen this. Though it does not happen after the fall of the Empire, it happens after the fall of the Republic. As Maul tries to gather control, he picks up on his criminal connections and leads Crimson Dawn. Lucas’s idea of Maul becoming a crime godfather has come true.
Darth Talon being Maul’s apprentice – We have not seen this. Talon has not come back; however, she was part of the brainstorming process early in The Force Awakens. There was a big bad guy (“Uber”), and then there was the idea that Talon corrupted the son of Han and Leia. But as things went on, “Uber” became Snoke, and the son of Han and Leia became the “Jedi Killer” rather than Talon. So we haven’t actually seen Talon, and we’ve had nothing about her being Maul’s apprentice, but she was part of the consideration very early in the process of storyboarding and developing Episode VII.
Luke rebuilding the Jedi – This happened. The difference is that whereas Lucas’s idea is to have the sequel trilogy showing him trying to rebuild it (and ending with him succeeding), the sequel trilogy we got is set after Luke already tried to rebuild it. Luke started his training temple, took on a dozen or so students, and trained them for many years in the ways of the Force. This all happened. So yes, Luke did rebuild the Jedi. It was just then subsequently destroyed, and we picked up the story after that all happened as opposed to before or during it.
Leia rebuilding the Republic – This has also happened, though mainly through the books. Leia chose not to pursue the Jedi path and instead focused on fighting in the political realm, as she was one of the key leaders in bringing about the New Republic. Lucas’s vision included how it would be much harder to build a Republic than take down an Empire, and that is exactly what happened in canon too. And though Leia didn’t become the Supreme Chancellor, she almost did (or at least its equivalent) – until the revelation of her true parentage ended that. So this also is pretty close to what happened, but we’re just setting it after much of it happened.
Leia as the Chosen One – And as for Leia being the Chosen One? Well, no, that hasn’t happened. However, the sequel trilogy (and other new canon material) has done a terrific job of honoring Leia’s legacy and showing her power and strength, including in the Force. The whole “Chosen One” thing remains a bit fuzzy, but it still seems fair to say that it’s Anakin Skywalker. So this hasn’t really happened, but I will say that Leia has received much honor and strength so far in the new canon.
So yeah, a lot of these elements have been used, and since George Lucas is a creative genius who continues to come up with new ideas, I wonder if we’ve actually gotten about as many of these things coming to pass as we would have if Lucas actually developed his sequel trilogy.
That’s all speculation, of course, but let me just return to what I said earlier: these comments represent not what would have happened but what could have happened. And what did happen contains many of these general plot points anyway, just not exactly in the same way as Lucas originally intended. So, if anything, perhaps these quotes should go to show just how much of an influence Lucas’s ideas continue to have on the universe he created.