Everyone knows the Star Wars story by now. No, not the age old battle of good versus evil, but rather the story of how Star Wars itself came into being. It's common knowledge that the Star Wars we know and love was nothing like George Lucas' initial script, and until last year, all that remained of this story was a few pieces of concept art and Lucas' own recollections. The script still existed, but remained shrouded in mystery.
But in mid-2013, Dark Horse, the publishing company behind the Star Wars comic series, announced they'd begun adapting this script into a brand new eight-part series, finally bringing this unique story into the limelight.
And boy, was it awesome.
The story itself was very different to anything we'd seen in the films. Luke Skywalker didn't start off as a young farm boy on Tatooine at all, but rather an esteemed military general hailing from Utapau, and Han Solo has certainly seen some drastic changes since his conception.
The comics are some of the best ever mmade and really do justice to the original script and I would definitely recommend giving them a read. At the same time, I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone, so instead of ruining all the fun and giving away the entire plot, I thought I'd just stick to the character and setting changes.
1. Luke Skywalker is NOT the hero
Like I said above, Luke isn't a lowly farm boy anymore. Instead, he acts more like the Obi-Wan figure to the new protagonist, Annikin Starkiller. Name sound familiar?
Annikin essentially fills in the role that was later given to Luke Skywalker in the later drafts of the script. You could say that he became Luke as the story evolved through editing, with the Luke Skywalker of this story merely being an earlier embodiment of Ben Kenobi.
While the character of Annikin greatly resembled the Luke we know, he was also much cockier and impulsive than our hero, traits that later found their way into the one and only Han Solo.
Tatooine also fails to make an appearance, with Annikin's homeworld instead falling under the name of Utapau. Along with his brother and father, who isn't Darth Vader, Annikin had fled Order 66 (known as the Jedi Rebellion in this edition) and settled on this remote moon to begin his training as a Jedi. From there on in his life is pretty much turned upside down after the arrival of Luke Skywalker, and with that a new journey begins...
Annikin Starkiller was more or less scrapped after the first draft of the script and was thoroughly replaced by Luke Skywalker when the film was eventually released. However, when the prospect of a sequel came about, the name "Annikin" was used once again for Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker. His surname, Starkiller, was later used in the videogame Star Wars - The Force Unleashed as the codename for the protagonist, Galen Marek.
2. Han Solo was a Wookiee hunter
Yep. You read that right. Han Solo, strongest ally and best friend of everyone's favourite walking carpet, was originally set to hunt down and kill Wookiees for fun. In this iteration, Han Solo was anything but a stuck up, scruffy looking nerf herder. He acted as the foil to Luke and Annikin's optimism and was barely seen throughout the tale.
Also he was a giant lizard. Weird, huh?
Instead of a chance meeting in a cantina, Han's involvement in Luke and Annikin's antics had already been set in motion. Han had in fact been a good friend of Annikin's father, Kane Starkiller, and agreed to help.
By the time the final script was finished, Han Solo was a human smuggler with a wookiee co-pilot and a wisecracking joke prepared for every situation. His role was made much bigger, making him one of the greatest heroes of the rebellion as opposed to a throwaway side character with little screen time.
His earlier concept art later inspired the creation of the bounty hunter Bossk, but otherwise, Han's cold-blooded doppelgänger has sadly disappeared from Star Wars canon.
3. Darth Vader doesn't like to get too involved
Dark Lord of the Sith. Master of Evil. Pop Culture Legend. Yes, out of everything Star Wars has given to the world, Darth Vader is by far the most iconic. Everyone knows who he is, everyone can recognise him, and James Earl Jones' voice has become synonymous with that black armour.
And he's more or less absent throughout this entire series.
Darth Vader seems to take up the role of the Emperor in this story, taking the back seat while he gets his Sith lackey to do all the dirty work. Of course I don't want to get into too many details and delve right into spoiler territory, but this other guy pretty much does all of Vader's dirty work for him.
Vader wasn't even a force user, let alone a Sith Lord, yet he still managed to bend other people to his will. Despite being just another Imperial Officer, he was still feared across the galaxy. Just the fact that he can command people with the same authority he holds in the movie as he does in this comic makes him seem even more badass when you think about it. I mean, he must have been seriously intimidating to make up for the lack of any powers.
In another twist, he's almost certainly more man than machine, possessing just one cybernetic eye and a whole lot of awesome scars. While he doesn't really have the iconic look we'[d expect from such a notorious villain, he certainly still has that evil air about him that would only come from a truly legendary villain.
If you haven't yet read The Star Wars, I'd highly recommend you do so straight away. For your everyday casual fan, it's a fun, compelling story that really keeps you engaged throughout, and for all you hardcore Star Wars nerds, it's chock-full of in jokes and easter eggs that will keep bringing you back time after time to see if you can find them all.
And sure, while I'm sure everyone was happy with how the first Star Wars film turned out, it's still always fun to have a look and see what could have been.