I’ve got to admit, despite its massive box-office success, I was very disappointed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I won’t go into why, because enough has been written about its mediocre script, flagrant plot-holes and lack of originality by better critics than I. However I do feel that better justice could have been served to these characters and the universe Star Wars is set in, with a different, more contemporary story concept, and a great opportunity has been missed.
It is of course relatively easy to say why you don’t like something, but much, much harder to suggest what you would have done instead. So here’s my humble attempt at an alternative story concept for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
It is not a complete script, but just an overall synopsis of a main plotline. It could do with fleshing out and the addition of subplots, but the main themes should be obvious. It does not rely on any sources or Star Wars canon outside of the original three movies (episodes 4, 5 and 6), and takes inspiration from some of the newer characters introduced in the latest blockbuster (so there may be some spoilers within if you haven’t seen the latest movie).
However it primarily tries to pick up on where we left the original characters and this world 32 years ago. How things have changed, what has happened to those characters and the greatest new threat to galactic peace to emerge since the Empire was defeated all those years ago.
Please do let me know what you think of it!
Star Wars: The Force Awakens –
30 years after the defeat of Emperor Palpatine and the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance has long-since become The Alliance – a loose Federation of cooperative governance across a largely peaceful coalition of planetary systems.
Luke Skywalker spent the years searching for any remaining Jedi, or any beings that displayed the influence of The Force, eventually creating a Jedi Temple from an old army base on Mount Yoda on Dagobah, where he and his students could practice the ancient traditions of the Force.
After a period in Government, Leia retired to rejoin Han Solo who, along with Chewbacca, opened a Space Dock specialising in repairing and modifying starships. They had a son, Ben, and realising the Force was strong within him, they sent him to train with Luke. However five years ago Ben went missing, and Han and Leia have been searching for him since.
Meanwhile the galaxy has been subjected to sporadic but isolated acts of terrorism by a group claiming to be the remnants of The Sith, calling themselves the Disciples of Vader. They are being led by a new Dark Lord, Darth Iodius and his main lieutenant, Kylo Ren.
We open at Mos Eisley Cantina – which has changed little apart from a few additions to the decor and a particular line of branded merchandise.
A group of figures in dark cloaks, the faces mostly hidden by heavy hoods walks in, and take up one of the tables scaring other patrons away. One of them approaches the bar. It’s the same bar keeper, he is alarmed but tries to keep his cool, pouring the new arrival a drink.
The hooded figure thanks him, but does not drink, and asks if this is the famous tavern of legend where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo began the journeys that would ultimately see them lead a victory over the Galactic Empire.
The barkeep proudly confirms it is. Hands him a couple of animated action figurines of Luke and Han, points to some of the memorabilia on the wall, including Luke’s Speeder dangling from the ceiling, a replica Millennium Falcon, and the stuffed arm that Obi Wan Kenobi cut off the interloper that attempted to draw Luke into a fight.
The hooded figure is playing with the figurine of Han Solo. The Barkeep warns him to be careful, jokingly offering: ‘you break it you buy it pal!’. The hooded figure, lifts his hood now, he is Kylo Ren but is wearing a mask that is similar in design and style to Darth Vader’s mask. He replies, somewhat grimly – ‘then I guess I’m buying the whole tavern.’
In the manner of Darth Vader he brings up his gloved hand in a pinching motion and chokes the bar tender to death.
He gestures to his men and they unleash a massacre upon everyone in the bar using red light sabers, blasters and smart bombs. They also lower their hoods, and all are wearing black masks similarly to Kylo Ren’s but simplified further from the Darth Vader original.
Kylo Ren exits the Catina still clutching the Han Solo and Luke Skywalker dolls and looking down at them. He then looks up and around him. ‘Actually I guess I’m buying the whole of Mos Eisley.’ We zoom back to see that the entire city is being raised to the ground in a murderous rampage by legions of Dark Cloaks.
Unlike the previous Stormtroopers, these are not disciplined and methodical unthinking soldiers just carrying out orders. There is a sense that these are ruthless killers emboldened by the Dark Side of the Force and revelling in the art of killing and destruction, some of them are even using telekinesis.
