George Lucas C-3PO

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is inspired by George Lucas‘ creations, but it is not itself a George Lucas creation. Lucas has stressed that he has “no idea what they’re doing,” and expressed his eagerness to “enjoy it like anybody else.”

But there was a time before the Lucasfilm sale when Lucas was developing his own Episode VII, going as far as to approach Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer, and Mark Hamill about reprising their roles. Now a new report sheds some light on what the George Lucas Episode VII would have been — and why it didn’t go forward at Disney. Get the juicy details after the jump. 

In their Star Wars cover story, Vanity Fair (via The Atlantic) reveals Lucas had “sketched out ideas for episodes VII, VIII, and IX” before the Disney acquisition. In fact, as we previously heard, Lucas’ original plan was to release Episode VII before that sale. But he dropped those plans to focus on raising his child, and after Disney bought Lucasfilm, it scrapped Lucas’ plans, too. Handy explains why:

[Abrams] said Lucas’s treatment had centered on very young characters—teenagers, Lucasfilm told me—which might have struck Disney executives as veering too close for comfort to The Phantom Menace and its 9-year-old Anakin Skywalker and 13-year-old Queen Amidala. “We’ve made some departures” from Lucas’s ideas, Kennedy conceded, but only in “exactly the way you would in any development process.”

It’s understandable that Disney wanted to steer away from the much-criticized prequels, but were the ages of the characters really the problem there? It’s certainly possible to craft a compelling narrative around a young lead; The Phantom Menace just wasn’t it.

In any case, we’re not complaining. There’s something thrilling about the thought of the beloved franchise being handed over to an entirely new team of filmmakers. And at least Disney’s learned a few other genuinely valuable lessons from the failure of the prequels. They’re emphasizing practical effects over CG ones, and if Jar Jar Binks appears it’ll (likely) only be as a skeleton in a desert.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18.

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