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Movie Legends Revealed: Were Luke & Leia Intended to Be Twins When They Kissed in ‘Empire’?

luke-leia

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Princess Leia wasn’t intended to be Luke’s sister until Return of the Jedi.

A couple of months back, I wrote a piece on Comics Should Be Good about the moments in the original “Star Wars” comics where Luke and Leia kiss, which look odd in hindsight, following the revelation in “Return of the Jedi” that they’re twins. However, there are similarly awkward scenes in the “Star Wars” films — notably the kiss Leia plants on Luke in “The Empire Strikes Back.” That, though, leads to a question that’s been on many “Star Wars” fans minds ever since: Did George Lucas intend for Luke and Leia to be siblings during “The Empire Strikes Back”?

I think the answer is no, although interestingly enough, Lucas has never expressly addressed the topic, which makes it difficult to get a definitive answer. Part of that comes along with the “Lucas had everything planned on from the beginning!” myth the filmmaker himself has had a hand in perpetuating. For instance, we’ve already addressed whether Darth Vader was originally intended to be Luke’s father. However, Lucas has been rather quiet about his intent with Vader, despite it seeming pretty clear that he didn’t intend for them to be related. His silence allows the “Lucas planned everything years ago!” myth to gain ground.

As I featured in the aforementioned legend, screenwriter Leigh Brackett’s original draft for “The Empire Strikes Back” included a scene in which Luke is visited by the spirit of his father, Anakin Skywalker. Here is the initial exchange:

SKYWALKER

You’ve grown well, Luke. I’m proud of you.

(Luke, not knowing what to say, says nothing)

Did your uncle ever speak to you about your sister?

LUKE

My sister? I have a sister? But why didn’t Uncle Owen….

SKYWALKER

It was my request. When I saw the Empire closing in, I sent you both away for your own safety, far apart from each other.

LUKE

Where is she? What’s her name?

SKYWALKER

If I were to tell you, Darth Vader could get that information from your mind and use her as a hostage. Not yet, Luke. When it’s time…

(he looks gravely at his son)

Luke. Will you take, from me, the oath of a Jedi knight?

Slowly, proudly, Luke draws his light saber and activates it, bringing it to the salute. Skywalker does the same.

Brackett’s screenplay was based on a story treatment by Lucas, so clearly, Luke DOES have a twin sister in this movie. However, it’s clear that it’s NOT Leia, as Brackett initially names the sister, Nellith, but then crosses that out.

luke-leia2

Even after Lucas revised Brackett’s screenplay to introduce Darth Vader as Luke’s father, he kept a sequence where Luke and Leia discuss their feelings for each other, with Luke telling her she’s better off with Han Solo. An even LATER revision included a near SECOND kiss between the two!

So no, I don’t believe Lucas intended Leia to be Luke’s sister during “The Empire Strikes Back.” Around the time of “Empire,” Lucas spoke of the trilogy of films that would follow the end of the original trilogy:

Q: At one point there were going to be twelve “Star Wars” films.
I cut that number down to nine because the other three were tangential to the saga. “Star Wars” was the fourth story in the saga and was to have been called “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”. But I decided people wouldn’t understand the numbering system so we dropped it. For “Empire” though we’re putting back the number and will call it “Episode Five: The Empire Strikes Back.” After the third film in this trilogy we’ll go back and make the first trilogy, which deals with the young Ben Kenobi and the young Darth Vader.

Q: What is the third trilogy about?
It deals with the character who survives “Star Wars III” and his adventures.

This is important because it lends credence to comments by “The Empire Strikes Back” producer Gary Kurtz, who told TheForce.Net:

She’s not his sister. That dropped in to wrap up everything neatly. His sister was someone else way over on the other side of the galaxy and she wasn’t going to show up until the next episode.

Story continues below

So at the time of “Empire,” Lucas intended to make future films with Luke, just as Kurtz said. But then Lucas stopped at “Return of the Jedi.” Kurtz said Luke was going to meet his twin in the new trilogy. If that’s true and Lucas decided NOT to produce a new trilogy, then it makes sense for him to have Leia revealed as the twin in “Return of the Jedi,” as it allows him to wrap up his intended plot for Luke/Leia.

Yes, in “Empire,” Luke speaks to Leia through his mind, which later is part of their connection as siblings, but I think that’s more of a retroactive element where Lucas said, “Hey, we had Luka talk to Leia through her mind – why not have THEM be twins?” As it also neatly wraps up the love triangle that Lucas was clearly intending on wrapping up no matter what.

Plus, that would naturally explain away why Lucas had siblings kiss in “Empire<,” s they WOULDN’T have been siblings when it first happened.

Because the only definitive answer exists in Lucas’ mind, I suppose we’ll never know for sure. But I think there’s enough evidence that I’m comfortable going with the legend as…

STATUS: True

Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of films. And click here for legends just about “Star Wars”!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Comments

  • Brimfyre

    Lucas has been pretty candid that this was the case for a while now. Well ever since the Prequels started getting shit on and he stopped caring.

