'The Last Jedi' Vs. 'The Empire Strikes Back' Show Just How Much These Movies Really Are Alike
Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens rebooted the Star Wars franchise, the comparisons to A New Hope, the film that started it all, were immediate. And now it's time for fans to compare The Last Jedi, the second film in this new trilogy, to the follow up to A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back. And while the Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back similarities are a bit less obvious, they're still big enough that any Force-sensitive fan will be able to spot them.
The Last Jedi follows the model of The Empire Strikes Back while also differentiating itself from what came before. Unlike The Force Awakens, which was heavily inspired by the pacing and plot developments of A New Hope, The Last Jedi doesn't recreate the plot points of The Empire Strikes Back too closely. What similarities it does share with the second film of the original trilogy, it moves around and alters just enough to create different and new story arcs. Kylo Ren, the villain of the new trilogy, for example, follows an entirely different character development than Darth Vader in The Last Jedi. And beats the films do share, like the attack on a Rebel base and the separation of our main heroes, are moved around and tweaked to create a brand new story. That said, when examining The Last Jedi vs The Empire Strikes Back, there are some crucial similarities that deserve a closer look.
1. Jedi Training
Like Luke in Empire Strikes Back, Rey must do her Jedi training in The Last Jedi. (And like Luke, Rey has a pretty grumpy teacher.) The new film switches it up, putting Luke in Yoda's extremely tiny shoes, with him taking the mentor role for the new generation. However, the Jedi training is also quite different. Where Luke lacked in raw power, Rey exceeds, and while Yoda was an enthusiastic teacher, Luke is much more pessimistic about passing on the ways of the Jedi.
2. Wisdom, Yoda Gives
In one of the most delightful surprises of The Last Jedi, Yoda returns as a Force ghost to help Luke see the right path. He helps Luke burn down the ancient Jedi temple and texts, telling him that the Jedi of the past are over, but the Jedi still have a future in Rey. He encourages Luke to learn from his failures with Kylo, and even alludes to his classic "Do or do not. There is no try" mantra.
3. Lando Carlissian 2.0
DJ, a new mysterious character played by Benicio del Toro in The Last Jedi is reminiscent of Lando Carlissian. A man who operates on the fringes outside of the battle between the Resistance and the First Order, DJ certainly has some similarities to Lando.
4. It's A Trap
DJ really follows through on the Lando comparison by double crossing Resistance fighters Finn and Rose. Granted there are a few major differences between DJ and Lando. Lando delivered Han, Leia, Chewie, and C-3PO to Darth Vader willfully, whereas DJ appears to have cut a deal with the First Order only after having been caught with the Resistance. Still, a betrayal is a betrayal.
5. Lightsaber Duel
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker share what is probably one of the most iconic lightsaber duels in Star Wars history in the climactic moment of The Empire Strikes Back. In The Last Jedi, there is one major lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo Ren that harkens back to the classic Empire Strikes Back showdown. The fight solidifies Rey's resolve as a hero for the Resistance and enhances her sense of self by revealing one very crucial piece of information about her parentage, just as the battle between Luke and Darth Vader did for him.
6. Family Secrets Exposed
Like Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, Rey learns a crucial piece of information about her parents in The Last Jedi. The bad news: Kylo Ren tells Rey that he saw her parents through their Force connection and they're nobodies. The good news: Rey escapes him with all of her limbs intact.
7. Resistance Base Attacked
A major plot point of The Empire Strikes Back is the Empire's attack on the Rebel base on Hoth, an ice planet. Similarly, The Last Jedi culminates in an attack on a rebel base on Crait, a salt mining planet. The two share obvious visual parallels — the white snow and white salt offer a magical white setting for the battles. The First Order also breaks out their new AT-M6 walkers for the fight on Crait, a callback to the AT-AT walkers used by the Empire on Hoth.
Many fans will enjoy all the parallels between The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back. Others will find it too similar or not similar enough. As Star Wars fans are wont to do, audiences will probably be fighting about the film in comparison to its original trilogy counterpart for years to come. Wherever you come down on the spectrum, it's clear that director Rian Johnson knew that, as the second installment in a Star Wars trilogy, The Last Jedi had big shoes to fill, and that's really all anyone can ask for.