Throughout the course of making a movie, there are a huge amount of changes that the story will undergo for a variety of reasons. The changes could be the result of budgetary restraints, a filmmaker not enjoying how a scene plays out in person versus on the page, or maybe the producers don't enjoy the way the film has been edited together. The same can be said of the creature design of characters, including the Star Wars saga.
When George Lucas was originally pitching his idea of a sci-fi fantasy film set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, he didn't want to present just the story, so he tapped artist Ralph McQuarrie to help bring his ideas to life. These images, combined with Lucas' enthusiastic sales pitch, helped the film get made, but when it came time to shoot, some alterations were made from McQuarrie's designs to what we saw on screen.
Even after the success of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas was forced with the massive alteration of the Forest Moon of Endor being inhabited by Ewoks instead of his plans to cover it in Wookiees.
Many of Lucas' creations are immediately recognizable in their final form, but when looking at these characters' original concepts, it's hard to believe we ever ended up with what was on screen.
Scroll down to see some of the early designs of the saga's most iconic characters!
With all of the bizarre species of alien seen in Star Wars, one of the most well-known sources of inspiration for one of the main characters is Chewbacca.
On multiple occasions, Lucas has revealed that he was once driving with his dog in the passenger seat when he looked over and thought of how fun it would be to have a big, furry co-pilot.
Based on McQuarrie's original design for the character, Chewbacca does look big and he does look furry, but he also looks far more bizarre and alien than what we ended up seeing in the movie.
Although this design wasn't used for Chewbacca, the image is still compelling, with Star Wars Rebels reviving the concept for the character Zeb.
With Yoda being conceived as an all-powerful Jedi Master, the idea of wisdom became integral to the character.
Rather than lean into the more alien aspects of the character, the initial design for Yoda was far more in the world of fantasy than science fiction, finding a balance somewhere between David the Gnome and Gandalf the Grey.
Later versions of the character are reportedly based on a combination of Albert Einstein and makeup designer Stuart Freeborn, who worked on creating the Yoda character. Freeborn, being an older gentleman himself, modeled the character's scrunched face and pointy ears after himself, with a bit of Einstein thrown in to convey wisdom.
Young Han Solo
Luckily, there was never any question about Han Solo's first appearance in Star Wars, but when George Lucas was writing Revenge of the Sith, he was hoping to conclude his prequel trilogy with another connection to the original trilogy by including a young Han Solo. While the image of the young character isn't inherently bizarre, the rumored plans of how Han would be incorporated make you thankful it never happened.
According to WhatCulture, Lucas originally planned to show a young Han on the planet of Kashyyyk where Chewbacca would be caring for the child. Additionally, one scene in the script included a young Han discovering a transmitter that ended up aiding the Rebels in the discovery of General Grievous' location, which would have been all sorts of confusing, considering Han's stance on the Rebellion in the original trilogy.
When artist Ian McCaig was tasked with creating the terrifying Sith Lord Darth Maul for The Phantom Menace, Lucas' reported instructions were for him to draw his "worst nightmare."
Following through on that vague instruction, McCaig drew a creature that resembled a zombie-like character that was covered in red ribbon. With Lucas clearly not being fully entirely happy with McCaig's first pass at the character, the artist then attempted a version using another one of his worst fears: clowns.
According to FilmSketchr, the artist took reference photos of people he knew and began layering a variety of shapes and designs over their faces, eventually settling on a series of red and black patterns and a few horns to make the horrifying character.
Jabba The Hutt
Developing the look of the nefarious gangster Jabba the Hutt was clearly a difficult process, with the character undergoing many different iterations, including the one seen below.
What makes Jabba's conceptual evolution so fascinating is that the final design Lucas settled on when making Star Wars was just a stocky human in a big fur coat, filming a scene with Han Solo that followed Greedo's demise. The scene was scrapped and Jabba became a massive slug-like creature for Return of the Jedi, but when Lucas decided to release Special Editions of the original trilogy, he used computer magic to insert a CGI Jabba over the original actor to include the deleted scene.
Much like the original design of Chewbacca being recycled for Rebels, so was the below image of Jabba for another smuggler in the animated series.