One of the most striking changes is that Luke Skywalker, eventually depicted as a young man longing for an escape from his boring desert home, was originally a much older character. Luke Skywalker was to be an older military man, presumably called back into action by the new rebellion. The adventure might have been the same, but teaching an older character about how the war has evolved is quite a different concept than a young man learning about the vastness of the galaxy for the first time. For many drafts, Luke’s name was some variant of “Annakin Starkiller,” and some early drafts even saw the character as a woman.
The Dark Side of the Force also once had a more colorful name. It was originally called the Bogan, which, to this author’s ear, is far more evocative than merely calling it “the Dark Side.” The Light Side of the Force, meanwhile, seems to have always remained the same.
Han Solo, the dandyish and none-too-trustworthy smuggler, was eventually a very human-looking character played by Harrison Ford. In Lucas’ original version, Han Solo was meant to be a space alien that looked very much like a frog. While one might be able to picture such a thing using modern CGI or motion capture, or perhaps in cel-animated form a la “Heavy Metal,” creating a frog alien in live-action in 1977 would have required technology that wasn’t quite yet available. Han Solo’s sidekick, Chewbacca, was always going to be tall, but wasn’t always sasquatch-adjacent. Some early concept art by Christopher McQuarrie saw the character as hairless and wearing a tunic, but Lucas eventually found the unexpected inspiration behind Chewbacca, namely his own dog.