For the most part, George Lucas has stayed fairly quiet about his own future plans for Star Wars before selling off Lucasfilm and the franchise to Disney. We’ve had teases here and there, but in a new interview, Lucas lifted the lid even further on what could’ve been Star Wars VII through IX — and while there are some surprises, they’re not all ideas that have been left behind.
Speaking with writer Paul Duncan for the massive new coffee table book The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005, Lucas expounded in greater detail the rough outline for his own Star Wars sequel trilogy. Lucas had been considering returning to the galaxy far, far, away since the early 2010s, but the lingering realisation that producing a new trilogy of Star Wars movies would take at least another decade of his life meant that he ultimately passed the torch with Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney.
But what had Lucas left behind? He expounded on some fascinating ideas of how Star Wars would examine its heroes trying to rebuild after winning the galactic civil war. Especially when their surviving opponents in the Empire would essentially become the resistance fighters to their new order.
“I had planned for the first trilogy to be about the father, the second trilogy to be about the son, and the third trilogy to be about the daughter and the grandchildren. Episodes VII, VIII, and IX would take ideas from what happened after the Iraq War,” Lucas says in Star Wars Archives. “‘OK, you fought the war, you killed everybody, now what are you going to do?’ Rebuilding afterwards is harder than starting a rebellion or fighting the war. When you win the war and you disband the opposing army, what do they do? The stormtroopers would be like Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist fighters that joined ISIS and kept on fighting. The stormtroopers refuse to give up when the Republic win.”
But the Imperial remnant Lucas describes wouldn’t have been the main threat of the new trilogy; their fight would’ve created a power vacuum that allowed the long-simmering power base of Star Wars’ criminal underworld — an idea Lucas has long been fascinated with, and had big plans for — would’ve risen to confront our heroes and the remnant alike. Led by a familiar face: Darth Maul.
“They want to be stormtroopers forever, so they go to a far corner of the galaxy, start their own country, and their own rebellion. There’s a power vacuum so gangsters, like the Hutts, are taking advantage of the situation, and there is chaos,” Lucas continued. “The key person is Darth Maul, who had been resurrected in the Clone Wars cartoons — he brings all the gangs together. [Maul]’s very old, and we have two versions of him. One is with a set of cybernetic legs like a spider, and then later on he has metal legs and he was a little bit bigger, more of a superhero. We did all this in the animated series, he was in a bunch of episodes.”
All this is something we ultimately saw in Disney’s own interpretation of the Star Wars universe, even if the sequel trilogy itself went on a very different path to Lucas’ ideas. Maul played a major role in both the climax of Clone Wars and into Star Wars Rebels, and his appearance in Solo as the controlling head of the Shadow Collective crime syndicates lines up with what Lucas is pitching here — albeit Maul died a second death in the current canon.
Interestingly, Lucas would’ve given Maul an apprentice, a familiar face from the expanded universe: Darth Talon, the Twi’lek Sith Lord who played a major role in Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Legacy comic book series. Although Legacy was set hundreds of years after the Star Wars original trilogy, Talon would’ve served as one of the saga’s main antagonists — setting up a parallel between the heroic side’s focus on the tribulations of Leia, as she rebuilt the New Republic. “Darth Maul trained a girl, Darth Talon, who was in the comic books, as his apprentice. She was the new Darth Vader, and most of the action was with her. So these were the two main villains of the trilogy,” Lucas teased. “Maul eventually becomes the godfather of crime in the universe because, as the Empire falls, he takes over. The movies are about how Leia — I mean, who else is going to be the leader? — trying to build the Republic. They still have the apparatus of the Republic but they have to get it under control from the gangsters. That was the main story.”
And yes, Luke would’ve still been trying to rebuild the Order, as we saw in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but there would’ve been a much larger group of Jedi for him to start out with — and maybe would’ve seen himself at least leave that Order in the hands of those Jedi, considering Lucas has also previously stated he too would’ve planed to kill Luke off in his sequels. “It starts out a few years after Return of the Jedi and we establish pretty quickly that there’s this underworld, there are these offshoot stormtroopers who started their own planets, and that Luke is trying to restart the Jedi,” Lucas said. “He puts the word out, so out of 100,000 Jedi, maybe 50 or 100 are left. The Jedi have to grow again from scratch, so Luke has to find two-and-three-year-olds, and train them. It’ll be 20 years before you have a new generation of Jedi.”
But ultimately, the focus would’ve been on Leia’s fight more than Luke’s. “By the end of the trilogy Luke would have rebuilt much of the Jedi, and we would have the renewal of the New Republic, with Leia, Senator Organa, becoming the Supreme Chancellor in charge of everything,” Lucas concluded. “So she ended up being the Chosen One.”
There’s a lot of fascinating ideas in there — and they don’t even include Lucas’ own previous espousing about fate and destiny that he wanted to tackle through the concept of Midichlorians as a kind of possessive aspect of the Cosmic Force, governed by the mysterious Whills as a way to enact their, err, will, upon the galaxy. But for all the fascination there is here — Leia’s focus, Luke rebuilding the Jedi, Maul as a crime lord — you can’t say that these ideas just vanished into the ether when new plans were made for Disney’s vision of Star Wars. Darth Talon aside, all these ideas are not ones entirely dissimilar to what we ultimately got throughout various points of the new Star Wars timeline.
Maul’s criminal activities formed a major backbone of Solo and serve as interesting texture around the time of the Empire’s rise between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Leia’s struggle to avoid the past Republic’s mistakes — as the new government confronts both bureaucratic corruption and fringe far-right elements of the Imperial remnant — mostly played out off-screen in books like Bloodlines and the Aftermath trilogy, and while Luke’s attempts to rebuild the Jedi before tragedy struck have largely been left untold outside of the Rise of Kylo Ren comic, that too played a fundamental part in his story in The Last Jedi.
As fascinating as it is to see what could’ve been for Star Wars’ continuation had Lucas’ plans remained, it’s equally fascinating to see just how much of Lucas and his ideas still permeates through the Star Wars sequel universe we actually got. All these years later, the ideas of Star Wars’ creator still feel vital to the lifeblood of the franchise. Almost like that cosmic, guiding Force.
The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005 is available to order from Taschen now.