Nostalgia is a funny thing. As time passes and we all get a little older, we notice new things when watching older movies. We see actors that went on other, more prominent roles and we get a new appreciation of cinematography. Sometimes we even get the jokes that flew over our head as a child. But George Lucas likes to take things one step further. Whether it’s through re-releasing the original trilogy (and re-releasing the re-releases) with a bunch of unnecessary edits or introducing things in the prequels that have major ramifications on the series as a whole, here are 10 things George Lucas later made canon that weren’t in the original trilogy.
At the climax of Return of the Jedi, the Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning, prompting Darth Vader to throw the Emperor down a chasm and kill him. In the theatrical release and earlier home video releases, Darth Vader watches and acts in silence. The 2011 Blu-ray release adds Darth Vader muttering “No” and then yelling a drawn-out “No!”, creating a parallel with his similar cry at the end of Revenge of the Sith. This addition is unnecessary and sounds terrible. It takes what was once emotional and makes it laughable, displaying a distrust in an audience’s ability to interpret Vader’s emotions. The symmetry created by the parallel is clumsy and feels like a mockery of the scene in the prequel.
9. Death Star Origin
As the prequel trilogy continues, more and more references and Easter eggs to the original trilogy pop up. For instance, in Attack of the Clones, we see that the Death Star designs did not start with the Empire. Instead, they were taken from Archduke Poggle the Lesser, a Geonosian leader, by Count Dooku. However, that’s not how it went down in the Original Trilogy. Not only did all the movies imply the Death Star was an Imperial design, but the once-canonical EU allowed us to meet the Imperial designer (a man named Bevel Lemelisk).
8. Darth Vader’s Motives
While most of the changes in this list are for the worse, this is one change that actually helped flesh out the main villain in the original trilogy. Previously, Vader was presented as someone who fully chose to walk the path of evil. However, the prequels showed us how he was manipulated by Palpatine over time and effectively had no choice but to become an agent of the Empire. In this way, Anakin is actually a victim, and a much more sympathetic character.
7. Jedi Training
How long does it take to become a Jedi? It depends on which movie you watch. In the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker gets some basic training by Obi-Wan before his death. He then seems to practice on his own for a few years before getting more formalized training with Yoda over what appears to be a few days. He then continues to train on his own and is able to go toe-to-toe with Darth Vader. In the prequels, however, training takes 10-13 years and must start when a child is very young. Even in the Extended Universe, applicants are turned away for being too old.
6. Leia Remembers Someone She Never Met
In Return of the Jedi, Leia discusses memories of her mother, whom she describes as being nice, but sad. Of course, Revenge of the Sith shows us the big problem with this. In that movie, we see Padme pass away immediately after giving birth to her children. Not only would Leia then not have any memory of her mother’s face, but she certainly wouldn’t know anything about her personality. It’s possible that, being attuned to the Force, Leia saw her face during dreams, but even that is a stretch.
5. Anakin’s Ghost
At the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader is redeemed by killing the Emperor to save Luke Skywalker’s life, then dies of his injuries shortly after, and appears to Luke as Anakin Skywalker alongside the Force ghosts of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the 1983 theatrical release, Sebastian Shaw plays this Force ghost in addition to an unmasked Vader. Later, Hayden Christensen was cast as Anakin in the prequel trilogy films Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. To reflect this, the 2004 DVD release of Return of the Jedi replaced Shaw’s appearance as the Force ghost with Christensen. Why? Force ghosts can’t make themselves appear 30 years younger – and if they could, why isn’t Obi-Wan also depicted as his much younger self?
4. Obi-Wan The Liar?
In the prequels, Obi-Wan is depicted as lawful good – a man who can do no wrong. However, there are several inconsistencies that either ignore previously established canon, or paint an older Obi-Wan as a compulsive liar. When Luke brings the R2D2 to Obi-Wan, he says he doesn’t recognize him and also doesn’t recall ever owning a droid. In the prequels, we see that Obi-Wan should be quite familiar with R2D2, and he seemingly had his own droid for when he flew starships. In addition, he suggests Luke should train with Yoda because Yoda was his master. However, in The Phantom Menace, we see that Obi-Wan’s master is actually Qui-Gon.
3. Fast Jedi
Every lightsaber fight in the original trilogy is a slog more akin to chess. In the prequels, however, Jedi are seen jumping and flipping around effortlessly. In Attack of the Clones, they are practically showboating. What changed? Did Order 66 ground the Jedi in the reality that they are in fact not invincible and started to focus on substance over style?
The scientific explanation that nobody wanted. Previously, the Force was all about mysticism – it couldn’t be measured so much as felt, and it flowed through and connected everything and everyone. It appeared that some were just more in tune than others. With enough concentration and belief, aspiring Jedi can lift anything from rocks to starships. The Phantom Menace changed all of that. Now, the Force was communicated to Jedi by microscopic creatures known as midichlorians. With a simple blood scan, you could gauge how powerful someone’s Force potential was.
1. Han (No Longer) Shot First
In Star Wars: A New Hope, Han Solo is cornered in the Mos Eisley cantina by the bounty hunter Greedo, and the confrontation ends with Han shooting under the table and killing Greedo. In the original 1977 theatrical release of the film, Han shoots Greedo, and Greedo does not shoot at all. The 1997 Special Edition release of the film alters the scene so that Greedo shoots first and misses, and the scene is altered again in the 2004 DVD release of the film so that Han and Greedo shoot simultaneously. George Lucas stated that he always intended for Greedo to have shot first. This decision sparked objections that it changed Han’s moral ambiguity, fundamentally altered his established character, and diminished his transition from antihero to hero.