Ever since mid-2012, one of my most popular–and passionate–articles on this site is my post entitled “My Top 10 Changes To The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.” And since then, I’ve gotten a few questions about doing a follow-up post for the original Star Wars trilogy.
Well, truth be told, there’s little I’d really change about those films. They captured a spirit of adventure and myth that has since entranced generations of moviegoers. But out of the three original films, the last one–Return of the Jedi–has a few glaring issues that I would like to correct. Not to mention a certain nitpick about the re-release of Episode IV: A New Hope.
So here are my humble suggestions for how to fix the Original Trilogy.
5. Swap Out the Ewoks for Wookiees
My Issue: By far, the biggest and loudest complaint about Return of the Jedi has to be the Ewoks. Those sickeningly cute teddy bear warriors who cause the film’s tone to shift dramatically toward “kid-friendly,” and whose role in helping defeat the Empire is less inspiring and more comical. Everyone saw it as blatant merchandising and a weak finish for an otherwise epic saga.
My Suggestion: Go with Lucas’s original premise and use Wookiees. While Lucas says he didn’t go with Wookiees because he wanted a more primitive race, I still think this could have worked. The movies established Chewbacca as being a technical prodigy, but what if these Wookiees are a less developed offshoot? What if Chewbacca is now put in the role of convincing his brethren to not hurt his human friends and instead join them in the fight against the Empire? It’d be a fantastic development for Chewbacca’s character and it’d make for one memorable battle sequence of proud Wookiees using clever traps and brute strength to tear the Imperials apart.
4. Give Boba Fett a More Compelling End
My Issue: I will confess to having always been a fanboy when it came to Boba Fett. I mean, for a mostly silent mercenary, he has so much presence onscreen. He’s proven to be very sharp and quick to act, both during the climax of Empire and the palace sequence in Jedi. But when it comes to his big showdown with Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi, all we get is a few parting shots and then Han accidentally sends him flying straight into the Sarlacc’s mouth.
My Suggestion: Fett is a step above the rest of Jabba’s minions, whom Luke has no problem cutting down in his rescue mission. Instead of flying out to meet Luke in the open, he waits for him on the sail barge deck. What follows is a brutal showdown of a fully-trained Jedi Knight and a cunning mercenary. It’d also be more significant if Luke took damage to his prosthetic hand from one of Fett’s shots rather than from some nameless thug. While I must confess that I have no idea how I’d actually end their fight (maybe a “Force kick” into the Sarlacc?), I feel it could fit into the rest of the action and give Fett a more dignified ending.
3. Han Shot First
My Issue: In the original theatrical release of Star Wars, the confrontation between Han Solo and the bounty hunter Greedo in the cantina was an iconic introduction. While Greedo’s threatening his life, Han coolly readies his blaster and shoots him dead before he can deliver on the bounty. Sadly, Lucas decided to re-edit this scene in later releases of the film, so that Greedo shoots first–and misses at point blank range–just so Han can kill him in “self-defense.”
My Suggestion: This is a less of a change and more of a restoration. Han may be on the side of the Good Guys, but he’s not a good guy when he first meet him. He’s cocky, a “shoot first, worry about consequences later” kind of guy. Which jives with the rest of his performance in the film, from infiltrating the Death Star to rescuing Luke during the trench run. It’s also the foundation for his character development, since he learns to care more about doing the right thing over looking out for himself.
2. Leia Shows Hints of Being a Jedi in Her Own Right
My Issue: At the end of Empire Strikes Back, we see that Leia is able to hear Luke’s call through some unexplained telepathic link. Then we learn in the next film that she’s actually Luke’s sister, separated by birth and in danger of corruption if Vader ever recaptures her. But after helping rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt, Leia doesn’t have much of a role in the film. She’s more of a prize that Han and Luke both have to protect, even if she does have the greatest reply to Han’s “I love you” during the fight on Endor.
My Suggestion: If Leia is Luke’s sister, then that means she’s inherited the same Force-sensitivity as him. It would be nice to see Leia unknowingly tap into her Jedi heritage, with only Luke recognizing it. Imagine hearing the famous “Binary Sunset” theme as she finds the superhuman strength to strangle and escape Jabba the Hutt. Imagine Leia unwittingly using Jedi powers of persuasion to help Chewbacca convince his Wookiee brethren on Endor to join their cause. It would be a return of the heroine that we saw in the first two films, and a redemption of the heroine we were promised with her mother in the prequels.
1. Show the Jedi of Old Passing the Torch to the New Generation
My Issue: Much like the Ewoks, the finale of Episode VI is a little too Disney for my taste. While we get the brilliant scene of Luke creating a funeral pyre for his father, we don’t see much about the main characters apart from a bunch of smiles at an Ewok festival and a knowing smile from the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and a redeemed Anakin Skywalker.
My Suggestion: As nice as it is to see all the cast members reunited for a shiny happy ending, I propose a quiet alternative. Luke takes his newfound sister Leia aside, where the ghosts of his mentors and their father emerge. Imagine the gratitude that Obi-Wan expresses on behalf of his peers as they look out at what the Skywalker children accomplished. This would be the perfect moment to pass the torch, to charge Luke and Leia with restoring both the Republic and the Jedi Knights.
In other words, something that many fans are hoping to see take place in the upcoming Star Wars sequel trilogy.
If my readers have their own ideas of what they’d want to have seen or disagree with some of my ideas, please feel free to share your “certain point of view” in the comments section below.
Fittingly, this is my last post for 2013. I wish all my readers an early Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. See you next year!