It’s a rather well known fact that before it was released into theaters in 1983, Return of the Jedi, the third installment in George Lucas’ beloved Star Wars space opera, the movie bore the title Revenge of the Jedi. Just how close did the world come to following up the bummer ending of Empire Strikes Back with a little vengeance, you might ask? Pretty damn close, close enough, in fact, that there were trailers, like this one, with that moniker released into movie theaters to hype up the film.
Would the world really have been changed that drastically if Lucas had stuck with Revenge over Return? It’s easy enough to envision sitting around, drinking with your Star Wars obsessed little buddies, discussing particular merits or flaws of Revenge instead of Return, or the tonal contrasts between Revenge and Empire. And as you can clearly see from this trailer, the film still has everything that makes Jedi Jedi. There are Ewoks, a speeder bike chase, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker being all heroic, and Princess Leia in a metal bikini.
Still, you can’t help but think that Return of the Jedi seems more fitting to the subject than Revenge of the Jedi. There’s definitely some retribution going on, perhaps even some retaliation, but the film is a little light when it comes to the vengeance side of things. There’s a more altruistic sentiment driving the action than a bloodlust. Return is all about good triumphing over evil, of being heroic, not squabbling about petty wounds. Revenge, as a concept, just seems beneath the Jedi Knights, they’re a very let’s-take-the-high-road kind of crew. When you’re talking about agents of the Dark Side, revenge is right up their alley, which is probably why Lucas went with Revenge of the Sith for his second prequel in 2005. You could see using a word like revenge in the middle film of the trilogy, what with a much darker feel and more sinister themes. There’s too much cute and cuddly in Jedi.
There are a few subtle differences between this and the version you’ve however many hundreds of times over the course of your life. For instance, you may notice something peculiar about Luke’s lightsaber. Isn’t that supposed to be green, not blue? Weird, we almost lived in a world where Luke had a blue lightsaber, I shudder to think what that universe would look like.