12 Live-Action Star Wars Projects That Never Happened (But Should Have)

The "Star Wars" galaxy is a big place — and it's always getting bigger. Ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm back in October 2012, the company has let loose a flood of new "Star Wars" movies, shows, novels, comics, and video games. The results, as literally anybody on the Internet will tell you, have been somewhat mixed. On the one hand, we've enjoyed all-time great stories such as "Andor," "The Last Jedi" (deal with it), and "Star Wars: Visions." On the other, we've been saddled with "The Rise of Skywalker" and "The Book of Boba Fett." The phrase "ups and downs" doesn't even begin to cut it.

The franchise won't be letting up any time soon, either. Over the next few years, Lucasfilm is set to produce a new slate of movies from James Mangold, Dave Filoni, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. They'll also be making a fresh push on the video game front, led by "Star Wars Jedi: Survivor," "Star Wars Eclipse," and a "Knights of the Old Republic" remake. And that's to say nothing of the near-infinite array of upcoming shows due for release, such as "Ahsoka," "Skeleton Crew," "The Acolyte,"  and more.

Considering the rich potential of George Lucas' beloved universe, it may come as no surprise to learn that a significant number of projects never reach the finish line; some, in fact, barely make it past the starting line. Let's pour out a glass of blue milk, then, for the live-action "Star Wars" that will never come to pass ... even though they really should have.

Star Wars: Underworld

One of the most mysterious of the ill-fated "Star Wars" projects originated long before Disney laid claim to the franchise. Back in 2005, a few months before the release of "Revenge of the Sith," George Lucas revealed at "Star Wars" Celebration III that he was working on a new TV series set in the galaxy far, far away. "We'll be trying to put that together in the next year," he told the crowd.

Various figures involved in the development of the series have offered a handful of tidbits in the years since. The show, titled "Star Wars: Underworld," was to take place in Coruscant's lower levels at the height of the Empire's reign. It would follow mostly new characters, although "Outlander" and "Battlestar Galactica" scribe Ronald D. Moore, who was brought in to help write "Underworld," told Inverse in 2017 that Darth Vader would have made at least one appearance. Lucas, meanwhile, once claimed that he had an impressive 40 episodes of "Underworld" mapped out. So what went wrong?

Well, according to Moore, Lucas insisted that he "think big" on his scripts; budget, he said, was "no object." This, though, would be the show's downfall. In the end, the prohibitive cost of a "Star Wars" TV series — which, week after week, required an entire universe to be built from the ground up — killed the show's prospects. All that remains today is some tantalizing test footage and a few characters and designs that were redistributed to other projects, including "Solo," "The Clone Wars," and "The Book of Boba Fett." It's a real shame, too, as "Underworld" represents one of the last gasps of the Lucas era. Who knows what new faces, worlds, or ideas the series might have brought to the franchise?

George Lucas' sequel trilogy

George Lucas had been planning a "Star Wars" sequel trilogy of some kind since at least 1976, when, according to Mark Hamill, the Skywalker saga was set to span a staggering four trilogies. Lucas' plans changed over the years, but he finally began working on three new "Star Wars" movies prior to Disney's acquisition in 2012, with the intention of offering his outlines to the House of Mouse. Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy decided to take a different direction with their own trilogy – a decision Iger later regretted – but we still have a notion as to how Lucas' sequels might have looked.

According to "The Star Wars Archives: 1999-2005," (via Polygon), Lucas intended the final three movies to focus on Princess Leia, as she struggles to rebuild the Republic in the wake of the Galactic Civil War. Lucas has separately said that the sequels would also have revolved around the Skywalker grandchildren, while the villain was to be none other than Darth Maul, who, Lucas says, "eventually becomes the godfather of crime in the universe." In a companion book to the AMC series "James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction," Lucas also suggests that his final episodes would have explored a "microbiotic world" inhabited by the Whills, infinitesimally small creatures who "feed off the Force" and control the universe.

This is all bold stuff, for sure, but it's impossible to say whether Lucas' sequel trilogy might have turned out any better or worse than Disney's. One thing we can say, though, is that it would have been fascinating to see the franchise brought full circle by its creator. As Lucas himself said, "At least the whole story from beginning to end would be told."

Michael Arndt's The Force Awakens

In 2012, it was reported that "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Hunger Games: Catching Fire" writer Michael Arndt had been hired to pen a 40- to 50-page treatment for "Star Wars: Episode VII." A year later, Arndt stepped away from the project, and Lawrence Kasdan was brought in to complete the script.

