Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Venice Review: Tom McCarthy's 'Spotlight' With Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber & Stanley Tucci Venice Review: Tom McCarthy's 'Spotlight' With Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber & Stanley Tucci Watch: Amazing First Trailer For Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster' With Colin Farrell & Rachel Weisz Watch: Amazing First Trailer For Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Lobster' With Colin Farrell & Rachel Weisz Venice Review: Cary Joji Fukunaga's 'Beasts Of No Nation' Starring Idris Elba Venice Review: Cary Joji Fukunaga's 'Beasts Of No Nation' Starring Idris Elba The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival The 20 Most Anticipated Films Of The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival On The Rise 2015: 20 Screenwriters To Watch On The Rise 2015: 20 Screenwriters To Watch Review: Netflix's 'Narcos' Starring Wagner Moura And Boyd Holbrook Review: Netflix's 'Narcos' Starring Wagner Moura And Boyd Holbrook Joaquin Phoenix Says He Doesn’t Think Making A Blockbuster Would Be "Fulfilling," Calls Chris Pine "F*cking Genius" Joaquin Phoenix Says He Doesn’t Think Making A Blockbuster Would Be "Fulfilling," Calls Chris Pine "F*cking Genius" Watch: Chloe Moretz Fights The Others In First Trailer For 'The 5th Wave' Watch: Chloe Moretz Fights The Others In First Trailer For 'The 5th Wave' James Bond Author Says Idris Elba Is "Too Street" To Play 007, And Bond Is "Weak" In 'Skyfall' James Bond Author Says Idris Elba Is "Too Street" To Play 007, And Bond Is "Weak" In 'Skyfall' Cary Fukunaga Says He "Wasn't Involved" With 'True Detective' Season 2, Explains His Departure From 'It' Cary Fukunaga Says He "Wasn't Involved" With 'True Detective' Season 2, Explains His Departure From 'It' Andrew Garfield Talks “The Pressure To Get It Right” for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Films & If He'll Do Another Franchise Andrew Garfield Talks “The Pressure To Get It Right” for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ Films & If He'll Do Another Franchise Fall 2015 TV Preview: Our 25 Most Anticipated Shows Fall 2015 TV Preview: Our 25 Most Anticipated Shows 'Batman v Superman' And Why Early Screening Reports Need To Be Taken With A Grain Of Kryptonite 'Batman v Superman' And Why Early Screening Reports Need To Be Taken With A Grain Of Kryptonite Looks Like That Black-And-White Version Of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Isn't Getting A Blu-Ray Release After All Looks Like That Black-And-White Version Of 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Isn't Getting A Blu-Ray Release After All The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far 17 Copycat Films Spawned From Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction' 17 Copycat Films Spawned From Quentin Tarantino's 'Pulp Fiction'

5 Things You May Not Know About 'Return Of The Jedi' & How It Could Have Been Much Cooler

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist May 24, 2013 at 1:57PM

This week George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” turns 30. The conclusion to what was then imagined to be the end of the "Star Wars" saga concerned the Rebellion going up against the evil Galactic Empire, which has constructed a second, planet-destroying Death Star that is about to go online. It had a whole bunch of thrills, chills, and fussy robots, but, as we look back on ‘Return of the Jedi’ (and look forward to whatever J.J. Abrams’ "Star Wars: Episode 7" will be,) it’s interesting to note what the sequel might have contained under different conditions– and how it could have ended up being much, much cooler (This as the companion piece to that ran earlier today btw.)
25
Return of the jedi

This week George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” turns 30. The conclusion to what was then imagined to be the end of the "Star Wars" saga concerned the Rebellion going up against the evil Galactic Empire, which has constructed a second, planet-destroying Death Star that is about to go online. It had a whole bunch of thrills, chills, and fussy robots, but, as we look back on ‘Return of the Jedi’ (and look forward to whatever J.J. Abrams’ "Star Wars: Episode 7" will be,) it’s interesting to note what the sequel might have contained under different conditions– and how it could have ended up being much, much cooler (This as the companion piece to that ran earlier today btw.) 

Return Of The Jedi Behind The Scenes
The Ewoks Could Have Been Creepy
As originally envisioned, the inhabitants of the forest moon of Endor weren’t the cuddly, ripped-from-Toys-R-Us stuffed animals. Instead, they were creepy little lizard folk, who you wouldn’t want to hug even if a very large space gun was pointed at your head. Clearly, this would have been a lot cooler – imagine how much more interesting it would have been for Leia (Carrie Fisher) to befriend a creepy little lizard instead of an easily awwwwww-able Ewok? It would have made Endor a far more dangerous place, for both our heroes and the invading Galactic Empire, instead of it being a heavily forested teddy bear’s picnic. Keeping the original Endor inhabitants, too, would have added something that none of the "Star Wars" movies have done particularly well, which is given things a sense of truly scary menace. Yes, there are goosebump-y moments in all of the original films, but imagine watching one of these creatures skitter into an Imperial walker (and just think about what those creatures would have done when they got inside! Splat!) Lucas was more concerned with toy sales than narrative efficiency or inventiveness, so the original Endorians were replaced by Ewoks. And the rest is adorable history.

Han Solo
Han Solo Died First
Perhaps the most celebrated bit of what-if miscellany is the idea that, early in ‘Return of the Jedi,’ Han Solo (Harrison Ford,) the rugged rapscallion who had reformed as part of the Rebellion, would have sacrificed himself selflessly for the good of the cause. Can you imagine that? Forget about Janet Leigh getting offed a third of the way through “Psycho,” this would have made every fanboy and fangirl in the audience shriek in absolute dismay. It would have been a bold proclamation by the filmmakers that no matter how beloved your hero is, they could very well end up on the wrong end of a blaster (and he wouldn’t be coming back as a shimmery Jedi ghost either.) Producer Gary Kurtz elaborated on the plan more specifically in 2010: “The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.” Both co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and Ford himself fought for this plan to be implemented, but Lucas wouldn’t budge, holding steadfast that Han should survive (and thus minimize much of the dramatic potential for the installment,) something that Ford still seems sore about. In 2010, in an interview with Peter Travers for ABC News, Ford commented that, “As a character, he wasn’t so interesting to me. I thought he should have died in the last one.” When Ford was asked what Lucas thought of this plan, Ford shot back (deadpan): “George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.” Once again: commerce trumps creativity; The Dark Side beats out the light.

Luke Skywalker
The Spaghetti Western Ending
At the end of ‘Return of the Jedi,’ the Galactic Empire is defeated: the Emperor is dead, the second Death Star has been reduced to shimmery space dust, Darth Vader has found redemption in his final moments and the cosmos have been liberated (in the “special edition” version of ‘Jedi’ you see celebrations on multiple planets.) Back on Endor, our heroes Luke (Mark Hamill,) Han and Leia have been reunited along with C-3PO and R2-D2 and a bunch of annoying Ewoks, and everyone is insanely happy. But in the original, emotionally resonant ending, the rebel forces were in tatters following a high casualty rate in the battle for the second Death Star, Leia is nervous about taking on duties as the new queen, and Luke would, according to Kurtz, have walked into the sunset alone, “Like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns.” (Kurtz was then quietly asked to leave the production, shortly after he objected to there being a second Death Star, a plot point he rightfully found to be far too derivative.) This ending would have been really amazing, but it would have also robbed us of the Ewok celebration song, and really, are any of us willing to give that up?

This article is related to: Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi , George Lucas, David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Features, Harrison Ford


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates