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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How 'The Last Jedi' Can Distance Itself from 'The Empire Strikes Back'

It's incredibly common for big-budget movie sequels to be compared to The Empire Strikes Back; just ask Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, or the untitled Jurassic World sequel. It's the perfect model for a sequel that's bigger, darker, and widely considered to be better than its predecessor. But for The Last Jedi, this comparison isn't a compliment.
Since the greatest complaint about The Force Awakens is its similarity to A New Hope, pessimistic fans are quick to accuse The Last Jedi of doing the same thing with The Empire Strikes Back. And the glimpses of the film we've seen so far have done little to doubt this. Like Empire, The Last Jedi will be a darker film that splits up our heroes as one of them trains with an old Jedi master while the others visit a fancy city with a sinister underbelly. 

Everything we've heard about the movie has also indicated that the First Order will indeed be striking back. Despite their crushing defeat at Starkiller Base, they'll be coming at the Resistance with an enormous Star Destroyer, Executioner stormtroopers, Heavy Assault Walkers, elite Praetorian Guards, and the Knights of Ren. Heck, even Captain Phasma is getting a new weapon (seen below). 
No matter what, The Last Jedi will have some parallels to Empire, and the truth about Rey's family promises to be as shocking and dramatic a twist as "I am your father." But what sets the two films apart is in their titles; Empire's puts the focus on the villains avenging their previous defeat, while The Last Jedi's is about Luke and the (overdue) expiration of the Jedi Order. 

The greatest thing that Episode VIII has to accomplish to distance itself from Episode V is deliver on its title and give Luke a key role that can't be easily compared to Yoda's. And that really shouldn't be hard to do; unlike Yoda, Luke will be an integral part of the film from its opening moments, and it's pretty unlikely that he'll just stay behind on Ahch-To while Rey leaves to save her friends. We also know there's a conflict within him and a reluctance to train Rey that Yoda never had.
This one's a little less likely, but what if the end of The Last Jedi was also drastically different from Empire's? Instead of a bittersweet conclusion with one of the heroes in peril and the others determined to save him, the film's ending could be a complete game changer. Luke's paternal revelation was an incredibly emotional moment for him, but what if Rey's had such an impact on her that she actually fell to the Dark Side?
Both she and Kylo Ren are tempted by both sides of the Force, so they could even end up switching sides during or after their climactic rematch. An ending with Rey now aligned with Snoke and Kylo happily reunited with his mother and uncle would certainly set the stage for an explosive Episode IX and subvert most fan expectations.

How do you think The Last Jedi can distance itself from The Empires Strikes Back? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

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