I think everyone remembers exactly where they were the first time they watched The Empire Strikes Back. While Empire is indisputably the best Star Wars film of them all, there’s one moment in the science fiction movie in particular which cemented its legacy.
Star Wars fans will know I’m talking about the plot twist wherein it is revealed that Darth Vader, the biggest Star Wars villain in the franchise, is actually Luke Skywalker’s father. All it took was four words – “No, I am your father” — to make history. It’s undoubtedly one of the best movie plot twists of them all, which makes the fact it very nearly didn’t happen all the more surprising.
According to ‘The Making Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ by J.W. Rinzler, early drafts of the script had Vader be a different character to Luke’s father. He was still Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, but in Leigh Brackett’s first script draft, he never fell to the dark side.
Instead, he tells Luke how he sent him and his sister away for their protection, and administers the oath of a Jedi Knight to both Luke and Luke’s sister (who’s also training to be a Jedi Knight). Then, he, Obi-Wan, and Luke cross lightsabers as Luke swears to “dedicate my life to the cause of freedom and justice.”
As an Anakin Skywalker apologist (I would totally fix him), I feel torn. On the one hand, seeing how Anakin might have turned out if he never fell to the dark side presents a side of the Star Wars character we’ve never seen before. It’s fascinating, yes, but if we’re being honest, it also feels a little… boring? Playing it too safe?
It would make Empire a completely new movie, but not necessarily a better one. At the core of Star Wars is the battle of good versus evil and those pesky moral greys, and nothing encapsulates this better than the big movie villain having a strong familial connection to the protagonist.
So, while it’s definitely intriguing to look back on, George Lucas definitely made the right choice when it comes to the Skywalker family tree.
For more on our favorite film franchise, check out our guides to the Star Wars cast or debate the different ways to watch Star Wars in order with us. There’s also the Andor season 2 release date, The Acolyte release date, and all the new Star Wars movies coming soon, so get ready for those!