The Plan Behind George Lucas' Original Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Explained

The annual Star Wars Celebration revealed some major plans ahead for the galaxy far, far away. Not only were there updates on live-action shows like "Ahsoka" and "The Acolyte," but Lucasfilm revealed three new movies are on the way — each focusing on a different timeline in "Star Wars" lore. One film is set to take place prior to the events of "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," as it reveals the beginning of the Jedi. The second film will connect to the current Disney live-action shows as it follows the tales of the New Republic. And the final film will bring back Daisy Ridley's Rey as she rebuilds the Jedi Order.

And while all of this news is a surprise to be sure, it's a welcome one. However, we can't help but look back at what could have been if not for Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. Back in 2012, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas sold the "Star Wars" universe to the House of Mouse for over $4 billion. Unfortunately, the trilogy of films that Disney created was met with divisive criticism, as some fans felt they failed to capture the magic that once was. And while the TV shows have managed to reignite fans' love for the franchise, we can't help but tap into our nostalgia and look back at what if. Luckily, we don't have to look too far for our answers, as they're revealed in Paul Duncan's book "The Star Wars Archives 1999-2005." In it, Lucas shares exactly what he had planned to do for his version of sequel films in the "Star Wars" universe. Naturally, we're breaking it all down below.

Rebuilding the Republic

Initially, Lucas revealed that his sequel series would heavily focus on the late Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia Organa. His story would have taken place a few years following the events of "Return of the Jedi," when the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) had been defeated. With both him and Darth Vader (James Earl Jones and David Prowse) gone, the Rebel Alliance would have begun to dismantle the Empire. To sustain peace across the galaxy, Leia would begin to establish the Republic as a democratic entity rather than a dictatorship. According to Lucas, Leia is the perfect character to set things back to normal, stating, "Who else is going to be the leader?" (via Far Out Magazine).

Prior to the Empire's rise, the Republic was a democratic union with elected senators to represent each planet of the Republic. The supreme chancellor was an elected senator who would lead the Republic during their term. This chancellor would also have the power to govern the ecumenopolis Coruscant, the capital of the Republic. The Emperor disguised himself as a senator from Naboo named Palpatine. Once he got himself elected as chancellor in "The Phantom Menace," he fabricated a war to remain in power. He manipulated both sides so that he could have an army created for him while corrupting the young Jedi Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) to the dark side. Once his plan was fully formed, Palpatine reconstructed the Republic senate into his new Galactic Empire and ruled over the galaxy for years with an iron fist of fear and violence. It makes sense that Leia's first order of business would be to undo all the damage the Empire was responsible for.

Bringing the Jedi back

With his sister, Leia, busy rebuilding the democratic Republic, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) would have spent his time trying to rebuild the Jedi. In the original "Star Wars" series, Luke is seemingly the last Jedi. While it's revealed that Leia is Force-sensitive, she has not received training as Luke has. However, with the Empire gone, it's up to Luke to find other Force-sensitive children to train, bringing the Jedi back once more.

This idea Lucas had for Luke is very similar to what audiences are currently seeing Luke attempt to do. In Disney's sequel films, we learn that Luke had a school of young Jedi that he trained. However, his nephew, Ben Solo (Adam Driver), destroyed it once he was corrupted by the dark side. Luke saw this darkness building inside of him, and in a moment of weakness, he ignited his lightsaber, seemingly debating whether or not to attack. Ben woke up to see his uncle and master about to attack him and destroyed everything around them in a fit of rage.

This is expanded on in the "Star Wars" TV shows, as audiences see Luke beginning his search for Jedi. He finds Grogu and attempts to train him before ultimately allowing him to go back to Mandalorian Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). He even connects with his father's old apprentice, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), opening the door for Luke to come across other Jedi who survived Order 66.

While Lucas' "Star Wars" sequel vision may never come to fruition, audiences have gotten a taste of Luke as a full-fledged Jedi who trains younglings to follow his path — even if it's for a short while.

Underground stormtroopers

"The Star Wars Archives 1999-2005" reveals that as Luke and Leia attempt to rebuild the Jedi and the Republic, Lucas said, they would face an "underworld" of stormtroopers who have not let the Empire go. According to Lucas, these "offshoot stormtroopers" would have banded together to take over planets and directly fight against the New Republic. It's likely that Lucas imagined the old gang getting back together to stop the Empire from trying to rise once more. One could even surmise that Luke might bring along some of his padawans to get real-life experience on their path to becoming Jedi knights.

