Now, for a man who invented what may well be the most beloved cultural entity currently known to man — the Star Wars franchise — George Lucas has gotten a pretty bad deal when it comes to assigning credit for his creation's rampant global success. He conjured the likes of Han Solo, Chewbacca, and A New Hope from his own brain-stem, but he also made characters and movies that we didn't enjoy as much as them, and so, according to the ancient laws of geekdom, he must be shunned and punished by those that once loved him.
Or so, at least, the logic of many fans heartbroken by the prequels seems to go.
The point being? George Lucas has long been much-maligned for creating something truly incredible, and then doing things with it that we don't necessarily approve of. Which, considering what Star Wars almost ended up being, might just be more than a little unfair.
George Lucas's Original 'Star Wars' Screenplay Was Completely and Utterly Insane
But, y'know, in a good way.
The thing is, Lucas wasn't originally writing a very-very-'70s tale of dashing smugglers, naive farmboys, and audacious princesses. He was writing a big, bold space opera, with more terrifying and peculiar aliens than you could shake a cantina at.
One in which we almost saw a whole lot of deeply unusual sci-fi awesomeness — which was thankfully adapted into comic book form by J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew a year or two back.
Which means we can now see (and not simply imagine)...
A Giant Green Han Solo
Who was less a famous smuggler and pirate, and more a notorious Wookiee hunter.
A Way Less Exciting Darth Vader
He's more man now than machine.
General Luke Skywalker
Who was basically Obi-Wan combined with the prequel-era Jedi.
A Distinctly Different Chewbacca
Who inevitably had a very different relationship with the wookiee-hunting Han.
A Very 'Metropolis'-y C-3PO
Who was teamed up with...
A Surprisingly Similar R2-D2
Who could, however, talk. And, finally (and predictably)...
A Still-in-Need-of-Rescue Princess Leia
Who, at the story's close, actually ends up becoming Queen Leia, but still spends most of her time being a classically space-opera-ish damsel in distress.
The point of all of that?
George Lucas had always intended to make a big, weird, prequel-like science fiction extravaganza, filled with strange aliens and 1940s plot tropes — and ultimately ended up creating the Star Wars we now know and love out of budgetary necessity. Which, depending on your view of the man, you can read in (at least) two different ways.
1. Lucas was always kind of a goofball, who inadvertently created something great because of studio meddling with his original, super out-there ideas.
2. Lucas was able to create something great because of his willingness to adapt and edit his original super out-there ideas into something others would love.
And, either way, it kind of explains why the prequels caused so much fan dismay — they were Lucas's first real opportunity to do whatever he wanted with the saga, without all that much studio interference or enforced script editing. For better or for worse, we ultimately saw something closer to his original — magnificently weird — vision, and couldn't necessarily reconcile it with the original trilogy we loved so much.
Whether we should blame Lucas for that, though, I leave up to you...
What do you think, then?