As Kylo Ren walks back to his transport, he tosses the Luke figurine to the floor, keeping the Han Solo doll. As we zoom in and see the still animated Luke doll looking anxious and excited we cut to a new scene.
We zoom back from the same excited face, but this time it’s the real and much older Luke of today, and his excitement is far more tempered. In fact we realise that he is merely instructing from behind a glass window, as a female in the exercise arena, wearing a blind over her eyes, is fighting off attacks from multiple miniature flying Seeker Droids with a light saber.
She is incredibly skilled and athletic. But at one point she stops still and switches off her light saber. All the Droids move in and fire at once, but she holds out her hands and manages to freeze all the bolts. Then she ducks down and releases them, the bolts end up hitting the droids on the opposite sides. They are stunned and apparently disorientated. But the girl is not done yet.
We see Luke’s gaze change from pride to annoyance as he mouths the words, ‘Don’t do it’. But the girl screams, switches her light saber back on and in a single sweep arc, cuts through every droid, destroying it them all completely.
Luke storms into the arena shouting: ‘What’s the matter with you Rey, how many times have I told you, these things aren’t cheap or easy to come by and I have about 800 other Padawans that would also like to be able to use them.’
The girl, who is clearly ecstatic and delighted with her performance, tries to apologise half-heartedly: ‘Sorry dad… I mean Master Luke,’ she quickly corrects herself after yet another glare from Luke (she is obviously his daughter, but has been told not to refer to him as her father). ‘I just got a little carried away!’
Luke suddenly seems to grimace and stumble. Rey quickly catches him and steadies him. He regains composure almost immediately, but Rey is more apologetic now. ‘Oh I really am sorry, look I’ll make sure we get some more, and maybe I can fix some of these – especially as I’ve managed to fix most of the rest of the systems on this old army base. Don’t worry…’
Luke moves away: ‘No, it’s not that. I just felt a disturbance in the Force. Something terrible has been done in the name of the Force, and I think it has happened in a place I once knew.’ He pauses. ‘And by someone who…’ He stops.
Rey asks who, but Luke changes the subject. He softens and warns her that it’s not so much the sliced mini droids he is worried about it, but her ability to contain and control the Force within her, which is clearly exceptionally strong.
Rey starts to protest… But Luke silences her and walks off.
We cut to a blazing blaster battle. Two figures are fleeing through crowded streets in a city on another planet, pushing over stalls and causing chaos to slow down their pursuers. They stumble into a hanger where a sleek new spaceship is awaiting them.
They are Han and Leia. She speaks into a com device, C3PO responds. She tells him to lower the ramp so they can get in and to start up the engines. A small alien manages to catch up with them as the ramp is closing, Han raises his blaster, but suddenly a box flies across the hanger and knocks the alien off the ramp.
Han looks quizzically at Leia who grins and winks at him. They rush into the ship and order the computers to get them out of there as fast as possible. They are tired, but also revelling in the rush, almost giggling like school kids.
‘I am definitely getting too old for this!’ says Han. ‘Nonsense,’ Leia replies it was just like old times. Then she adds: ‘How is it that you still owe money to just about every powerful good-for-nothing across the galaxy.’
‘Well it was a long time ago, I didn’t realise his kind had such long memories.’ He replies. She retorts: ‘and this is the guy you thought could help us find our son?’ He replies that not much is able to move in this particular system without said character knowing about.
Suddenly Leia is very quiet. Han’s expression changes to concern. ‘Hey, Princess, don’t worry, we’ll find him.’
‘No, it’s not that Han.’ She doesn’t say anything but sits down at a monitor and calls up The Alliance newsfeed. She is shocked by the reports. In addition to the Tatooine, there is another newer report. It shows the legendary Cloud City of Bespin in flames.
Han is on the other screen and hasn’t seen this yet. He calls to Leia – ‘there’s a message from Luke, he wants us to see him urgently.’ She turns, ‘you’d better see this first’. His face registers the horror of what he sees on the screen.
