I know this is the prequel thread but I’m gonna to go ahead and respond to Nev’s post.
You know, a lot of the swampy junkyard planet concept art is very cool and I know a lot of people wish we had gotten that over what we got, but to me, it makes less sense than what we got.
It wouldn’t take long for metal on a swamp planet to become corroded and useless. At least in the desert, it makes sense that even 30 years after all of these vehicles have been abandoned, that their parts have been pretty well preserved enough to still carry some value.
Sure, I know that in Star Wars visuals regularly trump logic (like how it would be impossible to even breathe on a planet like Mustafar, etc etc), this is enough for me to not be heartbroken over not getting a swampy Jakku.
I feel like there could’ve been a nice middle ground though. The locations they filmed at are fine, reals sets practical effects yada yada, but I feel that more CG elements could’ve been added to these worlds to give them more character.
Which, luckily, would still put those possibilities in the realm of fan editors.
Let’s look at three of TFA’s big planets: Jakku, Takodana, and Starkiller Base (D’Qar also briefly).
I feel like certain elements could be added to these worlds to set them more apart.
With Jakku, you could add even more wrecked vehicles, oases in the distance, ‘dust devil’ twisters, or large planets or moons in the sky, similar to what we see in that first piece of concept art. At the very least you could keep adding stuff in the background so we see visible junk in the distance of almost every shot, instead of empty deserts (the visual of the standing, derelict AT-AT’s is a pretty cool idea). Maybe more Star Destroyers, corellian corvettes and Mon Cala ships could be added in too. Or why not fields of dozens of downed TIEs or rebel fighters? It’s a junk planet, let’s see more junk!
With Takodana, Maz’s castle is suggested to be an ancient Jedi temple. The planet itself is said to be the site of a long-forgotten battle between the Jedi and the Sith. So what if you went the Jedha route and added more ancient ruins in the background and in the forests? Almost like the Númenorean ruins from Lord of the Rings. Or you could add more buildings out behind Maz’s castle to suggest there is a small village or town there (or a ruined city, like Valyria in Game of Thrones), and/or have more traffic coming and going over the lake. Maybe more exotic mountains could be added in the background, too.
With Starkiller, it is hinted at that the site of this First Order Base is actually Ilum, the ancient world where Jedi would collect the crystals for their lightsabers. So, maybe you could added distant Jedi ruins, like Takodana, or have large kyber crystals jutting out of the ground in various wide/establishing shots of the planet. You could have glowing crystals hanging from the ceiling of Snoke’s hologram chamber. I could even picture faintly glowing crystals sticking out of the ground here and there during the duel in the forest.
I also think adding a large gas giant somewhere near Starkiller could help downplay its scale, making its construction by the hidden First Order less questionable, while also being an ironic inverse of the fourth moon of Yavin. This time it is a moon, and a battle station!
I don’t have many ideas for D’Qar beyond trying to make its ring visible from the planet surface. Maybe we could recolor the plant life, maybe to yellow or orange, which would then make the planet look a different color from space? Heck, maybe if you could somehow add various autumn colors to either Takodana or D’Qar, it could help differentiate those planets. You could at least recolor D’Qar yellow/orange to help separate it from Takodana and Yavin, perhaps.
But rather than totally replacing or redesigning these planets, we could just lean even more heavily into what makes these planets interesting, in order to make them stand out more in our memories.
I think a big motivation to have the settings be more Earth-like was so that you could film in real locations, which means they will both feel real onscreen and benefit the actors’ performances, since they won’t be completely surrounded by green screen stages.
But, I feel like a good middle ground for the Sequel Trilogy would’ve been to film at real locations, but enhance those locations with CG elements. A nice middle ground between the OT and the PT.
I guess the big question would be how feasible would these ideas be, but I don’t think they’re totally out of the realm of possibility for all the creative people we have here.