The release of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – Attack Of The Preconceived Notions is still many months of preemptive agonizing away, but in Internet time, it’s never too early—nor too late—to imagine what the movie you haven’t seen yet might have been like under another director. As you may recall, dozens of names were bandied about for the franchise before J.J. Abrams stopped pretending he wasn’t going to take it—among them David Fincher. The director’s history with Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on Return Of The Jedi, lent some credence to the rumor, while his style suggested an excitingly dark turn for the franchise that most rational people knew meant it would never happen. And yet, according to Fincher himself, he actually came fairly close to making that gloomy story of robot slavery he’d always dreamed of.
In an interview with Total Film, Fincher said he’d met with Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy about directing Episode VII, only to determine that he wasn’t sure his vision would have fit with the new Disney era of Star Wars. “”It’s tricky,” Fincher said. “My favorite is The Empire Strikes Back. If I said, ‘I want to do something more like that,’ then I’m sure the people paying for it would be like, ‘No! You can’t do that! We want it like the other one with all the creatures!’” Fincher doesn’t specify which of the Star Wars movies is the one with “all the creatures,” though it’s likely he’s referring to the one where Matt Damon buys a zoo. (He’s right; that was the shittiest Star Wars movie.)
Also potentially complicating matters is that Disney views Star Wars as an epic space opera about the battle between good and evil, the individual spirit and ruthless fascism, spaceships and spaceships. However, Fincher sees through all that window dressing to the Uncle Owen’s Cabin slave drama at its core:
I always thought of Star Wars as the story of two slaves [C-3PO and R2-D2] who go from owner to owner, witnessing their masters’ folly, the ultimate folly of man… I thought it was an interesting idea in the first two, but it’s kind of gone by Return Of The Jedi.
Of course, countless Star Wars spinoffs await, meaning there’s still the chance that Fincher could someday get to tell his 12 Parsecs A Droid Slave, or C-3PO X. (“We didn’t land on Tatooine. Tatooine landed on us!”) In the meantime, it all just remains a fanciful notion, like the idea that the Force flows through everyone equally. Not yet, robot brothers and sisters.