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How George Lucas' Star Wars Episode 9 Would Have Looked

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has proven to be a bit divisive among fans — but in an alternate universe, they were divided by a totally different movie.

George Lucas had his own plans for the sequel trilogy before selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, and it's safe to say that his conclusion to the Skywalker Saga would have borne little resemblance to the film we got.

A key piece of information we have concerning Lucas' vision for the ninth episode of the main Star Wars series comes from Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, in an interview the star gave to IGN in March 2018. Now that Rise of Skywalker has been unleashed on the world, there is new context for his remarks — and it's interesting to take stock of how the creator's plans shifted due to the involvement of new creatives and unforeseen circumstances.

How George Lucas would have finished Luke Skywalker's story

Specifically, Hamill noted that while Lucas had indeed planned to kill off Luke, he didn't intend to do so until the end of Episode 9; you'll recall that Luke essentially sacrificed himself at the conclusion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in order to allow the besieged remains of the Resistance to escape the First Order onslaught on Crait. In Lucas' version of the sequel trilogy, though, Luke would have had another order of business to attend to in the next film: training his sister, Leia, in the ways of the Jedi.

In his talk with IGN, Hamill lamented that this narrative thread was "never played upon" in The Last Jedi, even though that film — the only one of the sequel flicks to be co-written and directed by Rian Johnson rather than J.J. Abrams — was reportedly more in line with Lucas' vision for the trilogy. Of course, it goes without saying that Fisher's death in 2016 resulted in Leia's role in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker being greatly diminished, although given Lucas' affinity for (some might say overzealous reliance on) CGI, it doesn't necessarily follow that this would have been the case had he remained in charge.

George Lucas' Star Wars 9 would have had a major change for Emperor Palpatine

It's pretty easy to pinpoint some of the other major ways in which Lucas' sequel trilogy would have differed from the one we got; for one thing, they would have centered on completely different characters, as Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) were not his creations. Yes, Lucas did intend to bring back Luke, Leia, and Han Solo — but in regard to Rise of Skywalker in particular, there's one returning character from that film that would not have made the cut in Lucas' version.

This would be Ian McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine, whose controversial return was the idea of Abrams and whose big comeback McDiarmid recently admitted to being blindsided by, for a simple reason. Speaking with Digital Spy, the actor revealed that Lucas had no further plans for the character — at least not in terms of the films' in-universe chronology — after his apparent demise during the climax of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. "I thought I was dead! I thought [Palpatine] was dead," McDiarmid said. "Because when we did Return of the Jedi, and I was thrown down that chute to Galactic Hell... I said, 'Oh, does he come back?' And [Lucas] said, 'No, he's dead.' So I just accepted that. But then, of course, I didn't know I was going to be doing the prequels, so in a sense he wasn't dead, because we went back to revisit him when he was a young man. But I was totally surprised by [his return in Rise of Skywalker]."

George Lucas would have leaned into microbiotics for his own Star Wars 9

We can also glean from Lucas' own remarks that, while the iconic principal characters from the original trilogy would have played a major role in his version of the trilogy, the focus of the plot would have been... slightly more esoteric than that of the Disney trilogy. In 2018, a quote from the companion book to the AMC docu-series James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction made the rounds online, and it revealed that Lucas had at one point been prepared to take the story in directions nobody could have foreseen.

"[The sequel films] were going to get into a microbiotic world," Lucas explained. "There's this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force... If I'd held onto the company I could have done it, and then it would have been done. Of course, a lot of the fans would have hated it, just like they did Phantom Menace and everything, but at least the whole story from beginning to end would be told." (via Collider)

Well, this certainly would have been... interesting, and given many observers' gripes that the Disney sequel trilogy suffered from the lack of an overall cohesive vision, Lucas' version may even have proven to be more satisfying for the franchise's fans. It's tough to say, but we feel comfortable in stating one thing, at the very least: however you may have felt about them, Disney's sequels were chock full of dialogue that didn't make us cringe. That's one feat that Lucas has never been able to pull off.