George Lucas is a name that has incensed anger from many fans in the Star Wars Universe since the first of the prequels reared their head on theater screens in 1999.
The creator of a world that fans grew to love with a strange, almost Star Trek like fervor post-Return of the Jedi had been gone for too long, and hopes were high.
But amid Jar Jar Binks, an unpolished child actor, and a questionable screenplay from the creator himself, confidence started to slip.
Add to the mix the fact that George Lucas himself had changed one of the great scenes of the original — “Han shot first!” — and decided to hold that scene hostage for the remainder of his time as head of Lucasfilm, and the honeymoon between him and his fanbase was definitely over.
Only recently, following the high-profile sale of Star Wars and all of Lucasfilm’s properties to Disney as well as his shockingly noble act of giving all proceeds to educational charities, have fans been able to start forgiving him.
Now news that just dropped last week about his original plans for the prequels could have many of the most jaded George Lucas haters breaking down and forgiving the man.
In fact, after you hear this, you may even feel like you owe George an apology yourself.
That’s because he never intended to direct the prequels at all.
Apparently Lucas’s first choice for directing The Phantom Menace was Steven Spielberg. When he couldn’t get Spielberg, he wanted Robert Zemeckis. Failing on both counts, he turned next to Ron Howard. None of it panned out.
This and more was revealed in a new piece from Flickering Myth‘s Neil Calloway. The post, entitled “The Star Wars Films That Never Got Made,” takes an in-depth look at the world beyond the original trilogy and prequels that could have been.
In addition to these surprising reveals are the reports that there was almost a Splinter of the Mind’s Eye film, which would have been shot on a lower budget had A New Hope failed at the box office. There was also the possibility of a David Lynch-directed Return of the Jedi, which would have been — interesting.
But back to the George Lucas thing. Why should this exonerate him in the eyes of the millions of fans, who grew to hate the prequels?
The short answer is that Lucas knew directing wasn’t his strong suit. At the time, he was turning to the best directorial minds in Hollywood because he wanted the prequels to be in good hands.
He wanted someone he trusted to handle the world that he had worked so hard to build.
At a certain point, Lucas had to make a judgment call.
“Turn this over to someone I trust, put it in the hands of someone unproven, or handle it myself?”
Clearly after three misses, he was frustrated with the process of finding the right director and tried undertaking it himself.
Had he been able to get a Spielberg or Zemeckis or Howard, the real problems that existed with those three films — overwrought CGI and stunningly bad dialogue — would have been cleaned up by the guys, who had a flare for that kind of thing.
George Lucas could have been in the role that always suited him best — supreme overseer and idea man.
In short, Lucas did not mean for the prequels to turn out as they did. He just made a necessary judgment call that didn’t pan out as well as it could have.
Now that the series is out of his hands, that will no longer be a problem. And given that George Lucas has given the new film his seal of approval, as Metro reports, Star Wars fans have a lot to look forward to.