Then they both look at each and speak together in foreboding: ‘The Ewoks’. He tells the ships computer to head home at maximum speed. ‘Home?’ asks Leia. ‘Yeah well it’s on the way to Endor, and I have a feeling that we’re going to need speed, firepower and a lot of luck. We need HER.’ Leia just nods.
Then Han turns to the comms computer to try and get a signal to Luke.
Luke’s communicator is buzzing, but he is too busy to answer. He is presently surrounded by a senior security official from the Alliance. He is in uniform but not in amour, around him are Stormtroopers. When the Alliance took power, they recruited all the remaining storm trooper battalions as they were of course well-trained, ready and obedient soldiers.
He is explaining that the Alliance defence force has taken up a perimeter around Luke’s planet. Having followed the activities of the Disciples of Darth, it didn’t take long for them to notice that the latest attacks were focussed on areas associated with the rebellions heroes, Luke, Leia and Han Solo.
He explains that the cordon is for the protection of the Jedi temple and its inhabitants. Luke tells him that he has no idea what he is dealing with, and confirms that he recognises this as no less than an illegal house arrest.
Finn admits that the governing council is afraid of Luke and his students. They have no idea what they are capable of, they only know of the myths and stories.
Public opinion too has turned against the all forms of the Force, as the terrorists attacks have clearly been carried out by people with abilities beyond the norm and associated with the Force. They always left enough eye-witnesses after the attacks to make sure people would recount what they had seen.
Luke argues that he and his students cannot be held responsible for the actions of those influenced by the Dark Side of the Force, but Finn explains that it makes no difference to the council or the galaxy’s subjects now. The Force was the Force, and people look at it, and everyone associated with it, with extreme distrust and suspicion.
Everyone wants any individuals and beings that they knew to be influenced by the Force to be kept confined and contained somewhere, even if they were subjects of The Alliance. Luke is outraged, seems to close his eyes in frustration, but is actually sending a message to Rey.
She understands and quietly slips away in the crowd that has gathered. She heads round the back of the temple, running through some aisles shouting into a com: ‘Is it ready?’ In reply comes the familiar chirps and beeps of R2 D2.
She bursts into a small dark hall, and slams on a button on the wall. The ceiling panels slide open and the light streaks through spotlighting one solitary ship – it is Luke Skywalker’s Incom T-65 X-wing StarFighter. R2 D2 is already starting up its systems, whilst Rey dons the flight suit and helmet.
They take off. Finn gets a message that a craft is trying to leave the Temple. He looks angrily at Luke, who returns his gaze with mock astonishment as if he knows nothing. This later changes to anxiety as Finn orders the craft be brought down – not blasted out of the sky though, but just forced down without harming the pilot.
Three X-Wings arrive to tackle Rey, warning her to land immediately. She grins, switches off all systems and barrel rolls to the ground as if crashing. Startled, the other X Wings fly down after her. At the last minute, she restarts and charges through the middle of the formation. One of the other fighters is thrown into a spin, another barely avoids crashing and in fact thuds to the ground. The third manages to gather itself and pursues Rey.
She heads straight into space and instead of flying away from the big Alliance lead ship, she flies straight at it. The lead ship is actually a recommissioned Star Destroyer. It was part of the Imperial fleet, and Alliance captured it and whatever remained of the fleet. These are now the most powerful ships in the galaxy, although The Alliance only uses them for defence and to maintain peace.
The two X-Wings take avoiding action, especially as the pursuing X-Wing is firing at Rey. He is ordered to stop firing. Rey encircles the main ship in a death-defying manoeuvre, but as the pursuing ship pulls in from under the main ship he can no longer see Rey. He reports back that she has disappeared, she must have gone to hyperspeed.
He is ordered to return. We zoom back and see the Rey had landed her X-Wing on the main ship, in a manner reminiscent of Han Solo. She turns to R2 D2. How long before the hyper speed drive is fixed? He says he is working on it.
Leia is shouting the screen: ‘c’mon Lando, he is my brother!’ Lando Calrissian is a senator now with The Alliance. He has contacted Leia to tell her what has happened and that Luke is under ‘house arrest’. He says he had no choice. The council is looking for Han and Leia, because of the recent events. He tells them they need to disappear till this all blows over.
