The significance of the name “Starkiller” in Star Wars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)..Photo: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)..Photo: Film Frames Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. /

Before the Skywalker name became synonymous with the Star Wars Universe, there was another, and slightly, similar name that George Lucas penned in the early drafts of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: “Starkiller.”

Luke Skywalker was originally going to be named “Luke Starkiller” in the early drafts of the 1977 film. However, according to an article in Yahoo! ,  Lucas would eventually change the name to “Skywalker” due to what the creator would refer to as “unpleasant connotations.”

“That I did because I felt a lot of people were confusing him with someone like Charles Manson, It has very unpleasant connotations,” Lucas said during The Making of Star Wars TV special. The quote was found by Yahoo! when Skywalker’s portrayer, Mark Hamil, mentioned the Starkiller name during a Twitter Q&A.

In the tweet, Hamil revealed a fascinating fact that he was still “Luke Starkiller” when the scenes of Princess Leia’s (portrayed by Carrie Fisher)  rescue on the Death Star were being shot. Furthermore, “Starkiller” would be changed to “Skywalker” in the middle of filming.

Charles Manson was a cult leader who became notorious for murdering an up and coming actress named Sharon Tate, and many others, in the late 1960s. Manson would be put on trial for his crimes well into the 1970s which would be the same decade Star Wars would hit theaters.

While the “Starkiller” name was scrubbed out of A New Hope, it would not be the last time it would be used in the Star Wars lore. Several characters, vehicles, and weapons would bore the name “Starkiller.”

Notably in the Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the First Order’s superweapon (formerly the planet Ilum) that succeeded the Galactic Empire’s Death Star would be named Starkiller Base as would its star system in the Unknown Regions.

In Legends, Darth Vader’s secret Sith apprentice Galen Marek, and his clone, (both portrayed by Sam Witwer)  would both be codenamed “Starkiller.” Jimm Doshun, a teenage character from the 1977 Star Wars comics, who had a striking resemblance to Luke, would proclaim himself as “The Starkiller Kid.” Furthermore, in the Legends video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Gorse Bendak, a Mandalorian gladiator during the days of the Old Republic, fought under the alias “Bendak Starkiller.” In West End Games’ Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, like bounty hunter Leshy Drobo’s ship would also be named Starkller.

In 2013, Darkhorse comics would release The Star Wars which was an eight-issue comic book series that chronicled the early drafts of A New Hope and had characters that would be named “Starkiller.” The comics featured characters Kane, Annikin, and Deak Starkiller all who would be incorporated into Luke and Anakin Skywalker. The comic also featured Luke Skywalker as a grizzled old JediBendu general who would eventually become  the inspiration behind Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.

One has to wonder what the Star Wars saga would have been like had George Lucas never changed the Starkiller name. One could even argue that the name Starkiller wouldn’t fit a character as heroic as Luke Skywalker.