It's been 43 years since a galaxy far, far away first came to our theaters, and since then it's taken eight more films and three separate trilogies to finish telling the Skywalker story, never failing to gain new fans with each generation along the way. Now that the saga has officially come to an end (for now), it's safe to say many of these fans felt unsatisfied at specific points through the course of the Star Wars movies.
Because of this, The Direct decided to revisit the franchise and come back with a little twist. Say one were to change a character's words, action, choice, or even a decision from a writer/director. What effect would it have on the film and series moving forward? With infinite choices from nine individual movies, The Direct is here to break down seven "What if" scenarios in the Skywalker saga.
The Last Jedi: What If Rey Took Kylo Ren's Hand?
The exhilarating feeling of Ben Solo and Rey teaming up against Snoke and his Praetorian guards is unmatched in the sequel trilogy. It was a victorious balance of the Force, but then, in an instant, Kylo Ren returned. As he offered his hand to Rey and asked her to join him in the quest for control, there’s a split second where the audience thinks she just might do it. Rey ultimately rejects his proposition, but still admits her desire to accept his hand in The Rise of Skywalker, if only it were Ben’s hand. Naturally, this adjustment would make anyone wonder how the rest of The Last Jedi and the plot of Episode IX would have unfolded…
How This Would Change Star Wars: If Rey took Kylo Ren’s hand in that moment, the final 40 minutes of the film would require some minor rewrites. Kylo would be adamant in destroying the rest of the Resistance, just as he is in the film, because the group represents all the reasons for Rey to turn back to the light. Luke’s sacrifice would still be made for the rebels to survive, but the next episode would change completely. It would probably focus on the heroes finding a way to save Rey and Kylo Ren from the dark path they were pursuing together, and they’re relationship could be examined on a deeper level. After The Force Awakens, many contemplated the notion of Rey turning to the dark side in Episode VIII. Although that was something that never came to fruition, it is certainly a fresh take that many would’ve welcomed - or at least been intrigued by.
Return of the Jedi: What If Han Solo Died?
Harrison Ford has been very public about his argument for Han Solo’s death. The character eventually ate the dust in The Force Awakens, but Ford desired it much sooner. He believed “the best utility of the character would be for him to sacrifice himself to a high ideal…that was at the third occasion of filming the original three.” Solo came very close to death in The Empire Strikes Back and was rescued at the beginning of the next installment. Nonetheless, if time was reversed and George Lucas killed Han Solo where Ford thought it best, how would things have shaken up...
How This Would Change Star Wars: It’s not that Return of the Jedi is lacking emotional weight in any way, but Ford’s point is understandable. Han Solo’s sacrifice could’ve given much-needed gravity to the battle on Endor, not to mention the heartbreaking end it would foster for Han and Leia’s relationship. Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan could’ve potentially exploited that anguish as a crucial turn of the tide for the Rebellion. It goes without saying that the sequel films would require a huge make-over as its most captivating character would cease to exist. Han’s end in Episode VII does feel more appropriate in a larger scope of things, but one shouldn’t be quick to write off Ford’s take because it’s distinctive and could’ve been just as fitting of an end for the beloved role.
The Phantom Menace: What If Darth Plagueis Appeared?
The first mention fans ever hear of Darth Plaguies the Wise was from Chancellor Palpatine in Revenge of the Sith, and never has he been more seducing. Along with Anakin, they learn that Plagueis was an extremely powerful Sith who acquired the ability of manipulating midi-chlorians to create life. In addition, Palpatine asserts that, after Plagueis passed down all the knowledge he possessed to his apprentice (now known to be Palpatine himself), the apprentice killed the Sith master in his sleep. There have only been a few other references in canon of the mysterious character, such as in The Rise of Skywalker and Tarkin novels. In Star Wars Legends, however, James Luceno's Darth Plagueis novel confirms that Plagueis was alive, and killed, during the events of The Phantom Menace. Just imagine if audiences got the chance to see the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise in the first prequel film...
How This Would Change Star Wars: Even though Palpatine is not revealed to have any hidden intentions to the other characters in Episode I, most fans already knew that he was the Emperor from Return of the Jedi and was the "phantom menace" of which the title is referring. Because of this, adding Plagueis into the story may not have been a stretch. It could've added a new layer of depth to Palpatine's wicked and deceptive plan to take over the government, especially if viewers saw him kill his dominant companion and become the true master of evil. Moreover, his presence would provide an ideal opportunity to explore the "Rule of Two," as well as the unnatural potentiality of the dark side, lending to the narratives of the following prequel and sequel films.
The Empire Strikes Back: What If Leia Trained With Luke?
