Balladeer’s Blog is all about responding to reader questions and requests. Some of you have mentioned that you’d like to see me write about what revisions I’d have made to the Star Wars sequels in the same way I write about revisions I’d have made to old Killraven stories or how I’d have handled the unfinished Harry Flashman novels.
I have only ever been a casual (at most) Star Wars fan so it’s possible that lets me approach the subject with a certain detachment that many others lack. I have no favorite characters and I’m not really invested in the story or its universe outside of the original lightning-in-a-bottle 1977 film.
My take is that the sequel trilogy is too much of a mess and has nothing worth salvaging. However, since there is more and more talk about recasting the major roles like Luke, Han and Leia for a potential reboot or tv series I figured THAT’S what I’d look at.
The original 1977 Star Wars is about as close to perfection as you can get in terms of a movie succeeding at what it was intended to be: in this case a fun, uncomplicated valentine to the days of simpler storytelling as a nice antidote to the glut of self-consciously “deep” movies by that point in the 70s.
There’s nothing wrong with deep or introspective movies, of course, but by 1977 it seems that audiences were VERY hungry for a movie that didn’t wallow in unsolvable problems and was instead sheer feel-good spectacle. (I often speculate that if the Robert Shaw film Swashbuckler had come out after Star Wars instead of before it, it might have been received much more enthusiastically.)
My own take on potentially casting a new Luke, Han & Leia and starting over would be that the original Star Wars should remain untouched. Begin the reboot AFTER that film but eliminate the overrated twist in which Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s father and Leia turns out to be his sister.
The original trilogy was, in my view, sacrificed on the altar of that one big “Won’t THAT surprise everybody?” moment. Never mind that it made Obi Wan a liar. (“From a certain point of view” my ass!) Never mind that having Leia be Luke’s sister made him seem creepy for perving on his sibling.
And if you can look at the 1977 film in a vacuum and tell me it’s not clear that Luke will end up with Princess Leia and that Han will probably end up with some sloe-eyed, roguish hot babe some day then I think you’re fooling yourself. It would be like saying “Louie and Rick probably did not go through with fighting the Nazis after Casablanca, but just became mercenaries hiring themselves out to both sides.”
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – Since I think things went wrong beginning with the second film in the series I’ll start there with my revisions. And yes, I know a lot of people consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the best of the original three films but I disagree. It may be a good film on its own terms but to me the tone makes it a poor followup to the original Star Wars.
REVISIONS: I’d have kept the opening assault on Hoth and the need for the rebels to evacuate. However, instead of having Han Solo need to save Luke’s life after he gets decked by the snow-creature I’d have had Luke show up to save both Han and Chewbacca from such a beast.
Not only would this let Luke say “I finally got to pay you back for saving me in the Battle of Yavin!” but it would also help show how Luke has matured and grown more capable in the time since the attack on the Death Star.
Hell, I’d even have Han joke with Luke about how unaffected he seems by the cold, thanks to his Jedi “meditations” and such. Han might go too far and, in jest, refer to Luke as “Obi Wan Skywalker”, prompting Luke to get a little short with Han over the glib misuse of such a grand title. Naturally, he’d apologize for losing his cool and the two friends would be back to joshing around.
Luke would accompany the rescued Han and Chewie back to the base, where Leia would greet them. She would be glad Han and Chewbacca were okay but clearly she’d be more interested in following up a conversation with Luke. The young man would evasively come up with a reason why he can’t dine with her that night. (Even with the threat of the upcoming assault by the Empire hanging over them, people DO still need to eat.)
And Rank Has Its Privileges so Luke and Leia may well have made a habit out of quiet meals together over the months since Yavin. Luke’s abrupt, awkward disentanglement from dining with Leia in her quarters would puzzle both her and Han. Leia would point out how – in recent days – Luke always makes excuses for spending less and less time with her.
Han, ever on the make, would convince Leia to have dinner with HIM, only to be peeved when Chewie grunts and such, prompting Leia to slyly say “Of COURSE you’re welcome to join us, Chewbacca.” This could set up a joking response from the annoyed Han.