Insiders told The Hollywood Reporter at the time that Arndt quit due to fundamental creative differences over which characters should lead the new "Star Wars" movie. Apparently, Arndt wanted to focus on the children of Luke, Han, and Leia, while director J.J. Abrams wanted the original trilogy heroes to play key roles in the story. Abrams won, Arndt lost; Han took center stage in "The Force Awakens," and the presence of Luke and Leia, if less visible, is nevertheless unmistakable. Arndt believed he had good reason to fight for this, too. In a 2015 Q&A (via EW), he revealed that he struggled with his early attempts to include Luke Skywalker in the script. "It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over," he said. "Suddenly you didn't care about your main character anymore because, 'Oh f***, Luke Skywalker's here. I want to see what he's going to do."

As an avowed fan of Luke Skywalker's portrayal in "The Last Jedi," I can't argue that more Luke is necessarily a bad thing. That said, the sequels' obsession with the original trilogy's legacy caused a great deal of trouble down the line — most notably with "The Rise of Skywalker." You can't help but wonder how the saga may have turned out if "The Force Awakens" had placed more attention on the series' future, rather than lingering on its past.

Boba Fett: A Star Wars Story

In 2021, Disney released "The Book of Boba Fett," a seven-part Disney+ series following the further adventures of the galaxy's most dangerous bounty hunter. Sadly, the show was dull, meandering, and prone to bouts of pretending it was "The Mandalorian" Season 2.5. Years earlier, however, Disney's attempt to bring Boba to the big screen could have fared much better ... or much worse.

In 2014, it was reported that "Chronicle" director Josh Trank had joined the franchise as part of the same "Star Wars Story" anthology series that produced "Rogue One" and "Solo." In 2015 — notably, just a couple of months before the release of his atrocious "Fantastic Four" reboot, which had reportedly long been plagued by Trank's troubling on-set behavior – the director stepped away; it quickly became clear that Lucasfilm had fired him. Trank, who has mostly stayed silent on the exact details of his "Star Wars" movie, eventually teased that it would have been inspired by Clint Eastwood westerns such as 1992's "Unforgiven" and the films of Sergio Leone.

Let's be honest. Considering his myriad personal issues and the unrelenting horrors of "Fantastic Four," it's entirely possible that Trank's Boba Fett movie would have been a disaster. "The Book of Boba Fett" wasn't exactly a classic either, however, and condensing Boba's story into a one-off two-hour movie certainly couldn't have hurt. If nothing else, it would have ended sooner.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller's Solo

Lucasfilm's decision to hire "Jump Street" and "LEGO Movie" directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller for a then-untitled Han Solo origin movie prompted both bemusement and excitement back in 2015. Two years later, however, halfway through production of "Solo: A Star Wars Story," Lord and Miller were suddenly fired. Kathleen Kennedy cited "different creative visions" as the reason for their departure and, soon after, hired Ron Howard to take the movie over the finish line.

That year, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to insiders who claimed that Lord and Miller's comedic, improv-heavy directing style jarred with writer Lawrence Kasdan's preference for tight scripting. They also clashed over how to handle Han himself, with a source telling the outlet, "People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He's sarcastic and selfish." A separate source told Variety that Lord and Miller "wanted it to be fresh, new, emotional, surprising, and unique [...] but at every turn, when they went to take a risk, it was met with a no." The same article indicates that 85% of the original picture was reshot; Ron Howard's work comprises 70% of the finished film.

Howard ended up lending a steady hand to a difficult shoot, but the sad truth is that "Solo" itself is mostly forgettable. Indeed, it often feels like there's a much better film lurking somewhere below the surface — and I'd wager good money that this is Lord and Miller's influence struggling to break through. In retrospect, Lucasfilm ought to have let them take those risks.

The Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy

"Obi-Wan Kenobi" marked a thoroughly decent entry in the "Star Wars" canon. Led by a captivating performance by Ewan McGregor, the 2022 Disney+ series acted as a satisfying coda to "Revenge of the Sith" and a prequel-of-sorts to "A New Hope." It wasn't exactly necessary, and it most definitely was not perfect, but it left many fans wanting more regardless. And funnily enough, that's exactly what we were supposed to get.