Last December, J.J. Abrams gave fans a long-anticipated first look at Leia Organa/Skywalker training as a Jedi Knight in The Rise of Skywalker. Rae Carson contributed a great deal more in the film’s expanded novel. This was all after author Gary D. Schmidt divulged more of Yoda’s opinion of the Skywalker children in Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View. It’s always been clear the Leia was a decisive, strong-minded young woman who possessed traits similar to that of a Jedi. This counters her brother’s own qualities that were similar to his father’s, and seeing how that turned out for the galaxy, it’s obvious why Yoda felt Leia should be the one instructed to remove the Emperor from power. What if Yoda persisted against Kenobi’s wishes, and they trained the Skywalker’s together…
How This Would Change Star Wars: It was a logical decision on their part not to take away two of the Rebellion’s key fighters in the war against the Empire. On the other hand, it would also make sense to bring both Luke and Leia to Dagobah and teach them the ways of the Force. From an outside perspective, it would increase their chances of overthrowing the Emperor and bringing their father back to the light side. There’s always the possibility that they were unsuccessful, in which case the galaxy would lose their only hopes in fully defeating the Sith, hence why Yoda and Kenobi chose the option they did. Still, it’s a fascinating issue to reflect on since it wouldn’t significantly affect the sequel trilogy’s narrative threads.
The Rise of Skywalker: What If Anakin Replaced Han Solo?
It was hard to imagine Harrison Ford ever coming back to the Star Wars franchise, especially since it was a known fact that he wanted Han Solo to have a heroic, meaningful death in the story. Well, that’s exactly what he got in The Force Awakens. Just when it seemed like the character would only live on through past Star Wars films, J.J. Abrams surprised everyone by giving Han Solo one more moment with his son in The Rise of Skywalker. The scene itself is exquisite and might be the best acting seen in Star Wars. It’s the love radiating off of Han that finally destroys Kylo Ren, which changes the entire direction of the film. But what if it wasn’t Han Solo? Instead of a moment between father and son, what if it was a moment between grandfather and grandson that allowed Anakin Skywalker’s force ghost to make a triumphant return to the Skywalker saga...
How This Would Change Star Wars: In the marketing and promotion for The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm made a clear emphasis on how the movie was wrapping up the complete saga, not just the sequel films. It’s of this writer’s opinion that, while the film has many elements to tie the saga together, they are rarely felt to have a significant effect on the audience. This scene, however, was a perfect opportunity to accomplish the feat, if only they used the force ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Kylo Ren was always trying to finish what Darth Vader started and become the ultimate source of power in the galaxy. What a momentous shift it would’ve been if Darth Vader himself came back to tell Kylo he was wrong thinking there was any victory in the dark side and to finish what he, as Anakin Skywalker, never could. This change wouldn’t necessarily affect the events following, but it would further connect the intertwining stories of each trilogy.
Revenge of the Sith: What If Padme Didn't Die?
One of the most breathtaking scenes in Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars in general, comes with the simultaneous death of Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker, as one dies from despair and the other ascends in the dark side. When Anakin fully embraces his new life as a Sith, and his children are sent out on their divisive paths, one can only wonder how differently the story would’ve played out if their mother had survived. For this article’s sake, let’s pretend Anakin’s turn to malevolence only motivated Padme to bring him back to the good side, for even in her dying breath, she still believed in her husband…
How This Would Change Star Wars: It’s always challenging to discuss hypotheticals in Star Wars because of the irregular way in which the trilogies were released, as made evident here. This “What if” completely changes the landscape of the original trilogy, but that doesn’t mean there’s no story to tell. Here’s a bold statement: Anakin Skywalker would have stayed as Darth Vader even if Padme was alive, at least for some time. Crazy? Maybe, and maybe not. In Revenge of the Sith, Padme urges him to come away with her and leave everything else behind, but he refuses. He thinks she betrayed him just as the Jedi did, and more specifically, just as Obi-Wan did. After his duel, it’s obvious he still cares about her, but is it enough to deny the Emperor and the dark side? As previously stated, sooner or later Anakin would’ve come back to his wife and family, but it wouldn’t be in an instant. It would be a relentless struggle for both characters because they would be fighting on opposite sides of the civil war.
The Last Jedi: What If Palpatine Was Teased at the End?
In the first teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, fans were astonished to learn that Emperor Palpatine was coming back in some form in the film. After watching that film, the return of the great Sith was a bit of a let-down because of the little time spent with the character. His presence feels random and jarring. I’m not saying that it couldn’t work or didn’t make sense, because Rae Carson fleshes it out impeccably in the film’s novelization. There’s one simple change that could’ve made his return feel much more natural: place a simple tease at the end of The Last Jedi…
How This Would Change Star Wars: In The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson surprised everyone by killing off Supreme Leader Snoke at the hands of Kylo Ren. It made sense for Kylo’s character and took the story into uncharted territory. The tease would only need to illustrate some kind of reaction from Palpatine to this incident and imply that Snoke was a clone, or “puppet,” he was controlling. It could be a good, bad, or indifferent response. The point is that there would be a cliffhanger with enough information for audiences to speculate on and feel satisfied with until the next chapter. Even if the following film just lightly touched on the methods of his return, the subtle reference would spare audiences from feeling as rushed into this adventure as they did when watching The Rise of Skywalker.
It's crazy to think about how a single moment can change 40 years worth of stories and timelines. Again, there are hundreds of hypothetical situations in Star Wars that deserve a discussion and analysis, so The Direct wants to hear from you! What do you think of this list? Make sure to answer the poll, and comment down below with your opinion and "What if" ideas!