In February, O.G. Star Wars cast member, and the guy behind the mask of everybody’s favorite Wookiee, Peter Mayhew announced on his Twitter page that he would reveal big news. But before that, he promised to embark on a series of tweets showing selections from his personal copy of Star Wars creator George Lucas’s original script. Star Wars fans know that Lucas had a whole mess of crazy ideas for his groundbreaking 1977 film before it went before cameras, and details changed even during production. But Mayhew just dropped a doozy of a surprise from the script about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Mayhew shared a look at the early script of the famous duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader on the original Death Star. In the final film, the fateful meeting between the ex-master and apprentice leads to Obi-Wan sacrificing himself for Luke, Han, and Leia to become one with the Force. It’s a classic scene, and probably the most pivotal moment in the first movie. But it was a bit different in Lucas’s original draft.
Instead of Obi-Wan being struck down, he books it to the Millennium Falcon with Luke and lives to fight another day. If this had made it to the final movie, it would have invariably changed everything that followed in the entire Star Wars saga.
Obi-Wan running from his fate meant that Luke’s journey would have absolutely no dramatic stakes, and Yodas teachings in The Empire Strikes Back would probably be meaningless. Obi-Wan teaming up with Yoda for dual Jedi training from two of the most powerful Jedi ever would have taken the skepticism out of Luke’s character to lead him to make the rash decision to cut his training short and fight Vader on Cloud City.
The decision to kill off Obi-Wan is basically the best decision Lucas ever made. And besides capitulating to actor Alec Guinness’s legendary distaste for the acting in the movie, it also set up the saga’s tendency for narrative twists. Keep Obi-Wan alive, and Han Solo being trapped in carbonite might not have happened, and Vader revealing himself as Luke’s father might not have happened either.