Before selling the franchise to Disney, George Lucas had an idea of where he wanted Star Wars to go. But according to J.J. Abrams, by the time he came on board to direct The Force Awakens, “Disney had already decided they didn’t want to go that direction, so the mandate was to start from scratch and tell a story that was the continuum.” It’s unlikely we’ll ever know what Lucas had planned — it likely didn’t align with The Last Jedi, which subverted many of the worst Star Wars tropes — but a new book reveals one of his visions.
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind Episode VIII, including concept art, costume sketches, storyboards, and, according to SlashFilm, “one small peek at a George Lucas-approved Jedi Temple on the planet that later became known as Ahch-to.”
In the book, we learn that one of the first meetings to visualize The Force Awakens happened on January 16, 2013 at Skywalker Ranch with George Lucas himself. Among the pieces presented at the meeting were portraits of an older Luke Skywalker training a new disciple named Kira (later renamed Rey). The idea was that, 30 years after the fall of the Empire, Luke had gone to a dark place and secluded himself in a Jedi temple on a new planet. The paintings show Luke meditating, reassessing his whole life. (Via)
Lucas’ original idea of Episode VII (which involved a prequel-looking Jedi Temple) was for Luke to train his new Jedi student, but “everyone realized that Luke Skywalker would better serve the needs of the story as the person that everyone seeks but does not find until the final scene of The Force Awakens.” Luke’s re-introduction being delayed until the final scene of The Force Awakens, and his training with Rey not beginning until The Last Jedi, entirely changes the direction of the films. We could have seen porgs even sooner!