With the announcement last month of a new Star Wars trilogy beginning with Episode VII in 2015, the minds of fans started racing faster than the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Next to nothing is known about the new movies, but that hasn’t stopped everyone who once owned a Boba Fett lunchbox from wildly speculating about what we could see on our next big-screen journey to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. The most popular questions: Will Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford return? If so, how large will their roles be? And will this new movie give Han Solo the heroic death Ford hoped for but was denied in Return of the Jedi? Star Wars fans, it’s time we take a collective breath. Decades worth of rumors that have swirled around George Lucas’ space opera should tell us that idle speculation usually gets you nowhere. A friend of mine was absolutely convinced after having seen The Empire Strikes Back as a kid that Boba Fett is in fact Luke Skywalker’s father, not Darth Vader. How else could Fett’s shot at Luke on Cloud City have missed its mark at such close range unless Fett deliberately missed. And why did he deliberately miss? Because Luke’s really his son!
Many of these theories say more about us than they do about the films. So before you totally OD on Episode VII speculation, take a look at some of the craziest rumors that have been attached to the Star Wars franchise over the past few decades, and decide for yourself how profitable such theorizing really is.
1. Darth Vader, the Robot—In the immediate aftermath of Star Wars’ 1977 release, chatter focused on what Darth Vader is, as much as who he is. Some fans thought that Vader was actually a robot, citing how he’s completely concealed in armor and how his heavy-footed gait has a metallic clank. Of course, why they thought that a robot would need to breathe is a bit of a headscratcher. And they obviously thought Obi-Wan Kenobi was a liar when he said that Darth Vader was a pupil of his, unless they really think he’d train, rather than just program, a droid. Scratch that, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a liar.
2. Mick Jagger Would Compose The Empire Strikes Back’s Score—This doozy came from an October 1979 issue of Starlog, a now semi-legendary sci-fi zine that’s long since bitten the dust. (And unfortunately is not archived online.) Apparently, a rumor started that John Williams, author of Star Wars’ soaring fanfare of a score, would be replaced with the Rolling Stones lead singer. “Play With Fire” could have made for a killer flashback, though, during which we see Darth Vader’s lava-induced injuries.
3. Han Solo Was Marked for Death—Everyone seemed to think that the spice smuggler was going to bite it, possibly in The Empire Strikes Back. A bunch of different theories spelled out exactly how he would die, though the craziest has to be one in which Han would fight a lightsaber duel—despite not being known to wield a lightsaber—against Darth Vader! Somehow in the course of the duel their respective life-force energies would fuse and they’d become one being, meaning that Luke Skywalker, in trying to defeat Vader, would also have to kill his best friend!
Even Darth Vader performer David Prowse suggested to Starlog in June 1979 that Han would die in a battle with the then-new villain Boba Fett. The surprisingly loose-lipped former wrestler also said that there would be twelve Star Wars movies, and that he would appear as Vader in the prequel installments Episodes II and III. The latter point didn’t happen, obviously, but Prowse wasn’t all wrong. This is something that could only have been kept quiet in the pre-Internet Era, but Prowse actually spoiled the secret of Luke Skywalker’s paternity to a fanzine in April 1978, the quotes from which were published later that summer in The San Francisco Examiner. Yes, he said that Darth Vader is Luke’s father a full two years before The Empire Strikes Back was released, and I quote: “In the film, Alec Guinness goes to great lengths to explain to poor Luke how his father had been killed by Darth Vader. Luke’s father was killed by Darth Vader, right? And how Darth Vader turned to evil, etc., etc. His father was good and all this sort of thing. In the next film, there is going to be a confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader and they then discover that Darth Vader never killed his father, that Darth Vader IS his father. So son can’t kill father, and father can’t kill son—so Darth Vader lives until the next sequel.”
4. Empire or Jedi Would Feature Time Travel—This seems like the musings of some overzealous Star Trek fans for what they’d like to see in Star Wars, but a theory reported by Starlog’s February 1980 issue suggested that the Millennium Falcon would pass through a time warp, sending Luke, Han, and Chewbacca into the era of the Clone Wars. During that time they’d up fighting alongside Luke’s father and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Just think for a moment how awesome a Han Solo/General Grievous showdown would be. Or not.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio as Anakin Skywalker—In 1999, the world’s most beloved movie franchise was about to get relaunched with the prequels. So why shouldn’t Lucasfilm tap the world’s biggest heartthrob, Leonardo DiCaprio, coming right off Titanic mania, as the adolescent Anakin Skywalker for Episode II? Fans everywhere thought he was the most likely choice, but the rumor that George Lucas was considering him for the role wasn't substantiated at the time beyond reports that the actor had visited Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, CA for a private screening of The Phantom Menace. However, this rumor turned out to be true. In 2010, while promoting Inception, DiCaprio finally went on the record to Shortlist about how he was approached for the role. "I did have a meeting with George Lucas about [Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels] as well, yes." he said. “Just didn't feel ready to take that dive. At that point." Other actors reportedly considered at the time were James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Eric Christian Olsen, Erik von Detten, Ryan Phillippe, and Chris Klein. What could have been!
6. The Prequels Would Show a More Primitive Star Wars Galaxy—Leading up to the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, many fans thought that the prequels would show a less technologically sophisticated Galaxy Far, Far Away. After all, Episode I was set 33 years before the events of the original Star Wars. So the technology on display should appear regressive, right? Wrong! The underlying technological premise of Star Wars is that there isn’t much further a civilization can evolve once faster-than-light space travel has been invented. Therefore most of the Star Wars galaxy has had the level of tech you see in the original trilogy for thousands of years. That hasn’t stopped fans from griping about it, though.
7. The Obi-Wan/Anakin/Padmé Love Triangle—Also known as “The Theory in Which Obi-Wan is an Even Bigger Liar than Anyone Thought and is Actually Luke’s Father.” For years fans had speculated that the aged Jedi Master was more than just a father figure to Luke. But when the prequels were ramping up in earnest, it seemed like the new films might lend credence to the theory. For one, Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala was a mature adolescent in The Phantom Menace, while Jake Lloyd’s Anakin Skywalker was just a snotty ten-year-old who says stuff like “Are you an angel?” and “I’m a person!” Why wouldn’t Naboo’s Queen prefer Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan instead? Actually, this is a theory that is slightly acknowledged in Revenge of the Sith, when Hayden Christensen’s Anakin, brimming with accusatory rage, does seem to suggest when he says to his wife “You’re with him!” that Padmé may be having an affair with his old Master. But sorry, fans. Until Maury Povich says otherwise, Anakin is definitely the father.
So you see that rumormongering is usually not that fruitful an activity. Not that we’re discouraging your theories about the new trilogy! Just understand that they are likely to be proven totally wrong, and not just from a certain point of view.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Lucasfilm]