Were Luke and Leia Planned to Be Siblings Before "Return of the Jedi"?
Luke and Leia's Relationship
As any Star Wars fan remembers, the main twist of Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back reveals Darth Vader as Luke's father. For this, we had several hints throughout the films, from Vader's obsession with tracking Luke to Uncle Owen's comment about being afraid of Luke having too much Anakin in him.
As the credits play, we're all stunned and slapping ourselves for not seeing it sooner. But then, in Episode 6: Return of the Jedi, we also learn that Leia happens to be Luke's long-list sister, separated shortly after birth. Unlike Vader's reveal, many fans took issue with this development, believing it a cheap way to wrap up Luke and Han's love triangle with Leia. So, was this a last-minute addition or a subtly hinted-at reveal? You be the judge as examine both sides of the debate!
Luke and Leia's Familial Kiss
First and foremost, the kiss. In Empire, after Han rescues Luke from Hoth's frigid climate, Leia plants an uncomfortably long smooch on Luke. At the time, no one thought anything of it, but looking back with the knowledge of their relation, it's an awkward incestual moment we'd rather forget. If Luke and Leia were planned as siblings, odds are good this scene wouldn't have made the cut in such a family-friendly franchise.
Nellith, Luke's Other Sister
Early scripts of Episode 5 bear a few changes, notably a scene where Anakin's spirit reveals a woman named tentatively named Nellith (and not Leia) as Luke's long-lost sister. Even when this was scrapped, drafts for a sequel trilogy involved Nellith eventually finding Luke during his time of Jedi training, with Leia presumably combating the Empire elsewhere.
Here's where most fans leave it; case closed, right? Well, despite the weird kiss and alternative sister, creator George Lucas may have considered uniting his male and female leads even before Episode 6. Let's examine the evidence pointing towards their connection.
Yoda's Line About There Being "Another" Hope
While training, Luke receives a vision of his friends in danger and departs Dagobah against Obi-Wan and Yoda's advice. As Luke's ship leaves, Obi-Wan remarks how Luke is their last hope, while Yoda mysteriously responds "no, there is another".
He's referring to Leia, who also carries Vader's fierce Force potential within her blood and could presumably undergo Jedi training if needed (which she eventually does in the legends timeline's expanded universe). Admittedly, it's possible Lucas's team didn't yet know who Yoda was hinting at, but it's likely Leia was already a candidate considering...
Leia's Force Sensitivity
After Luke's climatic battle against Vader in Empire's finale, he's missing a hand and clutching a thin metal perch that barely prevents a lethal plunge into Cloud City's depths. Desperate, Luke tries calling to Obi-Wan using the Force. Failing that, he instead reaches to out to Leia, who hears him and guides the Millennium Falcon to his location.
Despite their distance and Luke's failing strength, he manages to get a clear message across to Leia, foreshadowing her Force affinity. Remember, this is happening during Empire, not Return, indicating Leia's heritage may have been more scripted than believed.
Do you think Luke and Leia were planned to be siblings by Empire?
So, Were Luke and Leia Intended as Twins?
You're of course welcome to draw your own conclusions, but here are my thoughts. I believe that Leia's connection to Luke was at least being tossed around by the time of Empire's release. It probably wasn't set it stone, or the team likely would have cut/changed their kiss, but Yoda's hint and Leia's Force potential indicate that her relation may not have been the deus ex machina love triangle resolution we initially believed it to be. Also, bear in mind that Lucas was understandably hesitant about sharing spoilers with his team, as he'd already had several twists leaked.
Thankfully, viewers can adopt whichever viewpoint satisfies them. If you want to believe that Lucas had foresight about Luke's sister, there's evidence to support that perspective, but if you feel he was just improvising on the fly, you're definitely not alone. Either way, as we eagerly await our next adventure in the galaxy far far away, cast your thoughts on the matter and I'll see you at our next Star Wars review!
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© 2018 Jeremy Gill