I love the fact that Lucas still hasn't been crystal clear about the whole Darth Sidious/Palpatine issue. Nor has he made it evident how such a powerful Sith master could deal face-to-face with the greatest Jedi of the day without being detected. I think there are still twists to come here …
There are spoilers in that article about the upcoming Star Wars film: Attack of the Clones so reader beware. And if the spoilers are true, then expect a movie as good as The Empire Strikes Back (which I consider to be the high point of the original trilogy).
Now, George Lucas is paying for all this, so he gets to call the shots, but that still hasn't stopped my friend Hoade and I from playing arm chair quarterbacks and spending days (much to the dismay of his Significant Other) going over what George should have done.
And guess what? You are now the latest to be subjected to these mad ramblings. No spoilers here—just a bunch of über fans telling George how it should have gone down.
Our divergent history starts with the last act of The Empire Strikes Back. whining boy Luke rushes off to save his friends and as he leaves, Yoda and the ghostly figure of Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi talk amongst themselves. Yoda makes mention of a mysterious “other one” that can restore the Jedi order should Luke fall to the Dark Side.
Next, cut to the climatic scene when Darth Vader cuts off Luke's hand and gives the revelation of 1980: “Luke, I am your father!” To which Luke really starts whining and in a fit of disbelief jumps off the platform and plummets to the bowels of Cloud City to the shock of the entire Star Wars fan base.
And we believed it! That's the amazing part.
Here's Darth Vader. The first time we see him in Star Wars he walks over, picks up one of the Rebel Scum™ and chokes him to death. Next scene, he's choking an officer on his own side (it's not made clear if it's a superior officer or one of equal rank, but still, that is not a nice thing to do, even if Lord Vader finds his lack of faith … disturbing). He kills Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi (although this is open to interpretation). You do not cross this guy. Throughout The Empire Strikes Back he's promoting Captains as fast as he's killing them for failure of duty. He has a direct line to the Emperor! You do not want to work for this guy either.
He also wears black. In our Western culture this, along with everything else he's done, makes him The Bad Guy. They lie. They cheat. They play underhanded.
So why would we believe him when he says “Luke, I am your father!”? What? You mean Ol' Ben lied? Hold on a second … the supposed Good Guy lies, and the supposed Bad Guy tells the truth?
It is with this that Hoade and I start our divergent histories with George “Forgive me Howard the Duck!” Lucas.
The first two movies stay the same. Well, almost. Strike the “Star Wars: A New Hope” Special Edition. It didn't happen. Nope. Not at all. Han Solo is a cynical bastard that will shoot first to save his own skin (come on, Greedo missing from point blank?). Okay, so the first two movies stay the same.
The Return of the Jedi is something completely different. And I'm not even sure if all of this can be done in a single film—it'll have to be some very tight plotting for sure.
Darth Vader is lying. Of course, he's The Bad Guy. But Luke is conflicted over this—is Darth Vader really his father? Knowledge and revenge seeking, he goes after Darth Vader and we get that wonderful fight scene (which, really, was the only good part of “Return of the Jedi”) with the Emperor edging him on. Luke (like it was prophesied in one of the films) does kill the Emperor and in doing so, falls to the Dark Side. Circle complete [S/X—Emperor laughing].
Meanwhile, this mysterious other mentioned towards the end of “The Empire Strikes Back?” Who better than Han “Give me a blaster over this Force mumbo-jumbo” Solo? Who would of thunk it? The cynic turns believer (even if it might take a bit of the Jedi Mind Trick™ to help him along) and puts an end to the rather short rule of Darth Vader and Kid in the last reel (and for pity's sake, there are no Ewoks).
Okay, so there the slight problem of Han being frozen and in the hands of Jabba the Hutt, but we can leave it to Lando and Chewbacca to get him back (no, I don't believe that Leia would be allowed to go on that mission—she's just too important for the Rebellion for that (although she did look quite nice in that slave outfit, but still, that's no excuse) and Luke is busy hunting down and falling to the Dark Side to help). Minor plot point but still, it has to be worked out.
Okay, maybe it's not as upbeat as it could have been, but Campbellian heros aren't perfect and they do die eventually so it would still fit the mold. And it makes for a more dramatic story without Ewoks.