Inside Luke’s quarters we would learn just why he has been distancing himself from Leia recently: First Obi Wan’s voice would be heard and then we would see his Force Ghost. Dialogue would make it clear he has recently begun secretly appearing to Luke in order to continue his Jedi training.
Since Leia and the others would not be able to see or hear Obi Wan they have been conducting their training sessions in private. Obi Wan might lightly reproach Luke for the little white lies he keeps telling Leia about why he is spending less time with her.
Flustered, Luke might conjure up a contorted justification for why it’s not really a lie he just told Leia to put her off. Depending on how meta you want to get with the humor in such a reboot you could even have Luke say to Obi Wan “So what I told her was the truth … from a certain point of view.”
Anyway, after a scene with Darth Vader and the approaching Imperials, Kenobi would wrap up his latest training bit with Luke and say he has advanced enough that he needs to be passed on to a Jedi Master. Who is still ALIVE, especially.
We all know the bit from here – “Dagobah System, blah blah blah place yourself under the tutelage of Master Yoda, blah blah blah.” Luke sets off to tell Leia that, after the impending battle, if he is still alive, he’ll need to go to the Dagobah System because his Jedi “meditations” lately have alerted him to the presence there of an old Jedi Master.
Since, for some strange reason, audiences seemed to like the “who will Leia end up with – Luke or Han” elements of The Empire Strikes Back, as Luke approaches Leia’s quarters, he would see Han just leaving. In true Soap Opera fashion, Luke would have missed Chewbacca’s departure mere seconds before Han left.
Believing that Leia may be turning her affections toward Han because of his own recent emotional distance would force the jealous young man to be surly when he tells Leia about leaving. This would add to her confusion and that confusion would turn to anger when Luke pressures her not to tell anyone why he left.
To speed things up, since people love the “split into two groups” part of TESB I would preserve that but the groupings would be different:
*** In the chaos of the battle, before Han could board the Milennium Falcon to leave it would seem like he and Chewbacca were outfought and cornered by a bunch of Storm Troopers after a great action set piece with Han & Chewie kicking serious butt. Suddenly, one of the Storm Troopers would turn on their fellows and kill them all before using some sort of knockout gas or such on Han and Chewbacca.
Leia, in all the confusion, would see her assigned pilot escorts get killed, necessitating Luke flying her off of Hoth with HIM instead. As the pair flee with R2D2 in tow, Luke would have to evade Darth Vader’s command ship which would be pursuing him tightly because he senses Princess Leia’s presence on the smaller craft AND senses that the pilot is the same Force Sensitive pilot named Luke Skywalker whom he encountered during the Battle of Yavin.
Meanwhile, on board the Millenium Falcon, Han and Chewbacca would wake up to realize they are bound and helpless and that their ship has been hijacked by the Storm Trooper who killed his fellows. It would turn out that Storm Trooper was a fake, slipping in with the attacking Imperial forces in order to nab their REAL target – Han Solo and Chewbacca.
The fake Storm Trooper has, while Han and Chewie were unconscious, slipped into Mandalorian Armor and now reveals that they are bringing the pair in alive for Jabba the Hutt. Their abductor is, of course, BOBA FETT. He shanghaied C3PO along for the ride and forced the cowardly droid to “talk to” the Millenium Falcon’s systems since the craft requires more than one person to operate it.
Throughout the rest of the movie, we would learn that Boba Fett is a beautiful woman when she removes her helmet. Or maybe Han forces her to remove the helmet after he and Chewbacca manage to wrest back control of the Falcon.
Either way, Boba Fett would be the woman with whom Han has a simultaneous flirting and “battle of the sexes” relationship similar to him and Leia in TESB. But not really a deep “romance” since that’s just too somber for a smuggler and a bounty hunter. They’d eventually have sex, just not deep romantic talk. That would be saved for Luke and Leia.
(I think it would have been great if this had been how The Empire Strikes Back really played out. I’d take Caroline Munro as Boba Fett. Think of it! Han Solo and Stella Starr! A Space Opera power couple!)
NOTE: If there is sufficient traffic for this blog post I will continue from here. I don’t want to spend too much time on it if people are NOT interested. For instance, my Killraven and Flashman posts get a LOT of attention but my Hombre (Spanish post-apocalypse hero) post did not, so I stopped my Hombre reviews after just one.