ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning - potential SPOILERS for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens lie below. Proceed with caution, and all that...)

Now, with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens drifting ever-closer to actually hitting the big screen—we're talking less than two months now—it's becoming more and more difficult to avoid falling down a shiny, force-lined rabbit hole of Star Wars nostalgia and original trilogy re-watching. After all, with The Force Awakens' director J.J. Abrams seemingly looking to recapture a whole lot of what we loved about the series as kids, it makes perfect sense to re-watch the originals on loop, right?

Well, it actually might, seeing as:

The Original Star Wars Trilogy Looks Set to Define Episode VII, But Not in the Way You Might Think

Y'see, I don't mean that it's set to have a major influence on Episode VII's general plot or tone - though it absolutely will. After all, that's pretty much a given considering the new trilogy is set to act as a direct sequel to the original. Instead, I'm suggesting that there are certain small, awesome details of the classic trilogy that might just be set to define the new movies in some distinctly surprising ways.

Here, then (in honor of the next installment of the saga), are seven of the most intriguing...

First up?

7. Alec Guinness Thought the Whole Saga Was 'Rubbish'

Specifically, the original Obi Wan himself once described the series as "fairy-tale rubbish", and only returned for a cameo in Return of the Jedi in exchange for a percentage of the film's gross and a severely curtailed working day.

Why That Matters For Episode VII: Well, remember how Obi Wan always kind of seemed like he'd rather not be there, but still became an iconic part of all of our childhoods? Well, just imagine how great the critically acclaimed likes of Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson and Lupita Nyong'o could be in Episode VII, considering they all clearly love the idea of working with the material...

6. Princess Leia Was Partly Created With Gaffer Tape

Or, at least, it turns out that Carrie Fisher was reportedly ordered to tape her breasts down with the famously hard-wearing tape—since George Lucas apparently held that there was "no underwear in space," and her nipples could be seen through her costume otherwise. Funny that the prohibition of bras didn't seem to extend to gold bikinis, though...

Why That Matters For Episode VII: There's a pretty good chance that, in the years following Return of the Jedi, someone in that galaxy far, far away invented underwear, and that we'll probably get the chance to see it. After all, J.J. Abrams loves himself a goofy romantic fumble or two (on screen).

5. Yoda Was Almost Played By an Actual Monkey

If you've ever wondered just how Yoda ended up being an (iconic) green muppet, look no further than J.W. Rinzler’s 2010 book, The Making Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, in which it was revealed that Yoda was almost played by an actual, factual monkey. Specifically, this monkey:

Which, in fairness, might have gotten rid of some of the 'why use CGI?' controversy of the sequels...

Why That Matters For Episode VII: Well, remember how J.J. Abrams has promised there'll be a large number of real-life creature effects in Episode VII, as opposed to the whole movie being either a) a giant pile of CGI or b) a giant pile of monkeys? It's hard not to trace that decision back to a certain glorious green Jedi...who wasn't played by a terrifying masked monkey in the end.

4. David Lynch Passed on Directing Return of the Jedi

That's right, the David Lynch was approached by George Lucas to direct Jedi, but turned him down. Presumably because the Ewoks, Sarlacc Pit and Gamorrean guards weren't weird enough...

Why That Matters For Episode VII: In a very immediate sense, it really doesn't. After all, David Lynch doesn't have anything much to do with the movie (barring a surprising dream sequence we really aren't expecting). The fact that distinctive sci-fi auteur Rian Johnson is taking on Episode VIII, though, seems to suggest that not only have the folks behind the scenes learned from the (possibly insane) missed opportunity Lynch represents, but that Episode VII will likely leave the saga in a suitable state for the distinctively voiced Johnson to take over.

3. There Were No Female Pilots in the Original Movies

As it turns out, there were originally intended to be a number of female pilots in Return of the Jedi—with several of them turning up on the film's Blu Ray release—but none of them made it into the final film. The widely speculated reason? It was thought audience's would be shocked to watch female pilots die on screen.

Why That Matters For Episode VII: There are few better ways to show the difference between the inexplicable conservatism of the past and the shiny, (slightly) less sexist modern day than by fixing as glaring a disparity as mono-gendered pilots. Expect Poe Dameron to high-five at least one female fighter ace and Rey to grab the Millennium Falcon's controls at some point...

2. The Word 'Ewok' Was Never Used in Return of the Jedi

Yup, that's right. Love 'em or hate 'em, we all got their names from the credits (and the endless promotional materials surrounding them) rather than from Return of the Jedi itself, in which they're also never referred to as "Proto-Jar Jars."

Why That Matters For Episode VII: We're almost certainly not going to hear anyone use the word Ewok. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, though, I leave up to you...

Speaking of the trilogy's final entry, though...

1. Return of the Jedi Almost Had a Very Different Ending

Specifically, it almost had an insanely dark one - in which, after Darth Vader sacrifices himself in defeating the Emperor:

Luke takes his mask off. The mask is the very last thing - and then Luke puts it on and says, 'Now I am Vader.' Surprise! The ultimate twist. 'Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe.'

Which, just to clarify, are George Lucas' own words, from an early story session with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.

Why That Matters For Episode VII: Well, for one thing, it suggests that there really could be something to those rumors about Luke having either flirted with—or fully embraced—the dark side of the Force by the start of Episode VII. It also, though, might well hint at Kylo Ren's obsession with Vader's helmet, recently confirmed by Episode VII's final trailer, having a direct relationship with Return of the Jedi's ending.

He couldn't secretly be a Skywalker, could he?

And...all of that's got me all over-enthusiastic again. Another look at the new trailer, anyone?

Ah, that's better...

What do you reckon, though?


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