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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.)

No Yoda
Some fascinating "Star Wars"-related documents that were recently released showed that Lucas’ original conception of the Force, even going into ‘Return of the Jedi,’ was that it was something that any mortal could tap into. “Like yoga,” Lucas explained, some people were just better at utilizing that ability than others. (Clearly Lucas changed his mind; in the prequels it’s treated more like a blood disorder than a spiritual ability.) This is a pretty interesting detail, and leads to the larger issue of Yoda in the third film. Originally, Luke was not going to make the return trip to Dagobah, and in pure narrative terms, it makes very little sense that he would break away from the chaos erupting across the galaxy to commune with a little green Muppet. If Yoda wasn’t a part of ‘Jedi,’ it would have deepened the mystery to the character and suggested, as Lucas did previously, that Luke had already tapped into his yoga-like Force abilities; he didn’t need his old master and he was ready to kick ass all on his own. At the time though, director Richard Marquand fought for its inclusion, stressing that “that audiences would feel cheated if there was no scene with Yoda because the importance of Luke's return to Yoda to complete his training.” Lucas also felt that Yoda needed to reiterate that Darth Vader was, in fact, Luke’s father, because he consulted with a child psychologist who deemed that children thinking that Vader had lied to Luke could be potentially damaging. Because filmmakers should obviously take script notes from head-shrinkers.

David Lynch
Directed By… David Lynch?
Eventual 'Jedi' director Richard Marquand did a workmanlike job on the film, juggling complex visual effects, multiple storylines and the constant creative interference by George Lucas. But the movie could have gone down an entirely different path, directorially, one that would have been much, much more interesting. Lucas’ first choice for the gig was David Lynch, who had just come off the critical and commercial success of “The Elephant Man.” Lynch, who would go on to make his own space saga in the wildly divisive “Dune,” recounted the meeting in 2010. “I was asked by George to talk to him about directing ‘Return of the Jedi.’ I had next to zero interest, but I always admired George. He’s a guy who does what he loves. And I do what I love,” Lynch said. “The difference is what George loves makes hundreds of millions of dollars.” 

Lynch was issued a special key and given a map, and when he went to Lucas’ office he was shown illustrations of “Wookies” (probably Ewoks) and “other creatures,” which gave Lynch a headache. Lucas then took Lynch for a joyride in his Ferrari and they ate a restaurant that exclusively sold salads. “That’s when I got almost a migraine headache, and I could hardly wait to get home,” Lynch said. The director then “crawled into a phone booth” and called his agent, telling him, “No way can I do this. No way!” Lynch felt that Lucas should direct it and officially took himself out of the running the following day. Lucas had also offered the job to David Cronenberg, who noted: “Then it was called ‘Revenge of the Jedi.’”

Do you think these additions, changes, or substitutions would have actually made "Return of the Jedi" cooler? Do you enjoy ‘Jedi’ more as a fascinating game of what-if than an actual movie? Sound off below, and may the Force be with you. 

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

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