Let's get this out of the way: George Lucas is a bona-fide genius. Not only did he create the most influential film franchise in pop culture history, but he also had the foresight to see that merchandising would be where the real money was at. The dude deserves a ton of respect -- he built a media empire, pushed VFX further than anyone before him, and was a pretty solid filmmaker.

But that was the problem. He was TOO good, and was thus given too much influence and power early on. No one could tell him "no" to anything. And, like many who are swayed by power, he became....weird. Like, real weird.

 

1. He's incredibly bitter about The Force Awakens

lucas charlie rose

You kind of can't blame Lucas for selling Star Wars. He poured his heart and soul into a creating universe he was passionate about, and everyone loved it. Until they didn't. However you feel about the Prequel Trilogy, it's hard to deny that the films are extremely... divisive. The neverending vitriol from fans probably got to Lucas eventually; in fact, he said as much just before selling off his franchise. In a way, the sale was a tacit admission that Star Wars belonged to someone else now: Everyone. Or more specifically, everyone at Disney. 

But as io9 pointed out in their brief timeline, Lucas appeared to become more and more bitter as the release of Episode VII approached. Some of it seems to have stemmed from when Lucas handed over his drafts of the Prequel Trilogy to the franchise's new caretakers; Disney, of course, politely turned away his treatments like the weird vegan lasagna at the company potluck. Though his initial interviews regarding The Force Awakens were generally optimistic, Lucas eventually winced at the prospect of actually sitting down and watching the thing: 

"I gotta go to the wedding. My ex will be there, my new wife will be there, but I'm going to have to take a very deep breath and be a good person and sit through it and just enjoy the moment, because it is what it is and it's a conscious decision that I made."

So okay, sounds like he's got some regrets, but he's dealing with them. Out loud, to a reporter. But still he's at least working through it and knows that he's made the bed he's sitting in. Aaaand then the movie came out.

TFA of course did bonkers business, and with each record it broke, another dash of salt was poured on Lucas' $4 billion wound. It all came to a head during his Christmastime interview with Charlie Rose.

All those Star Wars films ... I loved them, I created them, I'm very intimately involved in them, and I sold them to the white slavers that take these things and uh, and ... [laughs]

That [laughs] there is someone realizing they seriously fucked up, a moment of personal terror belonging to a person keenly aware that they just compared selling Star Wars to human trafficking. It's an abhorrent thing to say, but it sounds as though that's how George really felt -- that it's Disney's fault for buying his "children." What's especially odd is that the remark makes himself complicit in this "white slavery," since in this case he's the shitty parent who put his kid on the auction block. Lucas naturally apologized after the interview snippet spread, secretly hoping everyone remembered that he donated billions of his "white slavery" money to charity. 

 

2. He said the best Star Wars movie is actually the worst one

empire strikes back

It might not be your favorite Star Wars movie, but The Empire Strikes back is a favorite for both fans and critics alike. From its soundtrack to its dark and dramatic ending, pretty much everything about the movie has remained pretty damned iconic. So much of what the public thinks of when they hear "Star Wars" comes from TESB.

But Lucas doesn't think so. At the Publicist Guild Awards in 2007, he was handing out an award to one of his friends when he managed to sneak in a sharp backhanded compliment to one of the best movies ever.

"George Lucas, giving the award to Sid Ganis, who was the in-house publicist on Star Wars: Episode Five - The Empire Strikes Back, said, 'Sid is the reason why The Empire Strikes Back is always written about as the best of the films, when it actually was the worst one.'"

At this point, the Prequels had been made, so George is in fact asserting that the movie where Darth Vader tells Luke he's his father is actually worse than the one where Natalie Portman eats a CGI pear.

 

3. His original ideas for Return of the Jedi were insane

return of the jedi

If you're a huge Star Wars fan, you might have heard about the original "dark ending" to Return of the Jedi that never made it to the screen. This hypothetical climax saw Han Solo bite the dirt while Luke flew off alone, leaving Leia to pick up the pieces of a shattered republic. It's... actually a lot like what seems to have happened after RotJ, if The Force Awakens is any indication, 

But as it was, we got was some tribal teddy bears dancing around while some hologram ghosts smiled on. 

return of the jedi

The glowing dead Jedi are a tad campy, but still endearing (as long as one of them isn't Hayden Christensen). It's definitely less absurd than the proposed alternative, when Lucas was going to bring Yoda and Obi-Wan back to life from "the Netherworld" in order to join the celebration. There was even a treatment that saw the Jedi ghosts cheering Luke on the sidelines during the final battle. Another featured Obi attemping to return to life before his consciousness disappeared into the Force (apparently like everyone else who dies?). It was Obi-Wan who was supposed to be keeping the Emperor's power at bay, which would finally make sense of him "becoming more powerful than you can possibly imagine" in death. Instead, uh, that apparently meant he was whispering in Luke's ear. 

That's not even close to the end of the imagined insanity. At one point there were going to be TWO Death Stars in RoTJ, one of which the Rebels would blow up and the other would be destroyed in or around the same time Darth Vader death-hugged Palpatine into a pool of lava. It's all just so nuts that it's hard to even visualize properly. If Lucas operated like he did in the Prequel Trilogy, surrounding himself with Yes Men, we might have actually seen every part of this shitshow on the screen at once. It would have been a glorious shitshow, at least.

And we haven't even touched on the most ridiculous idea.

Lucas was reportedly talking to his screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan when he said:

"Luke takes his mask off. The mask is the very last thing -- and then Luke puts it on and says, 'Now I am Vader.' Surprise! The ultimate twist. 'Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe.'"

Kasdan actually agreed with Luke descending into darkness and giving a big Fuck You to the rest of the audience who sat through three movies rooting for the good guys. But Lucas obviously relented. "These movies are for kids," he explained. More specifically, kids with parents who will buy them Ewok toys.