She turns off the transmission in despair as Han turns back from the cockpit, the ship is landing, ‘we’re home’.
They are back at Solo’s Space Dock. As they disembark, Chewy runs out to great them, but protesting at the same time. ‘I know they’ll come looking for us here, but I had to come back,’ replies Han, ‘I have a bad feeling about what’s happening and I need her. I need you too.’
Chewy growls and beckons him and Leia. They go to the other hanger where the Millennium Falcon is parked. Unlike in the original movies though, it’s perfectly restored and absolutely pristine. There also appear to be some improvements and changes. There’s a sleekness and attitude to it, that’s more confident than ever. Clearly a lot of time and energy has been invested on the ship.
Han just stands and admires the Falcon for a few moments, as do we the audience. Leia just grins and walks past towards it, muttering ‘heap of junk!’ And then turns: ‘c’mon! We’ve got to get to Endor!’
Kylo Ren is in discussion with a hologram of Darth Iodius, and reports that everything is proceeding exactly to plan. The Dark Lord confirms that he has foreseen victory in phase one. ‘We will have revenge and we will have the means to begin restoring our rightful heritage as rulers of this galaxy.’
He tells him to proceed to Endor, but to not be too swift.
Planet Endor – the Ewok settlements. They’re having a council meeting. There are drawings, depictions and statues of C3 P0 all around – remember they thought him Godlike. They’ve had a holographic transmission from him that they are going to be attacked. They are preparing plans – like rigging the trees, disguises, traps, just as they did to defeat the storm troopers.
But they are worried. We see baby Ewoks crying.
On board the Millenium Falcon, C3 P0 reports on the Ewoks, but Han and Leia are concerned that the little creatures will be massacred. They have to get there in time.
Chewy cries from the cockpit that there is a problem in one of the conduits, Han says he’ll go back and check. Walking through the hall, he notices one of the floor panels has been moved. He gets the others and opens the panel to find the Alliance’s best agent, Poe Dameron, hiding there. He has been transmitting everything. They pull him out, shove him against the bulkhead and stare at him. Nobody says anything. Finally Poe speaks: ‘so I speak first, or you speak, or what are we doing?’
Han speaks: ‘who are you and what are you doing on my ship?’
Poe replies simply and truthfully: ‘well Sir, General, er… I’m Poe Dameron, I’m a special agent of The Alliance, I was spying on Chewbacca and waiting for you and er… Senator Organa. I’ve reported back to HQ and told them of your plans and your destination.’
They decide to keep on board, and they figure that it’s just as well, because the Ewoks could do with all the help they can get.
When the attack comes, it’s in the Ewoks own style. The Disciples of Vader suddenly all appear at once from the bushes, and start blasting and hacking away. They are all on foot, so it’s a close-quarters hand-to-hand battle. The Ewoks are formidable but they don’t stand a chance.
Almost immediately the Falcon arrives. It causes confusion and unsettles the attackers, but Han soon realises he can’t do much from the air because of the thick foliage. Plus the canons of the Falcon aren’t precise enough to engage the Dark Cloaks, especially as they’re happy to use the Ewoks as human shields.
The battle will have to be ground-based. They fire down some smoke bombs to give the Ewoks a chance. It causes thick dense smoke, but the Ewoks can see better due to their jewel-like eyes, it slows down the rampage.
During the journey, Poe has convinced Han to trust him and that he will help fight the Terrorists, that is his real job after all.
Han has a few speeder bikes on board. He convinces Chewy to stay on board, armed to the teeth he, Leia and Poe head out from the landed Falcon back to the Ewok battlefield, and start picking out the Dark Cloaks. They are able to take them by surprise as they have infra-red vision googles, and the speed and agility of the bikes gives them an advantage.
One of the Dark Cloaks stops, tosses away the Ewok he was about the rip with his red lightsaber and its cross blades. He has sensed the presence of someone. He turns and strides confidently towards one of the speeders. Through the clearing fog, Leia sees the figure in front of her and charges directly at him.
It is Kylo Ren, of course, he stands firm and puts a hand out. He manages to flip over the bike. Leia falls to the ground and the bike crashes into a tree. Han sees the explosion from a distance and heads for it in alarm.
