Should a Star Wars What If…? series ever come to pass on Disney+, which alternate scenarios from the franchise’s long history would make for perfect episodes? Inspired by the 1970s comic concept, Marvel released What If…? as part of 2021’s MCU streaming lineup. Fans were anticipating the kind of multiverse madness seen across Phase 4 but, instead, What If…? mostly stuck to slightly altered versions of MCU history. For instance, what if Peggy Carter received super soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers? And what if Hope van Dyne died while working for SHIELD?
Though the concept belongs to Marvel, this « alternate history » format would be better suited to another world-famous Disney acquisition – Star Wars. From humble beginnings in 1977, Star Wars has expanded through multiple generations, telling different stories on diverse planets in separate eras. Compared to changing one key detail in the MCU, stepping on a womp rat in the Star Wars universe has far wider ramifications, making for thrilling What If…? episodes that avoid the Marvel pitfall of retelling old movie plots.
The more important question is which alternate scenarios a Star Wars: What If…? Disney+ series should include. For a 10-episode debut season, what alternate histories are audiences most eager to see? Which ones do they need to see, but just don’t know it yet? These are the most tantalizing What If…? scenarios a Star Wars version of the MCU Disney+ anthology series could use.
What If… Luke & Leia Skywalker Switched Places?
Few split-second decisions have a bigger impact on Star Wars mythology than when the fates of newborn twins, Luke and Leia Skywalker, are decided. With the Empire rapidly gaining power and Padmé losing the will to live, Darth Vader’s children need protection. Bail Organa admits he and his wife « always talked of adopting a girl » and takes Leia to Alderaan, while Luke goes to live on Tatooine with his aunt and uncle under Obi-Wan Kenobi’s protection. Looking back through a modern lens, it’s a choice steeped in gender stereotypes – Leia plays princess, while Luke is groomed as the hero. So, what if Bail Organa said « we’ve always talked of adopting a boy » instead?
This Star Wars: What If episode could span the entire Skywalker saga as a two-part finale, beginning with Luke’s royal life on Alderaan and involvement with the Rebellion, while Leia kicks around the sandy wilderness of Tatooine. As the role reversal plays out, it’d be fascinating to witness how each sibling’s personality changes as a result of their upbringing. Luke might possess the privileged air of a royal prince, while Leia probably takes to the rough climes of Tatooine more readily than her brother. Because they meet each other earlier, the Han Solo and Leia romance has more time to simmer before adding Luke as a third wheel, but could the visions Leia mentioned in The Rise of Skywalker disrupt her Jedi training with Obi-Wan and Yoda?
What If… Jar-Jar Binks Was A Sith?
To say Jar Jar Binks was the least popular character from 1999’s The Phantom Menace would be something of an understatement as, fairly or otherwise, the gormless Gungun came to represent everything pre-millennium Star Wars fans disliked about the prequel trilogy. As love for the Star Wars prequels increased over the years, love for Jar Jar… didn’t. Nevertheless, one outlandish theory suggesting the character was a secret Sith working against the Republic has gained much popularity. Making a Star Wars: What If…? show, Disney+ would be foolish not to address the evil Gungun in the room.
Supporters of the Jar Jar Binks Sith theory point to how he infiltrated the Senate and handed supreme power to Sheev Palpatine, and somehow managed to avoid death through sheer clumsiness during the Battle of Naboo. Jar Jar also moves his hands suspiciously when trying to change a person’s mind… almost like a Force mind trick. Viewing Star Wars‘ prequel trilogy timeline through the perspective of Darth Jar Jar would be both hilarious and rewarding. A Star Wars: What If…? « Sith Binks » episode would also provide the perfect redemption for Ahmed Best, after he unnecessarily took the brunt of fan anger in 1999.
What If… R2-D2 & C-3PO Never Reached Tatooine?
It’s often pointed out how Star Wars‘ entire original trilogy hinges on the decision of one hapless Imperial. In the opening sequence of 1977’s Star Wars, an Imperial gunnery sergeant called Bolvan gives the order not to shoot down an escape pod from the Rebellion ship Tantive IV. Bolvan notes there are no life signs on board, totally unaware the pod contains two droids that will ultimately bring down the Empire. If Bolvan blows up R2-D2 and C-3PO here, Leia’s message doesn’t bring Obi-Wan, Luke and Han together, and the princess remains in Imperial custody. The Death Star plans continue to elude the Rebellion, and the space station can’t get destroyed by Luke Skywalker during what would be a far more one-sided Battle of Yavin.
