David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

What the 3rd Star Wars trilogy was supposed to be about

Spoiler: Microbiomes in space!

What the 3rd Star Wars trilogy was supposed to be about
Image source: Disney
  • A recent interview reveals the visionary inspiration behind Star Wars.
  • The story was originally an excerpt from the Journal of the Whills.
  • The Whills were the force behind the Force.


As the final trilogy of Star Wars—or the ninth segment of the Star Wars ennead—takes flight, the curtain is coming down on the Skywalker saga. As the story was originally envisioned by George Lucas, however, the original plot line and conclusion would have been very different from the one presented in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It would have been a dip into the genuinely metaphysical, and an exploration of a biological concept Lucas somehow intuited by 1973 and which science only recently identified: the microbiome. Lucas is often called a visionary—it turns out it's truer than many of us realized.

The Force


Image source: Disney

Whatever one thinks of Star Wars as movies, there's no denying that Lucas contributed to humanity something that transcends the Star Wars movies and their fans: the Force. The vaguely theological, unseen struggle between opposites—good and evil, darkness and light—has become a secular religion, if such a thing is possible. While few would say they actually believe in it, few would say that they don't, even if they call it something else.

In its original conception, it turns out the Force was the activity of microbiotic beings called the "Whills," who were the real, if hidden, heroes and villains of Star Wars. As Lucas has said, "The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force."

Lucas recently revealed, "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."

Lucas planned for the third trilogy to largely leave the Skywalkers, etc. behind and shift the action down to where the story was really happening: the Whills' microbiome.

Disney said, um, nope, and wrote its own final trilogy without Lucas' involvement. And without the Whills. Says Lucas, "If I'd held onto the company I could have done it, and then it would have been done. Of course, a lot of the fans would have hated it, just like they did Phantom Menace and everything, but at least the whole story from beginning to end would be told."

Clearly, the beloved movie characters would have gotten a major demotion if we were to learn it's really the heroism of the Whills we're seeing.

Reading between the lines

Full of mid-chlorians is young Annakin.

Image source: Disney

Fans of the movies have long known something about the Whills. In early story notes, summaries, and script drafts that have been published, notably in Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays, the Whills loom large as the central focus of the whole saga. It was, in fact, originally called Journal of the Whills, and was to be presented to the audience by an unseen narrator, a Whill:

"Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concept behind the Whills turned into the Force." — George Lucas

Passing references to the Whills pop up here and there in the films released before Lucas sold the rights to Disney, particularly in the widely disliked first trilogy, released decades after the acclaimed second trio of films.

Critics and viewers alike rolled their eyes in The Phantom Menace when young Annakin Skywalker was found to have a high "mid-chlorian" count. Here, Lucas was laying the groundwork for the Whills: Mid-chlorians, he now says, were micro-organisms that served as conduits though which their host, say, a Jedi, could communicate with the Whills. The more mid-chlorians someone has, the more in touch with the Force that person is.

The Whills revealed

George Lucas

Image source: Art Zelin/Getty

The central role played by the Whills in the Star Wars universe became clear only recently, thanks to an eye-opening interview Lucas gave director James Cameron as part of compelling AMC series James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction. The publishers of the companion book for the series, Insight Editions, published an excerpt of Lucas' interview online.

In his interview, Lucas recalls the thinking that led him to the Whills back in the early 1970s. It's remarkably prescient regarding what science now describes as our personal microbiomes: "Back in the day, I used to say ultimately what this means is we were just cars, vehicles, for the Whills to travel around in. We're vessels for them."

Nothing much is known about how Lucas would have visualized the Whills, and we may never know, if even he does. Meanwhile, bringing Lucas' original Star Wars vision into focus is fascinating. When Episode IV, a New Hope first exploded into the theaters, it played primarily as a deliberate and hokey—if thrilling—tribute to the director's beloved Saturday-matinee sci-fi popcorn serials. Who knew its origin had been so profound?

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Yale scientists restore cellular function in 32 dead pig brains

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

Still from John Stephenson's 1999 rendition of Animal Farm.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
Keep reading Show less

Here’s a map of Mars with as much water as Earth

A 71% wet Mars would have two major land masses and one giant 'Medimartian Sea.'

Just imagine: a Mars that's as wet as Earth.

Image: A.R. Bhattarai, reproduced with kind permission
Strange Maps
  • Sci-fi visions of Mars have changed over time, in step with humanity's own obsessions.
  • Once the source of alien invaders, the Red Planet is now deemed ripe for terraforming.
  • Here's an extreme example: Mars with exactly as much surface water as Earth.
Keep reading Show less

The entrepreneur's guide to success: Follow these tips

Starting and running a business takes more than a good idea and the desire to not have a boss.

  • Anyone can start a business and be an entrepreneur, but the reality is that most businesses will fail. Building something successful from the ground up takes hard work, passion, intelligence, and a network of people who are equally as smart and passionate as you are. It also requires the ability to accept and learn from your failures.
  • In this video, entrepreneurs in various industries including 3D printing, fashion, hygiene, capital investments, aerospace, and biotechnology share what they've learned over the years about relationships, setting and attaining goals, growth, and what happens when things don't go according to plan.
  • "People who start businesses for the exit, most of them will fail because there's just no true passion behind it," says Miki Agrawal, co-founder of THINX and TUSHY. A key point of Agrawal's advice is that if you can't see yourself in something for 10 years, you shouldn't do it.

Scroll down to load more…