Long, long, ago, in like the ’70s, a guy named George had an idea. He was going to make a Flash Gordon-esque space opera, starring a bunch of people no one had ever heard of (with an exception or two), complete with actors in rubber suits pretending to be aliens and a bunch of green-screen space battles. Just about everyone thought he was crazy, except for the millions of people who lined up to see Star Wars when it finally reached the theaters in 1977.
Today, Star Wars is one of the top-grossing movie franchises of all time, and now it’s a Disney franchise, too, which either means it has infinite creative potential and access to infinite piles of cash, or it has descended into a chasm of soul-selling shame and betrayal. Depending who you ask. One thing most fans (and former fans) can agree on is this: There are a lot of things we thought we knew about Star Wars that we’ve been getting wrong. Except for that stuff about Stormtroopers having terrible aim. They really suck at shooting.
If things had not gone terribly, terribly wrong, Lucas would have made 12 films
This often repeated legend is mostly based on the misconception that George Lucas was some sort of cinematic prophet, who knew from Day One that A New Hope would be a hit and that there would be both the means and the demand to continue the franchise for at least a half a century. That all mostly happened, but Lucas had no way of knowing it.
The original plan was actually to make one film. Because that was the rational approach — make one film, see how it goes. But then the first film was a crazy success, so Lucas decided to turn the story into a trilogy. Beyond that, no one is really sure what was in his head. National Post says he told Mark Hamill back in 1976 that he planned to make four trilogies. But after he finished the tragically wretched prequel series, he famously said "There will definitely be no Episodes VII-IX."
Even that wasn’t the final word, though. In The Secret History of Star Wars, Lucas is said to have envisioned a sequel trilogy beyond Return of the Jedi, and in The Art of the Last Jedi, the author says Luke’s hermit storyline was actually Lucas’ idea. So even though Lucas has handed the franchise over to Disney, it’s clear that his influence will live on, no matter how many movies are eventually made.
Darth Vader’s name is a hint about Luke’s parentage
Everyone knows the real protagonist of Star Wars is Darth Vader — that’s made pretty explicitly clear in the prequels, where we follow Anakin Skywalker on his painfully acted journey from slave to Dark Lord.
Even if you never realized that Darth Vader is the antihero star of the entire franchise, there’s no question the iconic character is surrounded by some pretty rich mythology. We now know all that stuff about Darth Vader falling into lava was totally true, but the mythology behind his name is based on misconceptions, or maybe even lies. According to In a Far Away Galaxy, Lucas himself said Darth Vader’s name came from the Dutch "Vader," meaning "father." "Darth" was simply a variation of "dark," which makes way more sense than "donker," which is the Dutch word for "dark." Imagine a dark lord called Donker Vader.
Anyway, the idea that Darth Vader’s name means "dark father" and therefore alludes to Luke’s parentage is not very credible when you consider that Lucas didn’t decide Darth Vader was actually going to be Luke’s dad until the second draft of The Empire Strikes Back. We still don’t know, though, if Lucas actually did pick "Vader" because it meant "father," but if he did it certainly wasn’t a way to hint at the big reveal to come because Lucas didn’t know there was even going to be a big reveal.
The wampa scene in Empire Strikes Back was added because of a car accident
The Empire Strikes back opens with Luke getting his butt handed to him by a wampa, which scratches his face, drags him off to its icy lair, and hangs him upside-down. Legend says this scene was really just a handy way to let the world know why Luke’s face was all messed up.
According to Business Insider, Hamill got into a car accident in January 1977, before anyone really knew who he was. The accident damaged his left cheekbone and messed up his nose badly enough that doctors had to repair it with cartilage from his ear. So his face didn’t really look the same in The Empire Strikes Back. But Lucas says the wampa scene wasn’t written expressly for the purpose of explaining Luke’s injuries: "My feeling was some time had passed, they’ve been in the Rebellion fighting, that kind of thing, so the change was justifiable." He then goes on to say that the wampa scene helped, but wasn’t written explicitly to explain the injuries. Instead, it was a typical movie-making device — they just wanted to open the film with some suspense.
Carrie Fisher remembered that the scene was altered to account for Luke’s injuries, but that basically just confirms what Lucas said — the scene was already there, but the face injury was added to help viewers understand the origins of Skywalker’s scars.
That legendary C-3PO trading card is worth a fortune
Trading cards can be a lucrative hobby, if only you can get your hands on that super-rare Babe Ruth card, or the Joe Doyle error, or the well-endowed C-3PO. Wait, what?
One of the most legendary trading cards of all time is card #207 from the 1978 Topps Star Wars collection. Somehow, the card made it all the way to production with an anomaly. In the card’s original run, it appears that C-3PO has a very large, um, body part that droids are not supposed to have. According to the legend, #207 was the work of a disgruntled employee who added the appendage just before the production run, either to stick it to his employer or achieve international fame as the guy who finally gave C-3PO a reason to live. But according to Snopes, the original photo that was used to make the card also contains the anomaly, so it’s more likely to be an accident — a piece of the costume that fell just as the photo was shot, perhaps.
The rest of the legend has to do with the card’s value — the "obscene" version is said to be more valuable, but that’s not true, simply because there were just as many of those cards printed as any other card in the set. So if you’re lucky enough to own a C-3PO Codpiece Edition, you’ve got a great conversation piece, but sadly, you can’t trade it for a couple million.