Bolvan’s off-day at work is precisely the kind of situation What If…? is made for. How does Princess Leia escape by herself after Obi-Wan Kenobi’s message goes undelivered? How long does Luke Skywalker remain on Tatooine with his aunt and uncle (who survive because Stormtroopers don’t come looking for the droids)? And how much stronger does the Empire become if its stolen Death Star plans are lost in a hail of blue, white and gold body parts? Star Wars: What If…? could show Bolvan hailed as the Empire’s hero for intercepting Princess Leia’s message before reaching its intended recipient.
What If… Shmi Skywalker Survived?
Many factors contribute to Anakin Skywalker’s dark side turn – Palpatine’s manipulation, the Jedi’s obscenely strict rule book, a constant fear of sand, etc. Arguably the most significant step, however, is the death of Anakin’s mother, Shmi. Plagued by nightmares of her demise, Anakin found Shmi killed by Tusken Raiders. He slaughters them (not just the men, but the women and children too), and this represents a point of no return, forever haunted by fears he might lose Padmé the same way. How would Star Wars history change if Shmi Skywalker lived a long and happy life with Cliegg Lars?
Without his mother’s death as a trigger, Anakin might never betray the Jedi. Palpatine is forced to abandon his corruption of the Chosen One, and having already killed Count Dooku, begins searching for another apprentice. Order 66 happens anyway, but Anakin would likely survive the attack to reach his wife’s side in time for Luke and Leia’s birth. Helped by Obi-Wan Kenobi, the four members of the Skywalker family (Padmé doesn’t lose the will to live this time) must evade the Empire, while plotting the Jedi’s restoration and aiding the Rebellion.
What If… Lando Kept The Millennium Falcon?
Whether it’s Star Wars or Marvel, What If…? proves how a universe’s entire history can be rewritten in one seemingly innocuous moment, and nowhere is that more apparent than when Han Solo wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. Seen toward the end of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lando wagers his ship in a game of Sabacc, which Han wins after stopping his opponent cheating. But what if Lando was allowed to cheat, and he retained the Millennium Falcon heading into the original trilogy era?
Han Solo certainly can’t sell Obi-Wan and Luke on his replacement ship making the Kessel Run in under 13 parsecs, and the gang’s trip to and from the Death Star likely doesn’t end well without the fastest ship in the galaxy. Whereas Lando Calrissian initially gave up smuggling after losing the Falcon, keeping the ship might deter him from switching careers. By the time A New Hope begins, Lando could be the galaxy’s most renowned criminal, rather than the Administrator of Cloud City. Where the prime universe’s Han and Chewbacca found notoriety while Lando went (mostly) legitimate, this Star Wars: What If…? story would find Calrissian operating as a master smuggler, while his old Sabacc opponent struggles to get by in a slower, less iconic vessel.
What If… The Jedi Saved Din Djarin?
The Mandalorian season 1’s flashbacks reveal how Din Djarin’s family were killed by CIS droids during the Clone Wars. According to conventional Star Wars history, the youngster was rescued by Mandalorians and joined the Children of the Watch as a foundling, eventually becoming a bounty hunter and the foster father of Grogu. But that fateful day, it could’ve been Jedi that found and rescued Din Djarin instead. During the Clone Wars, Jedi commanders led teams of clone troopers in battle against Separatist droids, so if a Mandalorian cult hadn’t swooped in to save Din, Obi-Wan Kenobi and pals might have.
Similar in age to Anakin when he left Tatooine, Din Djarin would be « too old » to train as a Jedi (and he might not even be Force sensitive), but as an orphan of the Clone Wars with nowhere else to go, Yoda should at least keep him at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. This puts a young Din Djarin in the same location as a Grogu during the prequel trilogy timeline. Maybe the duo grow up as childhood friends, and when Order 66 happens it’s Din Djarin who, once again, helps Grogu escape the Empire. It’s The Mandalorian, but everyone’s smaller.
What If… Luke Skywalker Led The Resistance?