Again, this idea is also something that's currently being explored in canon "Star Wars" properties — it's just slightly different. In the Disney films, the First Order rises from the ashes of the Empire. The new proto-Empire unit's ability to outsmart the New Republic is explored in Season 3 of "The Mandalorian." Much like Lucas initially wanted to explore in his sequel series, "The Mandalorian" outlines that there are still fractions of the Empire attempting to rebuild what they've lost. And with the use of Dr. Penn Pershing's (Omid Abtahi) science, they have the key to bringing the Empire (and likely the Emperor) back. While Disney's sequel series takes place years later, with the First Order well into its rise to power, Lucas' series might have stopped the Empire from reaching its goal of returning to full strength.

The return of Maul

In the Disney sequel trilogy, "somehow" the Emperor returns and is responsible for the rise of the First Order. And while "Star Wars" TV shows like "The Mandalorian" are trying to explain just how he managed to do that, Lucas had a different idea for the big bad Luke would have to fight. Instead of the return of the Emperor, Lucas wanted to bring a different villain back — Maul. Portrayed by Ray Park in "The Phantom Menace," Maul was seemingly killed by the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) when he cut him in half after Maul killed his master, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). At the time, this showed Obi-Wan's skill and growth; however, killing Maul was something Lucas might have regretted, as he wanted to bring Maul back for future projects.

It seems as though his sequel series was how Lucas planned to do just that. With the Emperor gone, Maul would have resurfaced as the main antagonist for these films. He would have a new apprentice named Darth Talon, and together they would attempt to fill in the gap as the new leaders in the galaxy. Lucas said he intended for Maul to be a gangster, with crime syndicates like his Crimson Dawn filling the power vacuum left in the wake of the Emperor's death. Though Maul wasn't in the sequel trilogy, his appearances in "The Clone Wars," "Rebels," and "Solo: A Star Wars Story" continue the concept of Maul as a sort of intergalactic godfather.

What canonically happened to Maul?

So what's Maul's story? How did he survive being cut in half? And when does he truly die? Maul managed to survive his duel with Obi-Wan thanks to his hatred. He crawled his upper half to the bottom of the Naboo palace and was swept away in the garbage dump. He was then shipped away with the trash to the junkyard planet Lotho Minor. There, he built himself spider-like legs and was forced to survive off whatever garbage came his way. That is until his brother Savage Opress (voiced by Clancy Brown) finds him. He brings his brother back to their home planet Dathomir, where Mother Talzin (Barbara Dale Goodson) uses magic to restore Maul's fragmented mind and body.

From there Maul has a singular focus — revenge. He and his brother create a crime syndicate to gain power and attract Obi-Wan's (James Arnold Taylor) attention. Maul takes over Mandalore and kills the planet's pacifist leader, Duchess Satine (Anna Graves), the woman Obi-Wan loves. However, things take a turn when the Emperor (Ian Abercrombie) steps in, kills Savage, and captures Maul. Luckily, his loyal Mandalorians rescue him, and he returns to Mandalore to set a trap for Obi-Wan. Instead, he's captured by Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) but manages to escape during Order 66.

From there Maul rebuilds his crime syndicate, the Crimson Dawn. Eventually, he returns to his singular focus of finding Kenobi. With the help of the young and naive Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), Maul finds Obi-Wan on Tatooine. They briefly duel, and Obi-Wan kills him. As he dies in Kenobi's arms, he asks if Obi-Wan is there to protect the chosen one. When Kenobi confirms this, Maul dies saying that he will avenge them all.

Here's what George Lucas could have done with Maul instead

While Lucas had no intention of killing off Maul the way Dave Filoni and company do in "Rebels," there is a way Lucas could have created his sequel story without ruining Maul's ending. And we'd like to suggest just how it could be done. Instead of having Maul survive as the master to his apprentice Talon, he could be a Force ghost in Lucas' sequel trilogy. This way, audiences would have still seen Maul as he influences Talon, just as Obi-Wan did for Luke after he died in "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope."

The sequel films would be then able to dip their toes in a few flashback scenes between Maul and Talon. This would give audiences an idea of how they met and what her training was like. Perhaps Talon was part of his crime syndicate, the Crimson Dawn, but ultimately left when it fell apart. Once Maul became obsessed with finding the Sith Holocron to discover if Obi-Wan is alive, Talon also could have left her master — believing that his obsession with Kenobi was too much for her. Once Talon discovers that Maul is dead, she becomes dead set on picking up where he left off, becoming the new superpower in the galaxy. And once the Empire falls, Talon could seize the opportunity to make her master proud.

This sequel series would have rewritten Star Wars canon

Prior to the recent films and TV shows, there was a massive extended "Star Wars" universe that spread across the galaxy through comics, video games, and books. This storyline followed the main players in "Star Wars" as they grow up, have families, and help change the galaxy for the better after overthrowing the Empire.

