George Lucas wanted Darth Maul to be the villain of the sequel trilogy. If you follow Star Wars chatter online, you've probably already heard this one. And if you doubt that George Lucas actually said this, well, it's true, and it wasn't in a random interview either.
In the final pages of a mammoth new coffee table book called The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005, Lucas tells author Paul Duncan exactly what he had in mind for his sequels, and how it differed from what we ended-up seeing with the official sequel trilogy.
Here's the thing, though. If you dig into the details of Lucas's plan for a sequel trilogy, the basic story could still be done. And, the best part is, nothing that happens in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, or The Rise of Skywalker would have to be contradicted. In fact, if Disney has any moxie, the studio will make Lucas' plan for these sequel stories happen in the form of a Disney+ miniseries. Here's how it could work.
First things first. There is no reason to believe that Disney and Lucasfilm are planning a miniseries or series of films focused on the Skywalkers set just after Return of the Jedi. Yes, there's been rumors of a Han Solo series and a Lando Calrissian series, but that's about it. The actual news is George Lucas outlining his ideas for how his sequel trilogy would have gone. Let's break down the basics of what he said.
- Leia would have been the most important character, "the Chosen One." (But mostly as a political leader, not a Jedi!)
- Luke would have started to rebuild the Jedi Order, eventually.
- Darth Maul would have trained a female Sith named Darth Talon, who would have been the true villain
- Rogue Stormtroopers would have "started their own planets."
Of all these details, the only one that is a challenge to existing canon is the idea that Darth Maul died in Star Wars Rebels, which means he's not around to act as a looming post-Return of the Jedi figure because, in canon, he dies before A New Hope. But, considering Maul trained an apprentice in Lucas's version, it would be pretty easy to make one modification, and then, adapt Lucas' ideas outright into a Disney+ miniseries.
Recasting Leia and Luke would be essential
Granted, in order for this to work, the audience would need to accept new actors in the roles of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. But Considering that Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover already pulled this off in 2018 with the characters of Han and Lando, it feels totally possible fans could come around to new actors as Luke and Leia. Hell, maybe even introduce your new Luke and Leia in The Mandalorian in cameos. Why not!
Considering that fans accept Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, there's a precedent here that seems obvious. We already have canonical roughly age-appropriate Lando and Han actors for a post-Return of the Jedi timeframe, now all we need are the Skywalker twins.
By the way, in the past five years, new actors have played "young" Luke and Leia. In Rogue One, Ingvild Deila played Leia, while in deleted scenes for The Force Awakens, Robert Boulter played Luke. On top of this, Mark Hamill has often said Marvel actor Sebastian Stan could play Luke Skywalker.
Darth Maul's death isn't a problem
In the new Star Wars Archives interview, Lucas describes the return of Maul basically the same way he returned in The Clone Wars: with robot spider-legs. But, now that Darth Maul is dead in this new version, why not make it cooler and just have him return as a Sith ghost?
The idea that Darth Talon is the actual threat to the galaxy is already baked-into Lucas' concept here. If the primary antagonist in this storyline is Talon and not Maul, then this could still work. In fact, if Maul died not fully Sith, then his status as a Force ghost could make all of this even more interesting. Who knows, this all could help to retcon exactly how Palpatine "somehow" came back in The Rise of Skywalker.
The timeline works
If a potential "sequel" mini-series was set around the time The Mandalorian – roughly 9 ABY — then anything that happens will have almost three decades worth of buffer to protect it from impacting the events of the sequel trilogy. In other words, Luke, Leia, Han, and Lando can battle Darth Talon and these rogue stormtroopers without contradicting anything in the established canon. Even better, though the concept of Darth Talon appeared in the far-future Star Wars: Legacy comic books, those stories aren't currently canon, which means that character is 100 percent fair-game.
There are a lot of unanswered questions about what happened to Luke, Leia, and the New Republic in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Yes, there are books and comics, and even The Mandalorian, but the truth is, this stuff from George Lucas sounds pretty juicy.
What would happen if Star Wars reinvented itself on television, recast the classic characters, and told a new story based on something George Lucas wanted in the first place? When you think about it like that, it sounds like we just figured out how to balance the Force.
The Star Wars Archive: 1999-2005 is on sale now.