– by Joseph Jammer Medina

The Empire Strikes Back is widely acknowledged as the best Star Wars film in the series. It manages to retain the spirit of that first film, while still allowing things to go in a much darker direction. Rather than simply try and recapture what the first movie accomplished, it actually went and paved new territory and told its own story.

So influential was the film that it’s since gone on to become shorthand for a second film that manages to exceed the quality of the first. It’s pretty much the bar by which all sequels are compared. This certainly doesn’t help Star Wars: The Last Jedi in terms of expectations. Yes, it’s the second in a trilogy that started with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but with The Empire Strikes Back looming large as THE sequel to beat, comparisons are undoubtedly being made among fans and outlets.

Director Rian Johnson is more than aware of this, and although the structure of the film is somewhat comparable to that of Empire, he maintains that it wasn’t intentional.

“I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to. But look, Rey is off in a remote location with a Jedi master, and the Resistance is in a tough spot, and we’re intercutting those stories. By its very nature, there are some structural parallels. But these are new characters, they’re dealing with new things, and that ultimately is what defines the movie. So I think that’s going to be unique.”

Of course, Johnson can say it was unintentional all day, but when all said and done, it’ll be up to the audience as to whether or not it comes across as a complete retread. As strong as Star Wars: The Force Awakens was, the biggest criticism was that it was pretty much an updated version of the first. While that was all well and good for that film, we’re not sure fans would be so forgiving the second time around.

What do you think of Johnson’s comments? Are you concerned that the film will indeed be another retread? Let us know in the comments down below!

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.