Back in 2012 when Disney acquired the entirety of the Star Wars universe in a deal that was worth more than $4 billion, fans were torn between disappointment and hope for the future in terms of the property’s film future. On one hand, the franchise had been taken out of the hands of its creator, George Lucas, and into the portfolio of a mega-corporation primarily concerned with turning a profit. But on the other … remember those prequels? That’s what happens when George Lucas has complete control over a franchise. None of us want to go back to that, so as for myself, I was among the many Star Wars fans who were cautiously optimistic about the idea of more Star Wars movies being made without Lucas’ involvement.
This always left a big, unanswered question, though: What kind of movies would George Lucas have chosen to make for eps. 7-9, if he had the chance? Today, we’ve finally been given some kind of answer, and suffice to say … it’s weirder than we could have ever expected. According to an excerpt from Lucas in the book version of James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, the follow-ups to Return of the Jedi would have taken place on a smaller, more intimate scale—a “microbiotic world,” to be precise. Lucas’ vision apparently revolved around tiny beings or life forms called “Whills,” who operate within the human body (via Phantom Menace’s much-despised “midichlorians”) and “feed off The Force.” You can read the entire passages in the embedded tweet below, which is a conversation between Lucas and Cameron.
This revelation, which Lucas has gone out of his way to not address in the past, raises dozens of questions immediately. With the focus shifting to things literally going on inside human bodies, does that mean Lucas was planning on abandoning the six-film-long story of the Skywalker family that he had established? How were these revelations about the inner workings of the body going to be discovered? Was Luke Skywalker going to become a Force biologist of some kind, peering at tissue samples under a Force-sensitive electron microscope?
As others have already pointed out, the idea of “traveling inside the body,” if that was on the table, sounds like something straight out of The Magic School Bus, which is hardly what you expect from a film with “WARS” in the title. In fact, it feels worringly similar to the worst excesses of The Phantom Menace—the portions of film that felt like something that only Lucas had any interest in watching. And indeed, in the quotes above, Lucas goes on to gripe about public reaction to the point on “symbiosis” he was trying to make via The Phantom Menace and midichlorians, seemingly blissfully unaware that the reason people don’t like them is that they went a step toward demystifying something pleasantly mysterious and arcane. As it turns out, viewers didn’t want to see The Force turned into an aspect of cellular biology.
Of course, Lucas has always been unreliable, in terms of claiming he’s planned the film series out in the long term. This is of course the guy who wrote numerous instances of Luke lusting after (and smooching) Leia before deciding that they had been siblings all along. So we should definitely be taking this with a big, generous spoonful of salt when he says “All the way back to—with The Force and the Jedi and everything—the whole concept of how things happen was laid out completely from the beginning to the end. But I never got to finish. I never got to tell people about it.”
Nobody forced you to sell your stuff to Disney, George. If you want to continue claiming you’ve wanted to write about microbiotic Whills since 1977 but never got around to mentioning them until 2018, though, go right ahead.