George Lucas felt "betrayed" and "upset" by the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Disney CEO Bob Iger reveals in new memoir

George Lucas
(Image credit: Getty)

George Lucas has remained fairly silent when it comes to the Disney-released Star Wars sequel trilogy. The series creator previously said that "fans are going to love" Star Wars: The Force Awakens – a fairly neutral stance on the J.J. Abrams-directed movie. 

Thanks to Disney CEO Bob Iger's memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime, we now know that Lucas initially felt "betrayed" and "upset" by Episode VII, having wanted the story to take a different trajectory.

“At some point in the process [of Disney purchasing LucasFilm], George told me that he had completed outlines for three new movies," Iger writes (via ComicBook). Lucas sent three copies to those in high positions at Disney, and they decided to buy the outlines, with Iger writing: "We made clear in the purchase agreement that we would not be contractually obligated to adhere to the plot lines he’d laid out.”

“He knew that I was going to stand firm on the question of creative control, but it wasn’t an easy thing for him to accept," Iger continues. "And so he reluctantly agreed to be available to consult with us at our request. I promised that we would be open to his ideas (this was not a hard promise to make; of course we would be open to George Lucas’ ideas), but like the outlines, we would be under no obligation.”

Iger then met with Lucas, screenwriter Michael Arndt, director J.J. Abrams, and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy at Skywalker Ranch to discuss their ideas for the sequel trilogy. “George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren’t using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations,” Iger writes, adding that himself, Kennedy and Abrams had agreed on a direction for the series that was different to what Lucas had outlined.

"George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded,” Iger continues. “I’d been so careful since our first conversation not to mislead him in any way, and I didn’t think I had now, but I could have handled it better. I should have prepared him for the meeting with J.J. and Michael and told him about our conversations, that we felt it was better to go in another direction. I could have talked through this with him and possibly avoided angering him by not surprising him.”

“Now, in the first meeting with him about the future of Star Wars, George felt betrayed, and while this whole process would never have been easy for him, we’d gotten off to an unnecessarily rocky start.”

Lucas previously revealed the direction his sequel trilogy would have taken in an interview with director James Cameron, stating that Episode VII would have seen Luke Skywalker train up a new Jedi, named Kira, on a secluded planet (much like Ach-To). The movies would have also given us a closer look at the midi-chlorians, the microscopic life forms described as living everywhere and within everyone during the prequel movie Phantom Menace. 

“Everyone hated it in Phantom Menace [when] we started to talk about midi-chlorians,” Lucas told Cameron in his book James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. “There’s a whole aspect to that movie that is about symbiotic relationships. To make you look and see that we aren’t the boss. That there’s an ecosystem.”

Lucas added: “[The next three Star Wars films] were going to get into a microbiotic world. But there’s this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force.”

The Whills were, as established by Lucas in the earliest drafts of Star Wars, an order of immortal beings who controlled everything through the Force. “Back in the day, I used to say ultimately what this means is we were just cars, vehicles for the Whills to travel around,” Lucas continued. “We’re vessels for them. And the conduct is the midi-chlorians. The midi-chlorians are the ones that communicate with the Whills. The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force.”

Did Disney and Iger make the right decision by creating their own story? Who is to say. Both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were brilliant Star Wars movies, and there's no doubt that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be equally as good. 

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.