Remember when The Force Awakens came out and people kept comparing it to A New Hope? (And rightfully so, because there are a lot of similarities — like, the hero’s father figure being slain in each, to name just one.) Considering this, it seemed inevitable that people would compare The Last Jedi to The Empire Strikes Back.
Last Jedi is super fresh, and brings a lot to the Star Wars universe that hasn’t been seen before. But yes, there is some overlap. These are the middle films we’re talking about, so it was bound to happen, right? RIGHT, and what stands out right off the bat is the Jedi training in both films.
In Empire Strikes Back, Luke spends a good portion of the film training with none other than Jedi Master Yoda in Dagobah.
That is, once Yoda reluctantly agrees to take Luke on as a student — at Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Force ghost request. In Last Jedi, Luke reluctantly takes Rey, who sought the recluse out at Leia’s request, on as a student on the remote island of Ahch-To. Where they differ, though, is that Yoda embraces the traditional Jedi life. Luke, meanwhile, has rejected it — and teaches Rey with the intention of showing her why the ways of the Jedi should be abandoned.
And speaking of Yoda…he makes a surprise return as a Force ghost in Last Jedi! The lean, green Force-ful machine returns when Luke is in crisis. Rey had just left to try and turn Kylo Ren to the Light after discovering that Luke nearly killed him during his training because he sensed a great darkness in him — in effect, contributing to Ben Solo’s transformation into Kylo Ren. Yoda returns to burn the sacred Jedi texts and give Luke some much needed advice: While the old Jedi life is dying, a new type of Jedi is rising — and Rey already knows everything she needs to know, so the texts are sort of irrelevant (and not exactly page turners).
But perhaps the biggest connection between Last Jedi and Empire Strikes Back is the whole parentage reveal.
Empire Strikes Back, of course, has one of the biggest twists in film history: Darth Vader is Luke’s father. In Last Jedi, we learn that Rey’s parents are “nobodies” — well, at least according to Kylo Ren. Now, it’s *possible* that he isn’t being truthful. If Rey is the Light rising to combat his Dark, then would he really want to clue her in on any parents that are potentially also strong with the Force? Let’s not rule that out. Still, whether he’s telling the truth or not, there’s definitely a ~moment~ about Rey’s parents and that feels very Empire Strikes Back.
Along with the “reveal,” Kylo Ren tries to convince Rey to abandon the Resistance and join him, so they can basically rule the galaxy together. That sound a little familiar?
OF COURSE IT DOES.
There are more similarities than the above — the Empire and First Order both strike back, and lightspeed plays a role in each, although that’s pretty constant in a lot of Star Wars films — but seriously, what makes Last Jedi so great is how original it is, while still feeling very true to the series. Kudos, Rian Johnson.