In June 2022, "Obi-Wan Kenobi" writer Stuart Beattie revealed to The Direct that he had originally been hired to write a trilogy of "Obi-Wan" movies. "So when I pitched my Obi-Wan story to Lucasfilm," he told the outlet, "I said, 'There's actually three stories here. Because there's three different evolutions that the character has to make in order to go from Obi-Wan to Ben.'" Unfortunately, the poor box office reception suffered by "Solo" shook up Lucasfilm's plans, and the "Obi-Wan" trilogy was turned into a streaming series. Joby Harold, who joined the show as head writer, took the screenplay for Beattie's first movie and adapted it for the small screen, essentially turning two hours into six.

Beattie never started work on the second or third installments in his trilogy, and it remains to be seen whether "Obi-Wan Kenobi" will return for another season. But there can be no doubt that there's more of Obi-Wan's tale to tell — heck, McGregor himself is certainly up for it – and if not for the failure of "Solo", it may just have been told.

Star Wars: Duel of the Fates

By now, you'll know how the story goes: director joins "Star Wars"; something bad happens; director leaves "Star Wars." Between 2015 and 2017, the director in question was Colin Trevorrow, who was set to helm "Star Wars: Episode IX" before Lucasfilm unceremoniously fired him after reports of his "difficult" behavior emerged from the "Jurassic World" and "The Book of Henry" sets. Here's something we don't have from Lucasfilm's other victims, though: the full leaked screenplay of Trevorrow's "Star Wars" movie.

Titled "Star Wars: Duel of the Fates," Trevorrow's script finds the First Order, led by Chancellor Hux, in control of the entire galaxy, spurring the surviving members of the Resistance to embark on a mission to find a secret beacon located in the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Along the way, Kylo Ren trains under Emperor Palpatine's old master, Rey is blinded in a lightsaber duel, Finn leads a stormtrooper uprising, Luke Skywalker haunts his nephew, and Hux commits literal seppuku. The "Duel of the Fates" concept art, which came to light alongside the screenplay, only makes it look even crazier.

I know I'm not alone in absolutely despising "The Rise of Skywalker." I hated the incoherent plot, I hated the pointless twists, I hated the death fake-outs. I hated what it did to Rose, Finn, Luke, Kylo Ren, and Poe. It was not a good film. "Duel of the Fates" is rife with issues too, but at least it tries to do something meaningful, rather than just languishing in empty nostalgia for two and a half hours. Give me glorious nonsense over this abomination any day.

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David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' project

In 2018, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were on top of the world. They were mere months away from the final season of "Game of Thrones," the absurdly successful fantasy series that had catapulted them to superstardom. At the same time, they were planning a franchise leap: In February of that year, Lucasfilm hired Benioff and Weiss to write and produce a trilogy of "Star Wars" movies. Can you guess what happened next?

Yes, as sure as eggs are eggs, Benioff and Weiss were kicked off the project — only a year later, too. The duo claimed that their work on "Star Wars" conflicted with a $250 million Netflix deal they had just signed, and sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Kathleen Kennedy had been irked by their decision to take on two major jobs at once. It didn't help that the new deal obliged them to remain on the sets of their Netflix productions, essentially severing them from any potential "Star Wars" project. Practically nothing is known about what Benioff and Weiss were planning at Lucasfilm, although we do know they visited George Lucas in Italy for "research."

This one could have gone in any direction. Benioff and Weiss' final season of "Game of Thrones" was controversial to say the least (and absolutely goddamn woeful to say the most), meaning this loss is less painful than that of, say, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Still, Lucas' involvement is fascinating, no matter how slight it may have been, and reports that the trilogy would have taken place post-"Rise of Skywalker" should pique at least some interest. Here's hoping Lucasfilm finds more reliable stewards for this crucial era in the franchise's narrative.

Kevin Feige's project

Kevin Feige can easily be counted among the most successful producers in the history of cinema. Whatever you might think of the MCU, there's no denying that his ability to oversee an expansive shared universe is unparalleled — so maybe it's no surprise that, in 2019, he was invited to develop a standalone movie in the "Star Wars" franchise.

Before long, "Rick and Morty" and "Loki" screenwriter Michael Waldron was brought on board as the project's writer, and, in 2022, Waldron told Den of Geek that the picture was "coming along." "It's fun to get to do something that feels fresh and original," he said, "and I'm excited to work with Kevin again, and with the team at Lucasfilm. And I love Star Wars. So it's a blast." He also admitted that he had no idea when the movie would actually be set, claiming that he was "still figuring all that out."

