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Before Mark Hamill had his car accident, causing Lucas to have to write the whole Hoth storyline to explain Luke's facial injuries, how different was Lucas' planned Empire Strikes Back storyline, at least for the first part of the film? How different was it? Or had that part of the story not yet been imagined by Lucas?

(I note from Wikipedia that Hamill's accident happened on the last day of shooting of A New Hope, so quite possibly Lucas just hadn't planned out the next part of the story, but Lucas always claims to have had the full trilogy planned out in his head from day 1).

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    Just a note that back in the 70s and 80s Lucas supposedly had outlines for a number of trilogies on paper -- Gary Kurtz left after Empire because Lucas trashed the remaining outlines to change it all and Kurtz didn't like the new direction. – Tango Jun 21 '12 at 8:21
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As I had heard it, not the entire Hoth sequence was added to explain Hamill's accident. Rather, simply the Wampa attack was added. On the other hand, IMDB's trivia listing says that even that scene was already planned -- only the "design" of the scene (specific shots and whatnot) were designed around obscuring Luke's face until after the attack.

Supporting this is a very early draft script available, before even Lucas had a chance to touch it. As you say, though, even the first draft likely post-dates the accident, so the Hoth and Wampa plot elements still exist.

Lucas himself may be the only one who knows what he had planned for The Empire Strikes Back before Star Wars completed filming.

  • Thanks for the links! That's a pretty cool early draft synopsis. With just one part an exception: "Darth Vader has pet gargoyles." Hmm... :) – Nick Shaw Jun 21 '12 at 13:49
  • Nick: The pet gargoyles get recycled in one of the novels - the Nogri seem to be an outgrowth of that. – aramis Jun 21 '12 at 19:09

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