Leia gets up. Her face is full of anguish and astonishment: ‘No!’ She says. She has not drawn her weapon, instead just looks helplessly at the approaching figure. She has realised that it is her son.
‘How could you? Stop this, stop this madness at once,’ she commands. She puts her hands out and sends the Force through them. This actually does stop Kylo Ren briefly from advancing towards her, and he falters slightly, as we realise that Leia too has developed abilities of the Force, just as Luke had promised her she would in time. She has kept them a secret.
However Kylo Ren is far stronger and frees himself. ‘That is impressive mother, imagine what more you could have been if you had followed your father to the Dark Side!’ He tells her that he hates her, and as proof of his loyalty to his Dark Lord, he will kill her. He also reveals that he will kill Luke as revenge for killing Darth Vader.
She pleads that he didn’t kill him. Darth Vader died saving Luke. But Kylo Ren wont’ believe it. He lunges at her with the saber, but is stopped by a blue saber. It is Rey who has just arrived, in search of Han and Leia and having intercepted The Alliance communications. They engage in fierce battle.
He taunts his cousin. Calling her to join him. Acknowledging that the Force is strong within her, but that she needs to join him to fulfil her potential and her destiny. He tries to convince her, as they battle that he can feel the darkness and anger in her. She’s only a short step away.
He eventually beats her to the ground, offers her one last chance to join him, then swings his lightsaber. Leia screams ‘No!’, but we don’t know if she is screaming at Kylo Ren or at Han who rushes past her and blasts at Kylo Ren – obviously not knowing that it’s his son.
Kylo loses his entire left shoulder to the blast, but still manages to swing the light saber and knock the bike down. Han Falls, but is back up, Leia runs and grabs his blaster, ‘it’s Ben!’ she tells him.
Han drops the blaster but turns on Kylo Ren as an angry father. They brawl, Kylo raises his light saber in threat, Han lunges at him and they stumble down a long steep gully, out of sight of the others, struggling and fighting as they do. Han is screaming at him to stop following the dark side, but Kylo is dismissing him as someone who just doesn’t know the power of the Force.
As they get to the bottom, we realise with horror that Kylo Ren has finally impaled Han with the light saber. Han tries to strangle Kylo Ren, with his last gasp. He would kill his own son if he knew he had turned evil.
Kylo Ren, heavily injured himself, starts to get up, but is hit with another blast and falls to the ground. It’s from Poe. He jumps off his bike and runs to Han Solo, he’s genuinely horrified and saddened to see the legendary general dead. He puts him over his shoulder and rides the bike back up the steep hill.
When he gets there they’re all in shock to see Han is dead.
By now the battle has turned. The Ewoks had used the smoke to their advantage, but as that started to clear, a battalion of stormtroopers arrives under the personal command of Finn. The Dark Cloaks retreat.
We see the Dark Lord in his chamber talking to one of the Dark Cloaks via hologram.
‘It is just as I planned. Proceed with the next phase, and bring Kylo Ren to me, he breaths still.’
It’s tragic and sad victory particularly for Leia and Chewy, as they bury Han Solo. There’s only a skeleton crew on The Alliance main ship – the Star Destroyer – as everyone has gone down to honour the fallen hero of the Rebellion. Leia gives a moving tribute to him. Chewy wails.
As the crew of the Destroyer watch proceedings on their monitors, Ninja like, the Disciples of Vader somehow storm the Star Destroyer. They quickly and silently kill everyone on board and take over the ship. This, in fact, was their real objective all along.
We end the film realising that things are looking dire for The Alliance and our heroic band. The terrorists of the Dark Lord have stolen one of the deadliest vessels in the galaxy.
The only power that might be able to defeat them now is Luke and his students. However that is very likely where they’re taking the Star Destroyer, in order to wipe him and the temple out completely. Without the Jedi, the Disciples of Vader will be unstoppable.
Leia decides to retake her seat at the Council to try to convince them to free Luke and his Jedi. She instructs Rey, Poe and Chewy to take the Falcon to Dagobah to rescue Luke should she fail.