A lot of early “Star Wars” sketches and ideas leaked into later films. The name Starkiller was eventually applied to the Starkiller Base in “The Force Awakens.” One can even see parallels in small details. For instance, the original title of “Return of the Jedi” was “Revenge of the Jedi.” That title was somewhat repurposed in the mid-’00s for “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.”
There doesn’t seem to be any reason to have made Luke male, so the change must remain unexplained. Perhaps George Lucas merely wanted Luke to resemble himself as a young man. Perhaps he wanted to give a romantic interest to his lead character, and felt a new character — a princess in distress — was more appropriate for his story; when Luke was female there wasn’t yet a Princess Leia in the script. Whatever the reason, Annakin Starkiller became a male, then was ultimately turned into the Luke Skywalker we know today.
Other sketches from the same uncovered trove reveal a few other notable changes. Darth Vader’s helmet, for instance, once left his eyes visible. The respirator on his face was also elongated, perhaps to more closely resemble a gas mask.
An early storyboard also showed that Obi-Wan Kenobi, the “old sage” character played by Sir Alec Guinness, was initially meant to survive his lightsaber confrontation with the villainous Darth Vader. It seems that he was going to rejoin the action and continue to give advice to Luke for the rest of the movie. One can argue whether or not this would have made “Star Wars” better or worse.
Given the tinkering done in the mid-’70s, it seems that we could have had any number of “Star Wars” movies. Let’s hope we got the best one.