Movie Reviews

The Force Awakens' Original Coruscant Plan Would Have Made The Film Worse

The First Order destroyed the Hosnian system in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the original plan for the destruction of Coruscant would have made one of the movie’s biggest problems even worse. As the first part of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens was a movie geared toward pleasing longtime fans of the franchise while creating the potential for a new direction for the saga. One of the most common criticisms of The Force Awakens, however, is that it leaned too heavily on original trilogy nostalgia while brushing the prequels under the rug. Destroying Coruscant would have exacerbated this point.

Coruscant was a key location in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The ecumenopolis was the capital of the Galactic Republic and housed the headquarters of the Jedi Order, so it was, naturally, featured prominently throughout the fall of both institutions. As the capital of the Galactic Empire (having been renamed Imperial Center in-universe) Coruscant was shown at the end of Return of the Jedi (thanks to the 1997 Star Wars special editions and all subsequent re-releases) and was battled over by the New Republic and Imperial warlords in the Legends timeline, becoming the New Republic’s capital in 6 ABY.

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In an homage to the Death Star’s destruction of Alderaan in A New Hope, the First Order uses its superweapon, Starkiller Base, to destroy the Hosnian system in The Force Awakens, terrorizing the galaxy and decapitating the New Republic by vaporizing its capital. According to Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo, Coruscant was originally planned to be destroyed by the First Order’s Ilum-based superweapon, but opinions on the idea were divided, with one camp not wanting the prequel-era world to be destroyed. Ultimately, Hosnian Prime was used instead of Coruscant, preventing the anti-prequel issues of The Force Awakens from being even worse.

The Force Awakens consciously repeats story beats from the Star Wars original trilogy films, particularly A New Hope, and whether or not this was the right choice is up for debate. Amidst all of the references and recreations of original trilogy moments, however, it’s easy to take note of The Force Awakens’ lack of acknowledgment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The franchise took the safest possible route when introducing the sequels, which meant replicating Star Wars’ most beloved installments while ignoring what was at the time its most divisive films.

The Star Wars prequels were initially criticized for their slow pace, focus on exposition and political plot threads, and different tone overall from the fast-paced lighthearted original trilogy films. In recent years, however, the prequels have been reevaluated, resulting in a greater appreciation for their grandiose depiction of a democracy’s fall to fascism through Palpatine’s gradual coup. The Force Awakens, attempting to mimic the original films, avoided political exposition, leaving the New Republic and First Order underdeveloped.

Destroying Coruscant, one of the most pivotal worlds in the Star Wars prequels, would have looked like a conscious symbolic jettisoning of prequel-era lore and even could have come across as being in poor taste. Coruscant’s replacement for elimination, Hosnian Prime, was a nearly identical stand-in for the prequel trilogy’s ecumenopolis — so much that it was easily mistaken for Coruscant at first. While Coruscant’s destruction might have held more emotional weight for the movie than a new and visually similar world being destroyed, Star Wars: The Force Awakens changing its original plans for Starkiller Base’s target mitigated one of the movie’s biggest criticisms.

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