Why This Luke Leia Scene Was Cut From The Empire Strikes Back




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When The Empire Strikes Back first hit cinemas in 1980, audiences didn't yet know that Luke and Leia were twins, or that Darth Vader was their father. So when Leia kissed Luke early in the movie in an effort to make Han Solo jealous, it was played as a joke that introduced some mild romantic tension between the three main characters, and upped the will-they-won't-they stakes of Leia and Han's relationship. It was only three years later, in Return of the Jedi, that Luke and Leia learned that they were actually siblings, making that kiss appear a little incestuous in hindsight. "Yoda spoke of another." "The other he spoke of is your twin sister." But if you still cringe thinking about that kiss, just know that it could have been so much worse. Thanks to a deleted scene that was released on Disney+ in November 2019, we now know that the relationship between Luke and Leia almost got even more inappropriate. In the version of the scene we all know, Han and Chewbacca come to the medical bay to say goodbye to Luke, who's recovering from his near-death experience with the wampa. Luke looks uncomfortable when Han insists that Leia has feelings for him, and Leia comes back with an iconic insult. "Why you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy looking nerf-herder." Finally, Leia brusquely kisses Luke in front of Han, then exits triumphantly. But in the deleted scene, it's made clear that Luke wasn't just uncomfortable because he felt like a third wheel. In that version, we learn that he was actually jealous of Leia and Han's obvious romantic tension, after his near-death experience awakened Luke to his romantic feelings for Leia. "It got me thinking, you know. I might never get the chance to…" Luke tries to explain how he feels, but when he goes in for a kiss, the ever-reliable C-3PO interrupts. The moment gone, Luke tells Leia that he plans to leave. She accuses him of deserting her and the Resistance, just like Han, who then arrives with Chewbacca, and the original scene plays out. Yes, the kiss is already bad once you know that Luke and Leia are siblings. But this longer version introduces a love triangle subplot that would have created a totally different dynamic in the movies. Luke secretly being infatuated with Leia would have thrown a major wedge between the three main characters and potentially stalled his Jedi training, since Jedi frown on trivial matters like love. Interestingly, series creator George Lucas has remained quiet on whether or not he knew that Luke and Leia were siblings during the making of Empire. If he already had that plot twist figured out, it would explain why he decided that this would-be romance had to go. However, while Lucas has deftly avoided the subject of this particular lost storyline, he does like to hint that he knew how the Star Wars saga would play out all along. That would mean that he's fine having siblings smooch when they don't know they're related, but not with one declaring a full-on crush on the other. However, there is some evidence that Luke and Leia weren't yet identified as siblings by this point in the franchise. The fact that they got as far as filming the deleted version of the medical bay scene suggests that there was some question about what kind of relationship the two characters were going to have. Plus, in earlier drafts of the Empire script, Vader was going to play on Luke's romantic feelings for Leia to turn him to the Dark Side. Luke was still supposed to have a sister in these earlier drafts, although she was meant to be a totally new character who wasn't going to appear until Return of the Jedi. But the theory goes that this extra character proved to be just too much for a story already teeming with subplots. Instead, after Leia confessed her love for Han at the end of Empire, Lucas decided to kill two Stormtroopers with one blaster shot and just have Leia be Luke's sister, making Star Wars easier for everyone. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about Star Wars are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell so you don't miss a single one.