    However, you are comparing an early draft of Empire, one in which Vader isn’t even Luke’s Father yet, and saying that proves Luke and Leia weren’t siblings yet. That kind of undoes your argument right there. None of the familial relationships had been established in that draft, including the biggest shocker of Darth being Daddy.

    It seems to be, at least by the time they got to writing the part with the telepathy, they were already probably thinking about RotJ and entertaining the idea of Leia being the sibling. Maybe not committing fully to it, but placing the seeds if they wanted to go in that direction.

  • Codystarbuck

    The fact that Alan Dean Foster has Luke and Leia swap spit in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, which was commissioned by Lucas as a potential plot for a sequel (if Star Wars hadn’t been a big hit), done on a cheaper budget, pretty much cements that they were not twins. There was a draft of Star Wars where Luke and Leia are children (along with a brother Deak) of Kane Starkiller, a powerful jedi. However, Darth Vader was a separate character, an Imperial general, not a Sith Lord. The Sith was Prince Valorum.

  • Adam Harmon

    Actually, if you read the very thoroughly researched and well-written “The Making of Star Wars” by J.W. Rinzler, he shows that Lucas had the idea of the Princess and the hero being brother and sister written down from the very earliest drafts of Star Wars.

  • Meekrob

    Then why are they sucking face? That makes no sense.

  • Adam Harmon

    Their familial relationship was never meant to be revealed until later in the story. Them kissing when they had no knowledge of being siblings can be explained and there is even psychological terms for such relationship. You even have real-life stories of long-lost family members having relationships even after they discover their relationship. Like the following story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/16/daughter-plans-to-marry-long-lost-father/21859547/

  • greg

    it wasst even that deep of a kiss anyway…….not romantic.
    the cut scene was more romantic….i cant recall it but it seemed a little icky at the time i saw it.
    actually the kiss works……misdirection. more of a surprise……but not really because rotj ben just blabbed it out instead of a big reveal. but still would not have been much of one considering she was the only chick in the film.

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  • sid zero

    “so clearly, Luke DOES have a twin sister in this movie.” – Actually, if you reread that, you’ll see it says NOTHING about this supposed sister being a twin.

  • sid zero

    Someone needs to learn about a little thing called “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”. Seriously. Google it.

    Everything that Lucas has said about the entire series and his supposed plans for it, including it being a trilogy, and there being two other trilogies, and even that A New Hope was intended to be an episode IV… they’re all lies spread by Lucas to perpetuate the myth that he had it all planned from the beginning.

    That includes your “Making of Star Wars” book that wasn’t published until 30 years after the movie had come out, and was written by someone in Lucas’ employ.

  • elisabetta negro

    Well, it’s hard to say if he intended for them to be siblings right from the start; what’s sure is that from the first rought draft, that’s been adapted into the Dark Horse “The Star Wars” mini-series, they weren’t intented to be siblings in the first incarnation of the story by Lucas.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Incest is wincest.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    The final shooting script for episode 4 states Luke is 18 and Leia is 16. Make of that what you will.

  • John

    The Star Wars films are loosely based on the Ring Cycle by Wagner.
    Siegmund born in obscurity, led by a hermit to a magic sword, falls in love with his twin sister Sieglinde (not knowing that he had one), ends up facing his father Wotan (a large, ominous black-clad figure like Vader ((which literally translates to Father))) where his sword is destroyed and Siegmund is defeated. This battle leaves Wotan with a sense of compassion for his children.
    The magic sword of Siegmund is later reforged and Wotans weapon (a staff, but made of the same tree as Siegmund’s sword) is destroyed by it, leaving Wotan powerless.

    A lot of ancient legends follow the same pattern. That’s why the original trilogy is such a great story arc. Whereas the prequels had nothing to work on, so were bloody awful. Lucas was also greatly influenced by Tolkien, and as you can see from above, both use Wagner’s Ring Cycle as the foundation of their stories.

    So yes, in fact, he did know they were twins, and yes, he did plan on Vader to be Luke’s father.

  • Picklepuss57

    George Lucas account spotted!

  • Phil Clark

    Even if it has always been intended that they were siblings, much emphasis is put on the kiss. At the time of the kiss, they themselves would not have known they were siblings. And there are MANY cases of siblings separated at birth, who meet later in life, fall in love, and then discover they are siblings. It happens. So why the shock of two characters who shared an onscreen kiss being siblings? To many prudes. It really is a non-issue. It’s not like they had sex. It was a kiss. A kiss that for Leia put Han in his place because he was getting cocky. People need to get the hell over it and let it go.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    There was a more passionate kiss between them filmed but edited out. The kiss she gives him in front of Han, is anything but passionate. Im wondering at the worldly experience of anyone thinking that quick smooch was some sort of lover’s embrace.
    It was PURELY to make Han jealous, and even as a kid I could see that.
    A lot of movies are rewritten or changed on the fly, and in this case, they made the right decision.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    You are way off. First a book written by someone else is NOT proof of anything. He could have written in Yoda and the Emperor being father and son, wouldn’t have made it the case. There are contradictions between the books and the movies. Second, you are confusing ignorance of being related with incest. There have been people who had sex, got married, had kids, THEN found out they were brother and sister. Google it.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    Because they don’t know!! Are all of you totally stupid?
    A good writer isn’t going to change the events of a story that happen naturally just because he knows how he wants it to end. That’s what bad writers do, i.e. Twilight.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    dipsh*t troll

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    Splinter was not written by Lucas.
    BAM. You’re done.