In this extended universe, Luke gets married to Mara Jade, a Force-sensitive human with a troubled past. Initially, she was the Emperor's hand, who took care of assignments for him in secret. Her identity was never revealed, but she had a telepathic link to the Emperor so that he could instruct missions to her. She would typically carry out assassinations and was described as being a cold servant to the Emperor.

After they meet up and hit it off, though, Luke and his unlikely love interest get married and have a son, Ben Skywalker. Leia and Han have three children: Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin. Their son, Jacen, gets corrupted by the dark side, as Anakin Skywalker had been before him, and ends up killing Mara Jade. In the end, it's his sister (and twin) Jaina who stops his reign, killing him. This story would have been great to see on the big screen, but unfortunately, after Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, these stories are no longer considered canon.

Darth Talon could have been a stand-in for Mara Jade

Mara Jade is one of the most interesting characters introduced in the "Star Wars" Legends material. Prior to his death, the Emperor instructed Mara to kill Luke Skywalker. The assignment was one that she could not shake until the deed was done. However, once she finally met Luke, they were forced to work together. She managed to kill a clone version of Skywalker, thus fulfilling her duty to the Emperor on a technicality. Mara stayed with Luke, and the two eventually fall in love. She's of course a skilled fighter from her time working with the Empire, but she also proves to be deeply loyal to her family. When she's tragically slain by her nephew, Jacen, she's able to die at peace with the Force.

Perhaps Darth Talon as Lucas imagined the character could have been a stand-in for Mara Jade. Like her, Talon was trained by the Dark side and could have been out to kill Luke. It would have been interesting if, instead of killing her, Luke manages to turn her back to the light. Maybe the two could have fallen in love.

However, at the time Timothy Zahn was writing his sequel novels and introducing Mara Jade, there was resistance to the idea of her and Luke marrying. So it's not as though every fan would be on board such a decision in a hypothetical sequel trilogy. Especially if you swap out the beloved character Mara Jade for a different character.

Why did George Lucas abandon his plans?

Paul Duncan's book "The Star Wars Archives 1999-2005" includes a conversation with Lucas about why he opted not to create his sequel films. Lucas said making three "Star Wars" films takes a lot of time, revealing that the prequel series took 10 years to make. And at the time he was debating on going back into the thick of things and his wife was pregnant, so he decided to take time to himself and spend it with his family rather than in another galaxy.

The director even toyed with the idea of getting someone else within Lucasfilm to take the lead, but he recalls attempting to do that with "Return of the Jedi," and things didn't go as planned. "I was there every day. Even though the people were friends of mine and they did great work, it wasn't the same as me doing it ... I knew that probably wouldn't work again" (via The Playlist).

The director made the decision to pack things up and retire — he sold Lucasfilm to Disney. Lucas said that while he's made peace with this decision, it's still painful to think about. Especially since he planned on still being involved with the franchise in some small capacity. "I thought I was going to have a little bit more to say about the next three because I'd already started them, but they decided they wanted to do something else." In fact, Lucas had given Disney his sequel concept that he had been working on, but they decided to go in a completely different direction, bringing in various new writers to build a new story for "The Force Awakens."

How does George Lucas feel about Disney's sequel trilogy?

Lucas has stayed relatively tight-lipped about his feelings on Disney's sequel trilogy. These films have stirred some pretty strong fan reactions as some of the most divisive projects in the "Star Wars" universe. In fact, they have caused many fans to look fondly back at the prequel trilogy, a series that was once considered to be a joke in the "Star Wars" universe. So where does Lucas stand in all this?

Initially, Lucas said, he found "The Force Awakens" to be repetitive, claiming that Disney "[wants] to make something for the fans" and "do their won thing," he told Charlie Rose in a 2015 PBS interview. His take on "The Last Jedi," which is arguably the most divided film for fans, was surprisingly more positive. Rather than focusing on the story, Lucas opted to praise the cinematography, having his rep state that it was "beautifully made" (via The Hollywood Reporter). But that's about all he said. And once "The Rise of Skywalker" came out, Lucas had absolutely no comment to make. And that in itself speaks volumes, especially since he had nothing but absolute praise when reviewing "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." Director Gareth Edwards gleefully revealed that he could "die happy" knowing that he's gotten Lucas' stamp of approval for his film, stating that he's a big fan of the director, and that "his opinion means the world" to him (via The Washington Post).

Whelp, it seems like that "divorce" Lucas had from the "Star Wars" franchise is in full swing.