Luke Skywalker’s Star Wars sequel trilogy arc proved hugely controversial. If almost murdering his nephew for having a bad dream wasn’t bad enough, Luke then went into hiding while his friends protected the galaxy from the First Order. Mark Hamill himself (not to mention a fair few fans) felt this self-imposed exile was very un-Luke-like, and remained convinced the hero would actually be at the forefront of the Resistance alongside his sister. That sounds like a problem a future Star Wars: What If…? TV show could address.
Beginning with Ben Solo’s transformation into Kylo Ren and the destruction of Luke’s Jedi academy, this episode could rewrite the years preceding The Force Awakens, showing how Master Skywalker helped establish the Resistance and became the bane of the First Order, rather than a mythical figure who disappeared when the galaxy needed him most. Star Wars: What If…? could provide the Luke-Han reunion the sequel trilogy lacked, and present the Skywalker siblings as a two-pronged force for good. Fans would also witness how the Star Wars sequels change if Rey doesn’t spent an entire film convincing Luke Skywalker to train her.
What If… Qui-Gon Jinn Defeated Darth Maul?
Many have questioned why Qui-Gon Jinn – one of the Jedi’s greatest warriors – lost to Darth Maul, while his lowly padawan emerged victorious. Through all the discussion of lightsaber styles and calm temperament, Star Wars history plays out very differently if Qui-Gon defeats Maul in The Phantom Menace.
Making good on his threat to the Jedi Council, Qui-Gon Jinn would depart the Order to train Anakin Skywalker without their blessing. Qui Gon’s survival drastically alters the course of Anakin’s arc, as without official Jedi duties on Coruscant, Palpatine can’t sink his claws into the Chosen One. Annie might still reunite with his « angel » from Naboo, and their relationship wouldn’t be taboo, since Skywalker isn’t an official Jedi. When Order 66 comes around, Anakin and Qui-Gon would finally make their move, battling Inquisitors and Imperials to gather the remaining Jedi and launch a counterattack. On the other side of the galaxy, Qui-Gon killing Darth Maul (rather than Obi-Wan merely bisecting the Sith apprentice) rewrites Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the birth of Crimson Dawn.
What If… Boba Fett Disintegrated The Rebels?
Taking a more lighthearted approach to the What If…? formula, what would happen if Star Wars paid off one of Boba Fett’s most famous moments. When the Mandalorian bounty hunter is hired by Darth Vader to track down the Millennium Falcon, the Sith Lord warns Boba specifically, « no disintegrations! » The line caught fans’ curiosity, as many pondered how Boba Fett earned himself a reputation worthy of such a stark instruction. In prime continuity, Boba successfully captures Han Solo in one piece, but what if the bounty hunter simply couldn’t resist turning the Rebel scum to dust?
Darth Vader would be out for Boba Fett’s head after he disobeyed orders, and making an enemy of the Empire sends the bounty hunter into hiding. Part of Vader would surely also feel vengeful after Fett killed his son and daughter. As well as following Boba Fett while he desperately flees from an apoplectic Darth Vader, this Star Wars alternate history could explore the fate of the Rebellion after losing its best and brightest recruits. Do they stand a chance at the Battle of Endor without the Millennium Falcon and its crew?
What If… Rey Took After Her Grandfather?
Trailer footage for The Rise of Skywalker teased Dark Rey, armed with snazzy folding lightsaber and razor-sharp fangs. The scene amounted to nothing in the finished film – merely Rey’s fear of following the footsteps of evil grandfather, Emperor Palpatine. Where the Star Wars sequel trilogy deprived audiences of their Sith Rey fix, What If…? can deliver the goods. Perhaps Rey accepts Kylo Ren’s offer to rule the galaxy in The Last Jedi, or maybe she succumbs to the dark pit in the bowels of Ahch-To. However it happens, turning Rey into her grandfather would make for a twisted take on the Star Wars sequels.
The Kylo-Rey « shippers » get their wish, since both are villains now anyway, and together they could kill Palpatine on Exegol, claiming the spiritual Sith lineage for themselves. As Kylo Ren and Rey Palpatine wreak havoc across the galaxy, a vacancy would open up for a Force-sensitive hero on the side of the Resistance – a gap Finn would fill admirably. Star Wars teased Finn’s affinity for the Force but left the storyline so under-cooked, it might as well be raw. But with Rey and her boyfriend off killing younglings, Finn finally becomes the hero The Force Awakens promised. That’s precisely the kind of scenario that might convince Disney a Star Wars What If…? series should happen.
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