The Empire Strikes Back, the second entry in the original Star Wars trilogy, is rightfully considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Not only is it a daring follow-up to a beloved space opera, but it also set the groundwork for how modern blockbuster sequels are made. After all, the darkest chapter of Luke Skywalker’s fight against The Empire didn’t become a cultural milestone for nothing.
While’s almost perfect even by today’s standards, there are some parts of The Empire Strikes Back that didn’t age well after they were first seen in 1980. That’s not to say that the sequel’s legendary status has been suddenly revoked, but these aged aspects provide a good case study for retrospective analysis. Here are 10 things about The Empire Strikes Back that didn’t age well but don’t affect the overall quality.
10 “I Am Your Father”
The Empire Strikes Back is known for a single legendary moment, and that’s when Darth Vader says the words “No, I am your father” to a devastated Luke. Too bad almost everybody misquotes it.
Like a game of telephone gone awry, Darth Vader’s revelation has been garbled after years of repetition. Many people would say “Luke, I am your father” without realizing the slight error in their quotation, though the line’s impact remains the same. And while Empire didn’t start it, the paternal twist has become a cliché of its own thanks to the movie’s countless imitators.
9 The Special Edition
Previously, the most controversial thing about Star Wars were the Special Editions which coincided with the prequels’ releases. Even The Empire Strikes Back couldn’t avoid this, getting prominent changes such as Luke wailing while falling from Cloud City and Ian McDiarmid’s inclusion as Emperor Palpatine in Vader’s hologram conversation.
While Empire was altered the least, the use of early-2000’s CGI to prolong some scenes plus new voice actors and lines were still distracting enough to anyone who saw the original cut. Additionally, the digital effects’ clash with remastered footage only got worse over the years.
8 The Original Reviews
Given its legacy, it’s hard to believe that The Empire Strikes Back was critically panned back in 1980. At best, the movie got mixed reviews while most critics gave it a flat-out negative reception.
Many complained about its heavy use of spectacle, its being a middle chapter with no concrete resolution, and ending with a depressing cliffhanger – risks that Empire and those it inspired (ex. Avengers: Infinity War) are praised for today. Time has since vindicated the sequel, with many recognizing it as the best Star Wars movie and one of the best examples of blockbuster filmmaking.
7 George Lucas’s Hatred
In 1980, no one hated The Empire Strikes Back more than George Lucas did. Despite getting the chance to helm a blockbuster sequel (which were rare at the time), Lucas resented the second Star Wars movie and nearly disowned it.
To Lucas’ credit, his negative outlook stems from the difficulties that emerged from its chaotic production rather than the movie itself. Some of the headaches he contended with include constant rewrites, going nearly three times over budget, creative differences with director/his former professor Irvin Kershner, interference from the Director’s Guild of America, and the aforementioned negative reception.
6 Dinner With The Empire
Things go from bad to worse for Han, Leia, Chewie, and C-3P0 when they enter a dining hall in Cloud City only to come face to face with Darth Vader himself. It’s revealed that Vader used them as bait to lure Luke out – a trap that works perfectly.
What exactly happened in the dining room, however, is never shown. Leaving things up to audiences’ imagination isn’t a problem, but doing so accidentally left the scene open to numerous parodies. The most famous one was made by Robot Chicken, where the supposed lunch was shown in its awkward glory.
5 Boba Fett’s Badass Reputation
Thanks to this movie and most the Expanded Universe, Boba Fett went from cool-looking bounty hunter to galactic badass. The Empire Strikes Back all but solidifies his status as a legendary Mandalorian, but it’s also the only time audiences see him do something.
In Return of the Jedi, Boba Fett dies comically when he’s knocked into the Sarlacc’s burping mouth. His status is further reduced when Attack of the Clones reveals that he’s the clone of a skilled Mandalorian, not the self-made mercenary fans thought him to be. In turn, his escapades in Empire look like dumb luck.
4 Goofy Yoda
When Luke first sees Yoda, his would-be Jedi mentor is a kooky old alien who messes with his stuff. This, however, was just a cover for the first of Yoda’s many unconventional tests. The moment the training begins, his demeanor changes.
The only reason why Yoda’s crazy front aged poorly was because of The Last Jedi, where Yoda’s Force Ghost seemingly forgot his true personality. Instead of being the meditative Jedi teacher, Yoda went back to goofing off and can now summon lightning. Thanks to pop culture osmosis and continued misinterpretation, Yoda’s antics overshadowed who he really was.
3 Lando Is The Only Black Man In Space
For its time, The Empire Strikes Back’s casting of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calirissan was progressive but his legacy didn’t age well. Not only is Lando the only major black character in the sequel, but he’s also the one who sells out Han and friends.
Williams revealed that after the movie’s premiere, kids got mad at him for betraying the heroes – a reception he believes would’ve been different if Lando were played by a white man. Lando is still a compellingly tragic figure, but it’s impossible to overlook the (mostly unintentional) racial subtext.
2 Luke And Leia’s Kiss
After Luke wakes up in the infirmary, Leia makes out with him just to piss off Han. For those who shipped Luke and Leia since the beginning, this was one hell of a treat. That was until they were revealed to be siblings in Return of the Jedi.
If not for this list’s next entry, this accidental incest would be the one element in all of Star Wars canon that aged the worst. The fact that it was something Lucas and company made up on the fly only adds to the unintentional humor of it all.
1 Han Solo’s Casual Misogyny
Watching Han hit on Leia today isn’t as romantic as it used to be, since his actions and words line up more with those of a misogynist guilty of sexual harassment instead of a space-faring Casanova.
Han’s worst moment is when he corners Leia in the Millennium Falcon’s engine room and pressures her into kissing him. This is mostly a product of the time that the movie was made in rather than an indictment of it, but let’s just say that imitating Han’s style of romancing would get you in trouble instead of a relationship.