Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader’s lightsaber duel at the Death Star in A New Hope played out differently in the original Star Wars script.
A New Hope, originally called just Star Wars, almost featured a Force duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Given how much the Star Wars action sequences, especially the lightsaber duels, have evolved since the original movie, the Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan fight at the Death Star can now feel a bit anticlimactic. However, it is important to remember that there were limitations to what George Lucas could do in the first Star Wars.
In theory, a Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan lightsaber duel should be the pinnacle of what a Jedi vs. Sith battle can deliver. That said, there can be found in-universe reasons as to why Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s fight at the Death Star is so slow and limited. One is that both Obi-Wan and Darth Vader were past their prime, not to mention how Vader must have been extra careful during the duel after his last two fight major fights against Obi-Wan.
The Original Star Wars Script Reveals A Different Death Star Duel
The late Peter Mayhew, who originally played Chewbacca in Star Wars, once shared pages of the original Star Wars script (via Twitter). In that version, Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s Death Star duel played out differently from what was seen in the movie. A New Hope‘s original script strongly suggests that Darth Vader tried to launch a telekinetic attack on Obi-Wan, which Kenobi resisted. The script mentions how Obi-Wan was “under increasing pressure and strain” after the duel started, “as if an invisible weight were being placed in front of him”. That description perfectly fits into what is now often referred to as “Force push”.
Darth Vader’s attempt of using something like a Force push on Obi-Wan would have failed, but Obi-Wan would still have struggled to free himself from the telekinetic block. This initial Force duel would set the stage for the actual lightsaber fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, which would then have been most similar to the final movie – except for the ending. Obi-Wan survived the fight against Vader in the original Star Wars script, as the Jedi Master would escape right before trapping Darth Vader in the tunnel. Obi-Wan would have boarded the Millenium Falcon, which would still carry a tracking device.
Darth Vader’s Dialogue Worked Better In The Original Script
Darth Vader’s “Your powers are weak… old man” line was in the movie, but it works much better in the original script. In A New Hope, it seems like Darth Vader was able to analyze Obi-Wan’s current power levels just by standing close to the Jedi Master. In the original script, however, Darth Vader only says that Obi-Wan’s powers are weak after almost succeeding in stopping the Jedi Master using the Force only. Obi-Wan would have struggled to move after Vader’s Force push, shaking and blinking according to the script. That is how Darth Vader would have realized that Obi-wan’s powers had gotten “weak”.
Thinking of Obi-Wan and Vader’s A New Hope duel in-universe, their encounter at the Death Star was likely the first one since the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale. The Obi-Wan Kenobi show took place nine years before the events of A New Hope, and Obi-Wan’s skills were much closer to his Star Wars prequels days than to what he would show at the Death Star. While Obi-Wan had not used the Force in years by the time he found out Anakin was alive, Obi-Wan Kenobi was far closer to showing Obi-Wan at his prime than A New Hope. Curiously, Obi-Wan and Vader had a brief Force showdown during their Obi-Wan Kenobi fight.
Star Wars Legends Built Upon The Ideas From The Original Star Wars Script
Why the Jedi or the Sith don’t use “Force push” regularly during a battle is a question that is often taken as a Star Wars plothole. For example, if Kylo Ren was able to throw Rey against a tree in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, why could not he do the same after Rey wielded the lightsaber? The question may be in the original Star Wars script. Darth Vader was trying to use the Force against Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan was able to resist. Therefore, Star Wars almost established from the start the Force telekinesis would not always work against another Force-sensitive.
Drew Karpyshyn’s novel Path of Destruction, which was published as part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe and is no longer canon, established that Force-sensitives could create shields around themselves to prevent telekinetic attacks from other Force-sensitive opponents. Stronger Force-sensitives are sometimes able to break the Force shield, which is why Jedi and Sith do not always just throw their opponents away. Path of Destruction seemed to have borrowed from that original version of the script, or at least found a very sensible reason as to why the Jedi and the Sith resort to lightsaber duels when facing other Force-sensitive warriors.