We had no idea the Star Wars prequels could have been this good! A brand new book of Star Wars storyboards maps out a much darker origin story for Luke and Leia Skywalker. Everything is darker, worlds are destroyed, characters die and Qui-Gon Jinn HAS A MOHAWK. Here's the amazing details we spotted in Star Wars Storyboards, a new book put together by the artists behind the prequels.
First up, we think it's important to point out that Qui-Gon Jinn HAD A MOHAWK. Clearly this is the Episode I: The Phantom Menace from the darker timeline. He looks amazing.
Also, Qui-Gon is much younger in these glorious illustrations. According to the artists, both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon were similar in age.
Here's another illustration of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon in action. Look at these hot, young space yoga cowboys. We're kind of liking the Young Guns Jedi thing going on here.
This particular scene illustrates the early "negotiations" in Phantom Menace, which quickly turns into Trade Federation gassing the Jedi. BUT instead of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan immediately acknowledging the presence of gas, the original boards demonstrated this danger with a pair of dying birds. Just imagine what sort of shit show CG birds monsters these beasts COULD have been! Dragon birds with 9 heads! Birds that squawked unnecessary songs! The green screen sky is the limit!
The Phantom Menace boards are absolutely littered with little embellishments like this. Most likely because this was where the idea for the film started to gel. Actors had yet to be cast, concept art was still rolling out, Anakin wasn't a baby. The storyboards and characters in the second and third films obviously look a lot like the actors who played them. And perhaps this is why we had a lot more fun pilfering through the Phantom Menace pages. Plus dead weirdo birds!
Here's a look at the early concept ideas for the Trade Federation crew members. These aliens are gorgeous monsters. EDIT UPDATE: As commenters pointed out it's a lot easier to see where the droid army look originated from in this early art.
Yes, this guy still exists, but wait there's a whole insane alien physiognomy to Jar Jar Binks that we never got to see:
According to Iain McCaig, Jar Jar's bones were made of elastic. Which means when he went into an atmosphere with heavy gravity or high pressure, he would transform into Jar Jar Binks form of BLOB! The illustrators hoped this bodily reaction would exaggerate his reactions a bit more. But instead the final film went with screaming.
And while we're on the topic of Gungans, there's a lot of Gungan world-building we missed out on. For example, in the underwater city Otoh Gunga the walls were made of water and any person (or fish) could pass through into the hallways. Here's a little scene that shows a Gungan placing a lost, struggling fish back into the wall of sea.
Oh and the Otoh Gunga is totally destroyed, as opposed to being abandoned. Leaving Jar Jar to think all his people had been killed. Darkness!
Other altered characters include young Anakin. Instead of a little kid who runs around bleating "yippeeeee" the storyboard version was a bit more charismatic. Here he is sneaking a kiss from Padme. Iain McCaig explained that he modeled young Anakin after James Robinson, the little William Wallace in Braveheart. Alas, they couldn't cast him as he was too tall by production, and who knows if George Lucas would even want him. Either way, it's kind of nice to get a glimpse of an older Anakin.
Spotted these guys in the boards too; glad to see they made the cut.
The final fight between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn is much different in the boards. For starters, Darth Maul's Dark Side force gave him the powers of astral projection, which, okay, that's new. Plus, it's Qui Gon Jinn who is originally separated from Maul, and he watches in horror as Maul beats the bejeezus out of Obi-Wan. This leads to the calamity of fighting inside a giant droid pit, but the end results are the same.
Another little news gem: Maul could have been a lady. At one point Lucas considered changing Darth Maul into a woman character. Apparently a photo of actress Maggie Cheung hung on the casting wall.
Moving on to Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars Storyboards indicates the Lucas added the droid factory action scene during the film's postproduction. I don't think anyone is surprised by this. The boards were done by Industrial Light and Magic.
If you were disappointed by Padme's absent "slave Leia" moment, just know early art indicated a lot more skin as opposed to the side flap that was ripped off by the Nexu monster.
Additional shot of the much less clothed Padme kicking ass on Geonosis.
Remember that giant, bad ass lizard Obi-Wan rides into battle? That thing had a name and a personality. Here's a illustration of Young Ben using the Force to bond with his delightful ride called Boga.
Here's a new dark twist that was left out of the final film — the death of Padme's bodyguard Typho. In the original film you just see this character waving goodbye, but in the storyboarded version he's gunned down by droidekas. It seems that a lot of characters' violent ends were edited, but hey at least they filmed Shaak Ti's death (which was also included in the storyboards).
And finally the big death in the end. This new storyboard shows a much more violent Anakin, which was cut down because Lucas deemed it excessive. But the illustrators had an even more aggressive plan for Padme in the end. One idea had Padme concealing a knife in her clothes, ready to kill Anakin for his crimes, but upon their kiss she drops the weapon, unable to kill her love.
Overall, the book gave us a new appreciation for what could have been. And now that so much time has passed, the wounds don't hurt when you think about that possibilities. Plus it's exceptionally gorgeous, and you should check it out.
Illustrations and character designs by Ed Natividad, Iain McCaig, Benton Jew, Paul Topolos and Marc Thompson.