  • sid zero

    No, but it was written on his behalf, by someone who was paid to ghostwrite for him, as a sequel to Star Wars had it not been successful. You would think that if Lucas actually HAD plans beyond that first story, those plans would have been accounted for in the book.
    So take your “BAM. You’re done.” and shove it, because BAM YOU’RE done.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    No need to censor yourself. You can say shit. We’re all adults here. Shit, you can say fuck and cunt too if you like.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    Yes, we understand that you are a little kid who discovered cuss words, and mommy doesn’t know you’re cussing on the intarwebz. We get it.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    I strongly suspect (99%) Lucas has only half ass paid attention to all of the books, video games, etc. He just frankly doesn’t care much, he told his story and made his wealth, so he pays people good money to handle that crap for him. That’s also why he sold the Star Wars rights! Knowing what you are talking about goes a long way.

    So BAM, right back up your azz, you were done before you replied.

  • sid zero

    It seems I’m dealing with a troll. Back under your bridge, because you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about, whatsoever.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Dawww, did I offend your poor widdle ears? Don’t worry, Jeebus still loves you.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    lol you being a mentally retarded 10 year old who just learned how to cuss doesn’t offend anyone, but it makes them laugh your stupidity.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    There you go, lose an argument, just tell the other person they don’t know what they are talking about. Good one.

    You’re so smart! Lucas didn’t sell the rights. What am I thinking?? I need to check with sid zero the all knowing genius next time. We will just overlook that part where he is wrong.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Y’all need to check your neurotypical privilege. Words hurt you big internet meanie. :`(

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    ok libtard little kid.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Again with the ableist slurs. Anyone would think you were a bigot. Ohhhhh conservative, now I get it. Don’t worry, I’m sure hating darkies will come back into fashion one day.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    Keep going with the idiotic hyperbole that only a little kid would come up with. Its ALMOST amusing. More sad than anything. I hope you dont breed someday.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Oh, so you’re a eugenicist too. Can’t say that I’m surprised.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    ok little kid.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Ageist too. Wow, you are really racking up the Karma points ain’t ya?

  • Arrowe76

    I agree. It was so clearly set up at the end of Empire, I always saw it as the reveal, even if the characters themselves weren’t aware of it.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    And you are making up words, troll. You are a waste of everyone’s time.

  • Mike Hunt-Hurtz

    Yet you just can’t quit me. I want you inside me. No homo.

    Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ageism

  • HORSEFLESH

    Lucas approved Splinter and had it lined up as a potential low-budget sequel.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    And we see how far that went.

  • HORSEFLESH

    Doesn’t matter where it went; the central characters from the Lucas Star Wars universe were the same.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    Yes it clearly doesnt matter that no movie was made and very few people have read it. It only matters for you to support a lame argument. if I write a novel about Luke being transgender and having a gay trist with Han would that make it so?

  • HORSEFLESH

    And there you prove you missed the historical point being made: the novel reflects Lucas’s original intention at the time for the characters – Leia was not originally Luke’s sister. Splinter was a Lucas approved story-line so if they were intended to be brother and sister Lucas would not have approved of them swapping-spit.

    This original intention also follows through in the next film, ESB, where they both kiss. Leia was not intended to be his sister until it was decided in the writing of ROTJ.

    If you write a novel it doesn’t matter, because Lucas did not approve it. This narrow-mindedness means little in terms of documented historical fact.

  • Mystical_Groove_Conservative

    Lucas approved yet they didnt go wit that. ok, Im still right, no matter how you try to spin it. Its NOT the accepted story line, so you may as well stop

  • HORSEFLESH

    “Its NOT the accepted story line”

    Except that’s not the point – which you continue to avoid – of this thread of comments. Nice straw-man/tangent but that’s not how logic works.

    In context of what’s being argued, “Princess Leia wasn’t intended to be Luke’s sister until Return of the Jedi”, documented history says this is correct and it influenced the storyline of both Splinter.. and Empire…. – the content of both supports that they weren’t originally intended to be siblings during either Splinter or Empire, until Jedi.

    I forgive your reading comprehension mistake but sorry, you’re wrong, kid. Wrong. It’s ok to be wrong.

  • momosaku

    I get your logic on the sibling thing. what`s confusing me is the Vader thing. theoreticaly it`s possible that Vader wasn`t intended to be Luke`s father in the early stages, but then why in hell did they name him Darth Vader, which literally means dark father??? was it intended as some kind of metaphor, and then Lucas decided to take it literally, or what