The Force Awakens was a great movie. We were all swept up in the high adventure as the mysterious scavenger Rey teamed up with defecting stormtrooper Finn, stole the Millennium Falcon to the delight of Han Solo, and took on the evil First Order. There were space battles, there were lightsaber fights — there was everything you'd expect from a #StarWars movie... including the plot from a previous Star Wars movie.
If there was one major complaint against #TheForceAwakens, it's that the plot structure was just too similar to A New Hope. Hitting all the same story beats to the point where it was basically the same movie rebooted, the repetition really grated on many people — though some argued that the similarities were essential to tap into our nostalgia for the original movies.
Will 'The Last Jedi' Be An 'Empire' Reboot?
But if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that the next movie in the current trilogy, Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, must not make the same mistake. The recent trailer drop fired up the debate again, thanks to the teaser's significantly darker tone.
The trailer certainly suggested a shift in the status quo, a sense of things getting more difficult for our heroes after their first victory. Put that together with Rey training with Luke Skywalker (just like he trained with Yoda), and Luke's apparent doom-and-gloom mentality — not to mention the AT-ATs ominously approaching across a stark white landscape — and The Last Jedi already has a few parallels with The Empire Strikes Back.
This has prompted many fans to preemptively criticize Star Wars Episode VIII, even throwing complaints at Johnson on Twitter. Never one to back down from a conversation with fans, Johnson struck back at the would-be critics with a pithy Tweet.
Johnson's sarcasm is obvious as he ridicules the idea that he would spend such a long time crafting his impact on the Star Wars franchise, only to copy what came before.
To be honest, copying what came before isn't really a Star Wars trope so much as it is a JJ Abrams trope — fans had the same criticisms about Abrams' Star Trek movies copying the iconic Wrath Of Khan... twice. And so far, all signs point towards The Last Jedi being one of the most original Star Wars films yet.
A New Take On Star Wars
Ironically, this whole Tweet chain was started by Collider's discussion of the fact that Rian Johnson is doing something different with The Last Jedi — specifically, that Luke's character has been altered significantly since the original trilogy. Mark Hamill actually had some quibbles with Luke's jaded, grim outlook, as he told ABC:
"When I read 'Eight,' I told Rian 'I fundamentally disagree with virtually everything you've decided about my character'. But it might be a good sign! I was really wrong about 7; I said, 'When I turn around [at the end], the audience is going to hoot and holler because it's such an obvious cheat.'"
It's easy to see where Hamill is coming from. Luke is a really interesting and beloved character because of his stubborn optimism, his sensitivity and compassion. These character traits drove the original trilogy because Luke refused to hearken to Yoda's warnings — he believed he could save his friends and his father and that's exactly what he did. Eventually.
But that was a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away). By the time The Last Jedi rolls around, Luke's new Jedi order has been slaughtered by his own nephew and the galaxy has fallen under the control of yet another fascist regime. If Luke were still that starry eyed kid we love so much, this would be rather unrealistic.
Besides, we don't actually know what Luke's shocking statement about ending the Jedi actually means. At first glance, it's easy to take this as Luke just being depressed and afraid about failing again.
Yet, it seems more likely that this is Luke taking a groundbreaking step in a new direction — that the Jedi must end in order to restore balance to the galaxy, making way for a new kind of Force user and allowing Rey to forge her own path.
From what we know already about The Last Jedi's plot, it seems that most of the plot will consist of Rey learning Force lore, in a story that pulls together a bunch of Jedi elements from previous movies and books — from Force sensitive trees to the Guardians of the Whills. Rey could even discover the origin of the Force and how the Jedi came to be.
What Is The Last Jedi About? Read On:
- Rey Discovers Force Secrets In New 'Star Wars 8' Footage
- 'The Last Jedi' Implies Rey Won't Follow Luke's Footsteps
- Luke May Reveals The Origin Of The Force In 'Star Wars 8'
While, granted, these are all just bits and pieces with no context, it certainly seems that much of The Last Jedi will be an exploration of what the Force is and what it means to be a Jedi. Not only does this suggest that Luke isn't quite as jaded as he seems, it's also something we haven't seen before. The Last Jedi could very well change everything we think we know about the Force and the Jedi, setting up a thrilling conclusion to the franchise in which the Jedi age really does end — and a new era of balance begins.
Now I don't know about you, but that doesn't really sound like Empire to me.
Do you think 'The Last Jedi' will be too similar to 'Empire'?
[Poll image credit: Lucasfilm]