Star Wars Has Its Own Marvel's What If...? Series

Marvel's What If…? on Disney+ brings the fun of Marvel Comics' fan-favorite comic book series, exploring alternate takes on classic Marvel stories, to the wider MCU audience. Star Wars fans will have something akin to that in Star Wars Visions. It isn't the same premise, but it does allow anime creators to run wild with their ideas for the Star Wars universe. But before Star Wars Visions, and before Marvel brought What If…? to streaming television, Star Wars had its version of the beloved comic book series. From 2001 to 2004, Dark Horse Comics published three Star Wars Infinities series. Each based on one of the films in the original Star Wars trilogy, the series imagined what could have happened if those films' stories had gone a little differently.

The Infinities tended towards imagining lucky breaks going the other way, like a bad roll of the dice. Often the change most affected Leia and her role in the Skywalker family drama.

Star Wars Infinities A New Hope
(Photo: Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope)

Star Wars Infinities: A New Hope by writer Chris Warner and artist Drew Johnson presented a version of the original film where Luke's torpedo that should have destroyed the Death Star misfired, leaving the base fully operational. The Empire deals a fatal blow to the Rebel Alliance and captures Princess Leia in the ensuing battle. Believing Leia dead and with no Rebellion left to fight in, Luke follows Obi-Wan's instructions and heads to Dagobah, where he completes his Jedi training before reemerging when Leia reappears. Losing both her home and the Rebellion proved too much for her, and she gave in to her hate and fear, becoming a vocal supporter of the Empire and the apprentice Darth Vader sought in Luke. Luke, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Yoda head to Coruscant to face the Sith Lords, leading to a lightsaber duel between Leia and Luke. It's a little weird seeing a handful of heroes pulling off what it took the entire Rebel Alliance to do in the original film, but it's an exciting twist nonetheless.

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back, by Dave Land and Davidé Fabbri, wonders what would have happened if Han Solo's tauntaun died on Hoth before he could rescue Luke. Hearing Luke's final words mentioning Dagobah, Han assumes he's to train to become a Jedi in Luke's stead, becoming the but of many jokes in the process. Yoda eventually disabuses him of this notion and trains Leia instead.

Star Wars Infinities Return of the Jedi
(Photo: Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi)

Star Wars Infinities: Return of the Jedi shows a version of the story where Jabba the Hutt hits C-3PO a little more strongly than he does in the film, knocking the droid out of commission during the Hutt's negotiations with "Boushh." Without the droid to translate, Leia has to give up her disguise early. That means the elaborate rescue plan goes sideways quickly, and that thermal detonator Leia was holding goes off. Boba Fett gets away with Han's frozen body in the resultant chaos.

When they finally rescue Han, a stray blaster bolt that damaged the carbonite encasing him leaves him permanently blind. Leia joins Luke on the second Death Star, and together they're able to turn their father back to the light, but the Emperor escapes. In a bizarre move, rather than wrapping up the story, this volume ends with Anakin Skywalker reappearing as a Jedi wearing an all-white version of his life support suit and ready to join the hunt for his former master. It's as if setting up a new series that never happened.

The Infinities books were released during the same era that the prequel trilogy films were debuting, and each borrows something from those movies. In the first and last series, they're light touches. A New Hope has a single splash page that includes characters from The Phantom Menace, while Return of the Jedi replaces the Rancor in Jabba's Palace with nexu from Attack of the Clones.

Star Wars Infinities The Empire Strikes Back
(Photo: Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back)

The Empire Strikes Back story leans more heavily into the prequel elements. Boba Fett conspicuously appears without his helmet looking a good deal like Temuera Morrison. The climax involves a battle of the mind in which Darth Vader, looking like Hayden Christensen, has to face the Jedi of the past, including Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu. Of all the Infinities stories, this one goes the farthest in reimagining its source material, but it's also the one where fans get to see Leia come into her own as a Jedi.

0comments

I've talked a lot about the plots of these books to offer a sense of exactly how far they go with their versions of the stories, but there's more to them these synopses can capture. They're hardly high art, but they are a wild ride through alternate takes on these classic and iconic stories, each reconfiguring the Skywalker family dynamics in a new way. It's only a shame that we didn't get similar Infinities stories for the prequel and sequel trilogies. Maybe Marvel can work on fixing that.

Star Wars Infinities is available to read digitally, including via Marvel Unlimited. It is also available in Marvel's Epic Collection format alongside The Star Wars, a comic book adaptation of George Lucas's first Star Wars script.