A frequent theme when discussions of the prequels come up is that there is too much stuff. Like four different shiny silver spaceships in the space of three movies. Or three basically interchangeable henchmen: Darth Maul, Count Dooku, and General Grievous. I have a fix for that, that came out of an old email conversation with Mike.
- In Episode I, General DooMaulku is an apparently good man on Padme’s staff (just like Palpatine is an apparently good man). It would make sense for Palpatine’s apprentice to be from Naboo since Palpatine is from Naboo himself. Padme leaves him in charge when she flees, but he skips town and trails her to Tatooine, Coruscant, and Naboo, doing all the things we saw Darth Maul doing. When the blast doors open and Duel of the Fates comes on, there is General DooMaulku in his black robes, finally revealed as a Sith. He fights the Jedi, kills Qui-Gon, and is apparently fatally wounded by Obi-Wan (but secretly escapes).
- In Episode II, imagine Obi-Wan’s shock when he finds the partially rebuilt General DooMaulku leading the Separatists on Geonosis. GD performs Dooku’s role in this movie with minimal rewriting.
- In Episode III, Dooku doesn’t have much to do besides get killed. General DooMaulku fights Anakin in the observation tower, and blows out the window and escapes there, fleeing to the bridge. When Anakin and Obi-Wan get to the bridge, they face him again, but again he escapes. From then on, he plays out General Grievous’s role as seen in RotS. Before dying, he reveals to Obi-Wan that he was Palpatine’s apprenctice, but that Palpatine betrayed him in favor of Anakin. Now armed with the knowledge that Palpatine is a Sith Lord and is trying to seduce Anakin, Obi-Wan races back to Coruscant, only to find that he is too late (just as in the movie as filmed).
The image of the cyborged Darth Maul is from Aaron McBride’s story “Old Wounds” from the Star Wars: Visionaries comic book. That appearance was non-canonical, but the rebuilt Maul showed up in-canon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
This all came up because Mike pointed me to these videos, which are well worth watching (but have some NSFW langauge):
What if Star Wars: Episode I was good?
What if Star Wars: Episode II were good?
That guy independently came up with the idea of keeping Darth Maul alive to have a good recurring villain, but he retains Dooku and makes him more interesting. He also suggests just changing the name of the planet Naboo to Alderaan, which Mike described in an email as “SO obvious that one wonders not just how Lucas didn’t think of doing this, but how he DID think of NOT doing it.”
That got me thinking about other ways to make the prequels mean more by proliferating less. Which led to this, again stolen from email:
Back when I argued that Ep II should have been set mostly on Tatooine, not Geonosis. So how’s this: all the stuff that happens in Geonosis in Ep II actually happens on Tatooine, including the big climactic battles. Replace the Geonosians with either Jawas or, more likely, Sandpeople. Having the big-ass fights on Tatooine explains why there is enough junk littering the desert to support a whole species of nomadic scavengers twenty years later.
The Jawa sandcrawlers are repurposed Republic troop transports. In Ep II we’d see them all pretty in Republic red, charging into battle alongside the Juggernauts/Clone Turbo Tanks from Ep III. Then in ANH we’d see them all old-ass and rusted.
Early ESB concept for an Imperial snow tank; It looks like a smaller version of an armed sandcrawler to me.
Regarding the specific decision to move the Clone Turbo Tank up from Ep III to Ep II: it would make more sense in terms of the evolution of weaponry. As it is, we see the proto-AT-AT six-legged AT-TEs in Ep II, then take a step back from walkers to rollers with the Clone Turbo Tank in Ep III. Much better to have the rollers in Ep II, then in Ep III the first-gen walkers could basically be Clone Turbo Tanks with legs. The Turbo Tanks are close enough to AT-ATs in geometry that you could just make longer and fewer legs to get from the Ep III six-legged version to the ESB four-legged version.
So, there are some imagined fixes that I’ll never see. But it’s a fun exercise.