How Star Wars: The Last Jedi Will—and Won’t—Echo The Empire Strikes Back – Vanity Fair
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Finn has an important decision to make: will he ditch the group that took him in after he deserted the Empire? It hardly feels like a spoiler to say that of course he won’t—but according to Entertainment Weekly, the ex-Stormtrooper does think about it. Per E.W.’s new preview of the movie, Finn will also meet a fan, of sorts, who works as a mechanic behind the scenes for the Resistance: Rose Tico (played by Kelly Marie Tran). Once he sees that Rose idolizes him as a hero, Finn has something to live up to—or, at least, an image of himself that he can try to live up to.
This subplot—as well as a few other threads that have been teased from the Star Wars saga’s next installment—prompts another question: just how much of this film’s plot will be cribbed from The Empire Strikes Back?
When The Force Awakens hit theaters in 2015, some critics argued that the film borrowed too much from the original Star Wars trilogy, particularly the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. Rogue One, by contrast, was praised for doing the exact opposite, adopting a tone distinct from those of the Star Wars films that had come before it. (As an anthology film, and not a part of the main arc, Gareth Edwards’s outing had the room to do just that.)
So it’s no surprise that as The Last Jedi nears its debut this December, curiosity is brewing about just how much it too might emulate the other Star Wars films—especially the second movie in the first trilogy, given The Force Awakens’s similarities to A New Hope. Last year, Adam Driver even indicated that the new film has a similar feel to The Empire Strikes Back—a comment that made waves online, forcing the actor to clarify that he did not mean the film mimicked Empire per se, but rather that it differed in tone from its predecessor, much like Empire did.
Yet these new plot details indicate that the similarities may run deeper than that. Finn’s spurned desire to leave his friends seems like an obvious parallel to to the character arc of Han Solo, who was also getting ready to zip off into space at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. Then again, Han had to settle a debt with Jabba the Hutt; it seems that Finn wants to leave mainly because things got way too real in the last movie, between Han getting killed by his son, Kylo Ren, and his own injury from a lightsaber attack. There’s also, so far, no budding romantic plot between Finn and any of the other characters, unless you enjoy reading very deep between the lines.
Director Rian Johnson has also assured E.W. that any parallels between the two films are unintentional:
“I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to,” Johnson told E.W. “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.”
For those who need a refresher: Luke spent a good portion of Empire training with Yoda on Dagobah, after that very cold night inside a tauntaun. Similarly, Rey will be training with Luke himself on Ahch-To in Last Jedi. Per E.W., there’s also one other similarity between the two films: Finn and Rose, like Han and Leia in Empire, will go on a trip to an exotic locale. In Empire, it was a visit to Billy Dee Williams’s Lando Calrissian in Cloud City; in Last Jedi, Finn and Rose will head to “the casino metropolis of Canto Bight, on the world of Cantonica.”
“The whole city is kind of one sort of luxury resort that’s been built on this very otherwise abandoned, arid planet,” Johnson told E.W. “It’s like Vegas with aliens. So maybe it is just like Vegas.”
Still, Johnson’s point is important and valid: there may be a few plot parallels, but that does not mean these films will feel identical. The dynamic between Rose and her sister, Paige (Veronica Ngo), sounds like something we haven’t seen in the Star Wars universe yet; per E.W., while Rose lives in the shadows, her sister enjoys more of the spotlight as a Resistance gunner. Although Luke and Leia eventually discovered they were siblings, they didn’t grow up together, which meant we’ve never seen them engaged in sibling rivalry; if anything, their relationship originally bordered on something far creepier in retrospect. And as long as Rose and Finn don’t become a couple, their relationship will also differ from the closest analogue that exists for it in Empire: Han and Leia.
More information will undoubtedly come in the months-long wait to come—so in the meantime, perhaps it’s time to stop hand-wringing about Empire, sit back, relax, and just look at some porgs.