Did George Lucas Initially Plan on Killing Darth Vader off in the First Star Wars Sequel?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: George Lucas initially planned on killing Darth Vader off in the first sequel to Star Wars.

A while back, I talked about how in 1976 George Lucas had Alan Dean Foster write a screenplay for possible sequel to the first Star Wars film. This was when Lucas wasn’t sure what kind of box office numbers the film would do. There was a chance that the film could bomb, but there was also a chance that the film might do just “okay” business. Good enough to merit a sequel, but not good enough to merit a big budget sequel. So Foster worked out a screenplay for a low-budget sequel to the film. Obviously, the film became a big hit, so Foster’s screenplay was not necessary, and it instead became his Star Wars novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.

One of the fascinating things that we’ve seen come up in a number of Star Wars legends over the years (like whether Darth Vader was always going to be Luke’s father or whether Luke and Leia were always going to be siblings) is that George Lucas was a lot looser with the Star Wars canon at the time. That was quite logical, of course, as he did not yet know that he had created a blockbuster film franchise. He just knew that he had made a film that he was hoping would be a hit but was fully prepared for it to not be a hit (he had even made a bet with Steven Spielberg that the film would not be as successful as Spielberg’s next film!). One of the great pieces of historical Star Wars information are the story conferences that Lucas, Foster and Lucasfilm Vice President Charles Lippincott had back in 1976. The great Star Wars historian J W Rinzler transcribed the conference and they revealed a great many things – including Lucas’ desire to move on from Darth Vader as soon as he could!

Read on to see what Lucas’ problem was with Vader and why he wanted to kill him off!
Continue reading “Did George Lucas Initially Plan on Killing Darth Vader off in the First Star Wars Sequel?”