We're only a week away from the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and it's becoming clear that despite the successful success of The Force Awakens director Rian Johnson may have a even more difficult task in his hands that JJ Abrams did when resurrecting the franchise. Because while The Force Awakens could rest on their laurels essentially remixing A New Hope The Last Jedi has a much more formidable task: it needs not to remake The Empire Strikes Back .
That is not a small task. Comparisons between The Last Jedi and Empire have been flying since the credits came to an end The Force Awakens . Star Adam Driver has said that Last Jedi "has a different tone" from the first movie, like Empire . And Johnson is aware of the problem, commenting Entertainment Weekly "I just tried to ignore that aspect [theparallels Empire ] and I have the story take the shape it needs." But he also recognizes that "by their very nature, there are some structural parallels." There is some room for concern, at least based on the small pieces of information we know Last Jedi. You can draw a line from Rey looking for Lucas to train Luke who sees Yoda, or between the Resistance colliding with a Bloody First Order but in no way defeated in the same way that the Empire returned as a resurgent force against the rebels And with the mystery of King's unknown kinship, there is even room for another great act in third place. "No, I am your father," they reveal. Add it all up with the visually and tonally darker trims the trailers have shown, and there's a lot of potential for The Empire Strikes Back to strike back once again.
But to follow Empire too closely is not just a problem from Star Wars . The idea that a sequel should be "the Empire Strikes Back of the series" has become prevalent throughout the entertainment industry, and that's not a good thing.
There are literally dozens of examples. J.A. Bayona described his next Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom as the Empire of the dinosaur series restarted. Dean DuBois called Empire as a guiding star when describing his objectives for How to train your dragon 2 . Wes Ball called The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials " Empire Strikes Back from this series of three films." Screenwriter Chris Terrio called Batman v Superman "a bit of Empire Strikes Back ."
Nor are they just movies. Video games do too: BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk compared Mass Effect 2 Empire when he mocked that sequel, and game designer Antoine Thisdale told Polygon that was a touchstone when he promoted Deus Ex: Mankind Divided . Even the comic-book writer Grant Morrison twisted the analogy when he mocked his next graphic novel Wonder Woman: Earth Two on Comic-Con this year.
I'm even guilty of doing it myself when I speculate about the future of the franchise Fantastic Beasts
Look, The Empire Strikes Back is a very good movie. It could be one of the best sequels to a great franchise ever made. He successfully takes the 1977 characters to New Hope and delves them in interesting ways, striking the good guys almost constantly, instead of just giving them another series of wins. And it offers one of the most famous torsional endings in the cinema.
But creatively, the use of Empire as a going template has become increasingly vague. The first movie did not make it so hot? Make it darker and more serious. Do you need fans to be buzzing? Add a turn at the end. Ignore the fact that Empire worked well as a sequel to Star Wars and was a product of the direction and needs of that specific franchise. Trying to recreate it again and again, or simply arbitrarily grafting its darker tone and ending up with a pessimistic tone above all, seems like a dead end.
Circumstances may be a bit different with The Last Jedi . Even if all the sequels were not like Empire it could be said that making a film like it would be the perfect follow-up to a movie that already reflected the original beat of Star Wars . But the public already already saw that movie. In fact, given the popularity of The Empire Strikes Back it is likely that Last Jedi the ticket holders have already seen it many, many times. And we've already seen what a modern, remixed movie looks like Star Wars ; there is simply no reason to follow exactly the same path once again, apart from nostalgia or creative cowardice.
Fortunately, Johnson is particularly suited to forging a new way forward. The filmmaker has specialized in the reinvention of the familiar, with his films Brick, Brothers Bloom and Looper breathing new life in black movies, reckless capers and dystopian science fiction in the journey in time. If he can perform the same trick with Star Wars it will be a breath of fresh air for the franchise as a whole.
The most encouraging thing is how he talked about the Empire at the conference press release last weekend The Last Jedi . "The second movie in a trilogy, I think we've been trained to expect it to be a bit darker, and obviously [ The Last Jedi ] looks a little darker," he acknowledged. "[But] First of all, we were trying to make it feel like a movie Star Wars And that means you have the intensity, and you have the opera, but it also means that it makes you leave the theater wanting Run in your backyard, and grab your toys from the spaceship and fly them in. That's a key ingredient, so let's go to some intense places in the movie, but I hope it's fun and fun as well. "
And who knows? If The Last Jedi really manages to forge something unique, we may find ourselves having a different conversation in a few decades. Instead of everyone trying to cheat The Empire Strikes Back maybe we will have directors who boast how their sequels are going to be the Last Jedi of a series.