David Lynch Directing "Return of the Jedi" -- Alternate "Star Wars" Ideas
A member of my alternate-history forum said that, according to Wikipedia, George Lucas asked David Lynch to direct The Return of the Jedi but Lynch refused, stating that Lucas should follow his own vision rather than use Lynch's take on it.
This spawned the following discussion.
Some people seemed to think with Lynch at the helm, the story would be more complex and morally gray. That got me thinking, so here are some alternate ROTJ scenarios that you fan-fiction aficionados might appreciate:
An Alternate Throne Room Battle:
We've already seen Luke tempted by the Dark Side and in the beginning of ROTJ, he uses what later SW works have described as a "Dark Side" Force power--when he Force-chokes one of Jabba's guards. However, he is also intent on redeeming his father Darth Vader, something that Obi-Wan and Yoda think is impossible.
If he can hold onto that focus more strongly, he won't go totally berserk on Vader when the Dark Lord penetrates Luke's mind, learns that Leia is his sister, and suggests if Luke will not join the Dark Side, perhaps Leia will. He'll still be angry enough to beat Vader into submission, but if he disarms Vader in a less brutal manner than severing his sword hand, he won't realize just how far he's gone.
So he beats Vader and Palpatine starts his "take your father's place at my side" speech. Luke, still verging on the Dark Side, attacks Palpatine. They duel and Luke, facing a more powerful and skilled opponent, draws on the Dark Side and surprises Palpatine with Force Lightning. Palpatine is older (to the point of walking with a cane) and overconfident, so Luke might be able to overpower him.
Vader has at this point recovered and starts his speech about how now that Luke has beaten Palpatine, they can rule together--all he needs to do is finish the Emperor. Meanwhile, Palpatine seeks to regain control of the situation and reveals to Luke the coming Yuuzhan Vong, an extragalactic warlike race whose scouts have already reached Imperial territory, and states that the Rebellion is jeopardizing the united galaxy needed to stop them.
(For those of you less familiar with the SW universe, the Vong invaded many years after the Empire's fall. There is some canonical material suggesting Palpatine knew they were coming and that was one of his motivations for taking over and militarizing the galaxy.)
Luke, who had thrown himself to what he thought was his death rather than submit to Vader's tutelage in the Dark Side in The Empire Strikes Back, would likely get a similar "system shock" from Vader's offer that he got in the canonical film when he severed his father's hand. Think the TVTrope "Your Approval Fills Me With Shame," on top of the realization that he's on the verge of seriously going evil. He announces that a Jedi does not murder a defeated opponent and turns his back on Palpatine.
Bad idea. Palpatine, angry that he has been knocked around by a teenager as well as angry at being spurned, lashes out with the Force Lightning. He's even more overtly sadistic about it than in the canonical film, which "reawakens" Anakin Skywalker. Vader then throws Palpatine to his doom and that part of the story ends more or less the same way as canon.
The end result of this scenario is that Luke is somewhat "grayer," having gone much close to falling to the Dark Side than he did in the actual film, and the Empire is shown to have a good reason for doing some of what it does. And the "Good is Dumb" aspect of Luke is cranked up if he actually turns his back on a living Palpatine, albeit one whom he has defeated, in the name of not unnecessarily killing.
Making a Deal With the Devil
One board member suggested a reptilian race, which are traditionally depicted as evil, on the side of the good guys. In keeping with Lynch's grayness, they would still be unpleasant--he suggested lizard-equivalents of Ewoks eating Imperial soldiers alive.
That reminded me of the novel The Truce at Bakura, in which it is revealed that Palpatine allowed an alien race called the Ssi-Ruuk to attack isolated Imperial worlds in exchange for their technology. After Palpatine died in canon, the Ssi-Ruuk went all open-season on the Empire, leading to an alliance between the Rebels and at least one Imperial garrison to deal with them.
I'm thinking that allowing aliens to ravage human-inhabited worlds would not be popular with Imperial military commanders if it got out. Palpatine, to forestall a possible military challenge to his rule (according to non-movie sources, there was at least one in the canonical timeline), decides to backstab the Ssi-Ruuk.
The Ssi-Ruuk--who believe that if they die away from a consecrated homeworld, their soul will be lost forever and thus will be especially angry if any of them die in Palpatine's betrayal--approach the Rebels. They will assist the Rebel fleet against the Empire if they get Imperial POWs to "entech"--basically use their souls to power their automated war machines they use for most combat.
The Rebels are horrified by this and reject the Ssi-Ruuk offer. However, when they attack the second Death Star, they find that it's operational and protected by a heavy-duty energy shield. The phrase "it's a trap!" comes to mind. So when things get bad, Akbar calls the Ssi-Ruuk and accepts their offer. The Ssi-Ruuvi fleet arrives and helps defeat the Imperial fleet over Endor, but then the Ssi-Ruuk demand their pound of flesh (the Imperial garrison of Endor and anyone rescued from destroyed Imperial ships)...
Another member of the message-board suggested another unsavory reptilian ally for the Rebellion could be the Trandoshans, a race of slavers who particularly like picking on Wookiees. They were allied to the Empire and procured Wookiee slaves for them, but given the Empire's anti-nonhuman racism, I imagine there was friction.
If the Trandoshans decide to ally with the Rebels against Palpatine, that'd caused a lot of friction within the Rebellion, especially with the Wookiees like Chewbacca who'd suffered at their hands. Bonus points if they commit atrocities against Imperial soldiers and worlds and sell Imperial POWs into slavery. This would make the Rebellion a lot more morally "gray" too.
Heck, here's something for anyone who wants to rewrite ROTJ to be dark and grim (or at least less black and white morally)--use both of my suggestions. I'd recommend picking either the Ssi-Ruuk or the Trandoshans for the second one, since using both of them would be a lizard overload.
If you use the ideas, please link back to this blog.