Star Wars has featured planets that are entirely deserts. There’s been planets that are made up entirely of ice, and planets that are made up entirely of forest. But in 1999, with the release of The Phantom Menace, Star Wars introduced a planet that was made up entirely of a single city for the first time. Or was it the first time? The idea of a capital city planet for the Empire has existed almost as long as Star Wars itself has existed, though it didn’t always look like it does today. Coruscant’s evolution through the years has made it one of the most interesting planets in the Star Wars galaxy.
The idea of a capital planet for the Galactic Empire existed right from the very beginning, with some early drafts of the original movie featuring scenes that took place on a capital planet (at the time called Alderaan), but supposedly the budget for the movie didn’t allow for the planet, so much of the action in those scenes was moved to the Death Star to cut down on the number of settings in the movie, and the name Alderaan was given to Leia’s homeworld.
Later, during the early production of Return of the Jedi, the idea for a Capital planet was again considered for the movie. This time the name of the planet was tentatively going to be Had Abbadon, and as far as we can tell, this is the first time that the idea for the Empire’s home world being a single city that encompassed an entire planet was brought up. Ultimately Had Abbadon was not put into Return of the Jedi, but interestingly enough, the idea behind the planet eventually did make it into the movie. In 1997, when the special edition of Return of the Jedi was released, a quick scene was added to the end of the movie where the downfall of the Empire was being celebrated on multiple planets. One of those planets was Coruscant, making Return of the Jedi the first movie that the planet ever appeared in.
While the city-wide planet didn’t make it into the movie in 1983, Coruscant did become very relevant to the Star Wars expanded universe in 1991, with the planet’s official introduction to the Star Wars universe in 1991 with Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire. While Zahn has been credited with creating the planet over the years, he has always maintained that the real truth is more nuanced than that. The idea of a planet wide city had been a George Lucas idea since at least the production of Return of the Jedi, if not earlier. Zahn got the idea from collaborating with West End Games who were responsible for developing the Star Wars expanded universe for the role playing game. According to Zahn, the West End Games source material did have a planet listed as “Imperial Planet” that was meant to be the capital of the Galactic Empire, but Zahn was the one to actually give that planet a name, with Coruscant first appearing in Heir to the Empire.
While other entries in the expanded universe would also feature Coruscant in the following years, there was some inconsistencies as to what a planet wide city looked like. For example, in the Black Fleet Crisis trilogy, the planet was described as having two distinct continents, one large and one small, with the city in question encompassing the entirety of the large continent. The comic adaptation of Shadows of the Empire released in 1996 showed a view of the planet from space with both forest and water visible on the planet’s surface, not unlike how earth would appear from space.
It wasn’t until 1999, with the release of The Phantom Menace, that the image of a planet with buildings covering every possible inch of the surface became the standard for Coruscant, that would continue to today. It’s interesting to note that the appearance of Coruscant in The Phantom Menace not only solidified what the planet should look like, but how it should be pronounced as well. Most audiobooks of expanded universe novels throughout the 1990s would pronounce the last syllable of the planet with a hard c sound, like “kant.” However, once the planet was a part of the movies as well, the pronunciation with a soft c, “sant,” became the official way to pronounce the ending syllable of Coruscant.
Throughout the prequel trilogy, and into the new Disney canon, the appearance of Coruscant has remained relatively consistent, but its journey from an idea in an early draft of the original script, to the planet we know today, is one of the most interesting of any Star Wars planet.