Unused Star Wars art gave Padme an even darker ending

Darth Vader #27. Image courtesy StarWars.com
Darth Vader #27. Image courtesy StarWars.com /

The Star Wars prequels have aged like fine wine.

While the trilogy received its share of backlash when the three movies were first released in theaters, fans have begun to embrace them as well as the characters of the prequels in the last few years. The popularity of Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen among the fandom is clearly a testament to that.

Slowly but surely, the origin of the Skywalker saga and Anakin’s eventual turn to the Dark Side with the execution of Order 66 has become one of the most gut-wrenching yet beloved stories in sci-fi/fantasy history.

A young Anakin Skywalker and his camaraderie with Obi-Wan Kenobi was at the heart of the prequels, but it was Natalie Portman’s Padme Amidala who often kept the whole act glued together. Her very existence was highly catalytic for Anakin’s fall, albeit through no fault of her own.

In the end, she dies of a ‘broken heart’ after watching the love of her life turn into a Sith, walking down a path where she could not follow. She tries to talk him out of it, only to get strangulated and left unconscious.

The poetic closing scenes of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith shows her dying shortly after giving birth to Luke and Leia. At the same time, Anakin revives as Darth Vader, black helmet and all.

The death of Padme has been a matter of debate over the years. Many fans have said she deserved a better farewell, especially with her character fleshed out incredibly well in the The Clone Wars TV show.

Surprisingly, we almost had a different, more tragic ending for Padme, but it was rejected for the movie’s final version.

While speaking at the Academy of Art University event in 2016, Star Wars concept artist and character designer Iain McCaig revealed that an even darker fate awaited the former queen of Naboo in the alternative ending.

In a now-deleted video [via comicbook.com] McCaig described how the original story had Padme conspiring with the Separatists to stop Anakin and thus sowing the first seeds of the Rebellion. She even attempts to kill Anakin herself but fails at the last moment to overpower the love she has for him. He states:

"[Anakin] leaves. Moments later, in come the Separatists and right behind his back, [Padme] is starting the Rebellion to overthrow him. Because Padme can see the he is becoming a monster. At the end, on Mustafar, when she goes to see [Anakin], she has a knife in her hands. She gets off the ship with the knife, she runs up and throws her arms around him, and he lets her. She’s got the knife to the back of [Anakin’s] neck and she’s going to kill him. [Again], he lets her. But she can’t do it. She loves him too much to stop him, even when he becomes the monster."

The rest of the movie plays out as intended, but it gives a much-needed foundation for Anakin’s sense of betrayal and Padme’s eventual demise. The idea was conveyed in an unused concept art where Padme is seen in a dark red cloak confronting Anakin on Mustafar.

A character like Padme Amidala certainly deserved an adios like this – to go out on her shield, standing for what she thoroughly believed as a human and as a senator. Sure, it would have made the movie even darker, on top of all the deaths – “not just the men, but the women and children too.” But it would have probably satisfied the Star Wars fans more if Lucasfilm decided to go ahead with it.