Unfortunately, it appears that Feige and Waldron never got the chance to figure it out. In March 2023, it was reported that their "Star Wars" movie was no longer in active development. Now, with Feige grappling with his own franchise's issues and Waldron busy writing "Avengers: Secret Wars," it doesn't look like it'll be happening any time soon.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

Okay, this one kind of hurts. Among the many, many, many "Star Wars" titles announced at Disney's Investor Day in 2020 was "Rogue Squadron," a standalone movie written and directed by Patty Jenkins. That title alone was enough to get fans excited — "Rogue Squadron" is also the title of a novel in Michael A. Stackpole's beloved "X-Wing" trilogy and a series of video games released in the late '90s and early '00s. The plot was supposed to follow a "new generation of starfighter pilots," and Kathleen Kennedy all but confirmed that it would take place after the events of "The Rise of Skywalker." Cool, right?

Alas, it was not to be. "Rogue Squadron" was delayed in November 2021; at the time, Kennedy insisted that Jenkins was simply "developing the script further." Although Jenkins herself later took to Twitter to insist that everything was still on track, the movie was shelved for good in March 2023. An unconfirmed report by film critic Jeff Sneider (via StarWarsNewsNet) suggested that Jenkins was difficult to work with and that her script for "Rogue Squadron" was "a mess."

The "Star Wars" universe is worse off without "Rogue Squadron." It's fair to say that Jenkins' recent output has been mixed, but nobody involved in the chaos of the DCEU's dying days should have their work held against them, and her better films, such as the original "Wonder Woman," are nothing less than superb. Moreover, you'll struggle to find a cooler concept in the "Star Wars" universe than a movie following a team of X-Wing pilots. Done well, "Rogue Squadron" could have been the "Rogue One" third act writ large. Ah, well.

Rangers of the New Republic

Another of the Disney Investor Day alumni, "Rangers of the New Republic" was supposed to take place around the same time as "The Mandalorian" and "Ahsoka," with each show contributing one part of an interconnecting story. "The Mandalorian" breakout star Gina Carano was set to headline the series, which likely would have followed Cara Dune's adventures alongside the forces of the burgeoning New Republic.

Then, in February 2021, Disney fired Carano after the actor shared a post on social media that compared being a Republican to being a victim of the Holocaust. This was merely the final straw for Disney's top brass, as Carano had spent months stoking controversy with her tweets about COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election. Three months later, it was reported that "Rangers of the New Republic" had been taken out of active development. Kathleen Kennedy confirmed this later that year, telling Empire (via SyFy) that, despite not having written any scripts for the show, some of its story beats would "figure into future episodes [...] of the next iteration of 'Mandalorian.'"

Don't get me wrong: Nobody worth listening to shed any tears over Carano's "Star Wars" departure. Still, it's a real pity that her tweets appear to have tanked "Rangers of the New Republic" along with her career, especially since we've seen so little of the New Republic in live action. As Kennedy promised "The Mandalorian" Season 3 seems to have folded in some aspects of the canceled show's story, but these teases only make the greater loss harder to bear.

J.D. Dillard's project

In February 2020, it was reported that "Sleight" writer-slash-director J.D. Dillard had been tapped to bring a new "Star Wars" movie to the screen, written by "Luke Cage" and "Agents of SHIELD" scribe Matt Owens. Almost everything else about the production — the plot, setting, cast, and even whether it was a movie or streaming series — was unknown.

The next thing we heard about Dillard's project was its cancellation: In 2022, it was reported that Dillard's movie was no longer happening. "It was not for lack of trying," he told the outlet. Dillard was reluctant to reveal much about how his movie might have looked, but he did claim that the 1994 video game "Star Wars: TIE Fighter" first sparked his interest in the franchise. And that was the end of that.

We learned so few of the details surrounding Dillard's movie-slash-show-slash-whatever that it's hard to feel much grief for its sudden departure. But, perhaps more than any other, this project embodies the mess of Lucasfilm's current approach to the "Star Wars" saga. The studio hired a capable and exciting creative to join their universe, hyped them up in the trades, and then either booted them or drove them away before they could announce so much as a working title. It's the kind of sloppiness that helped bring down the sequel trilogy, sabotaged the spinoff movies, and inspires endless cynicism, rather than hope, in fans' hearts. Sadly, until Disney and Lucasfilm get their house in order, it seems that "Star Wars" is destined to remain as little more than a graveyard of creativity.