Mark Hamill was sleeping on someone’s couch when he found out about the Luke Skywalker role
Rags to riches stories make us happy, mostly because deep down inside we’d all really like to believe that our own rags will one day be riches. And while it’s true that no one had really heard of Mark Hamill before Star Wars, he wasn’t the starving artist the rumors have always said he was.
One favorite tale says Hamill was staying with Robert Englund (who would later go on to become the legendary Freddy Krueger) when Englund told him about the Luke Skywalker role.
You can’t blame Englund for wanting to take credit for the genesis of Luke Skywalker, especially since he himself had tried and failed to land the Han Solo part. But according to We Got this Covered, Hamill later said that Englund was just one of several actors who told him about the role, and by then his agent had already set up an audition. What’s more, Hamill called the idea that he’d been sleeping on Englund’s couch at the time "nonsense," since it was his sixth year as an actor and he was by that time earning enough money for his own apartment. Hey there, big spender!
I am your father, but don’t quote me on that
Just about every meme, joke, T-shirt, Star Wars-inspired television commercial, and actual memories of the actual movie has Darth Vader uttering the words, "Luke. I am your father." This is one of cinematic history’s most-quoted lines, something we all instantly recognize when we hear it, and yet all these years we’ve all been getting it wrong.
Darth Vader does not say "Luke, I am your father." He says, "No. I am your father." But let’s face it, "No. I am your father" could use just a tad more context and it would make for a seriously lame meme, which is precisely why we don’t remember it that way.
Here’s how it really went down. Darth Vader says, "Obi Wan never told you what happened to your father." Luke says, "He told me enough. He told me you killed him." And Vader says, "No. I am your father." And that’s only in the version we’ve seen — what’s even weirder is that the original utterance was probably "Obi Wan killed your father." That was the line that was voiced by David Prowse, the guy in the Darth Vader suit. It was dubbed over with the "I am your father" line after the scene was shot so fewer people knew the big plot twist. (Mark Hamill was told ahead of time so he could react properly.)
So yeah, now you can’t go around saying "Luke, I am your father" to your friend Luke anymore because it’s a misquote. Your friend Luke is probably gonna be really upset about that.
Harrison Ford’s improvisation
Another iconic line from The Empire Strikes Back is Han Solo’s goodbye to Princess Leia. She says "I love you," and he says "I know." It’s about as Han Soloish as any line ever spoken by Harrison Ford during the trilogy, and yet it’s not in the script. Somehow, this line inspired a legend — Harrison Ford improvised it while the cameras were rolling, and everyone marveled at its brilliance. But like all legends, the true story this is based on is way more boring than what we’ve been believing.
It is true that Harrison Ford wrote the line. According to CBR, in the original script, Leia professes her love, and then Han says, "Just remember that, ’cause I’ll be back." Now, Terminator wouldn’t hit theaters for another four years, and cinematic history would be all cockeyed if Han Solo became famous for saying "I’ll be back." Fortunately for cinematic history, Ford didn’t think the line was quite right, so he suggested "I know" to director Irvin Kershner — but it was well in advance of the actual shoot. The only person who didn’t seem sure about the whole "I know" thing was George Lucas, who decided to shoot both versions of the scene and then play them for a test audience. The test audience reportedly liked the "I know" scene so much that Lucas didn’t even bother to test the other one.
If you strike me down, I shall no longer have to say these stupid lines
Before Star Wars, Alec Guinness was best known for movies like Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and Lawrence of Arabia. So his presence in an epic space opera is sort of odd, especially since pre-Star Wars science fiction mostly involved corny Martian invasions and really lousy special effects. (Looking at you, Star Trek.) Did Alec Guinness want to be remembered as the robed hermit who said the words, "Use the Force, Luke," or as Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai? It’s okay, you can admit it. You’ve never heard of that character or that movie, have you?
Anyway, according to Legends Revealed, there was a long-standing rumor that Guinness disliked the film so much that he asked for his character to be killed off. Guinness did sort of confirm the rumor back in 1999, when he remembered telling Lucas that Obi Wan’s death would make him a stronger character, adding that he "couldn’t go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines."
In fact, Obi Wan did survive the first few drafts of the script, but by the fourth his fate had already been decided. And at that time Alec Guinness still hadn’t officially signed on to play the character. So just based on dates, we know this legend isn’t true either — no matter what Alec Guinness himself wanted us to believe.
Jar Jar Binks, the dark and super-annoying Sith lord
Perhaps no other Star Wars character was as despised as Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar was supposed to be a good guy, yet the collective hatred for his character dwarfs anything anyone ever felt for Watto, Boss Nass, or those annoying pod racer announcers whose names we can’t remember. So why was this character so very, very detestable? There can be only one reason: He was evil.
This actually seems so plausible that one Reddit user came up with a theory that Jar Jar was actually intended to be a villain, and the internet went, "Oh YEAH that seems like it could be true."
According to Forbes, the theory even reached the ears of George Lucas, who unsurprisingly said fans "shouldn’t get too excited," so from that we can pretty much glean that it’s false. Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, though, thinks the theory might make a weird kind of sense. "There’s a lot about it that’s true," he said. "There are some things that are not true. Could Jar Jar have evolved into that? I think the answer is yes."
Now it’s probably worth mentioning that Ahmed Best was a little, shall we say, embattled over his much-hated role, and most actors with a similar legacy would probably take some comfort in believing that their hated character was actually just evil — after all, most of us would rather be hated for our evil deeds than our annoying personalities, right?