In 2015, when The Force Awakens first came out, a lot of fans and critics noticed undeniable similarities between its plot and that of A New Hope. Leading up to the release of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson insisted his movie wasn’t a remake of The Empire Strikes Back.
He said, “There are big structural things that are going to be very similar to The Empire Strikes Back. But I don’t think, after watching the movie, many people will have the feeling of a copy of The Empire Strikes Back.” He turned out to be wrong. So, here are 10 Things The Last Jedi Borrowed From The Empire Strikes Back.
10 A darker tone
What set The Empire Strikes Back apart from its predecessor was that it took the story to a darker place. That is also what set The Last Jedi apart from The Force Awakens. Despite the insufferably cute Porgs, it was generally a grimmer and more serious movie than The Force Awakens.
Kylo Ren cut his master in half, a grizzled Luke burned the ancient Jedi temple containing the ancient Jedi texts to the ground, and Vice Admiral Holdo’s last stand meant suicide bombing the First Order using lightspeed. It’s like Rian Johnson was going out of his way to emulate Empire’s dark tone.
9 The good guys go on the run from the bad guys through space
For most of The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon is being pursued through the depths of space by the Empire’s fleet. And for most of The Last Jedi, the Resistance – confined to one ship after being decimated in battle – is being pursued through the depths of space by the First Order’s fleet.
Exactly what the characters do while they’re on the run and the divisions that build between them have been changed, but overall, that part of the story has been more or less lifted from Empire. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s nowhere near different enough to not be considered a rip-off.
8 A wise old Jedi training the hero
The whole second act of The Empire Strikes Back sends Luke to the swamp planet of Dagobah to be trained in the ways of the Force and become a fully-fledged Jedi with the wisdom of Yoda. The Last Jedi sent Rey to Ahch-To to be trained as a Jedi by Luke as sort of a passing of the torch.
The only difference is that the filmmakers didn’t wait until the second movie to introduce the hero to the Jedi who would train her, because today’s audiences aren’t patient enough for that. Instead, the meeting was the previous movie’s cliffhanger ending.
7 The hero has visions during their training
While he’s being trained in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke wanders into a cave and has a vision that suggests Darth Vader is his father when he sees his own face under the helmet. During Rey’s training in The Last Jedi, she also wanders off and goes into a cave where she also sees her own face.
It’s a bit different. Luke saw his father and then saw his own face under the mask, whereas Rey asked for her parents’ identity and then saw her own face in a mirror. But come on, that is basically the exact same thing.
6 After their visions, the hero joins the others in their fight
After experiencing their visions brought on by Force sensitivity – each of which act as a sort of epiphany to make them truly worthy of being a Jedi – both Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and Rey in The Last Jedi leave the planet where they’ve been training and head back to where the rest of the group is to join their fight.
In each case, the hero had a personal connection to the villain. Luke was Darth Vader’s son, while Rey had been Force-Skyping with Kylo Ren throughout the whole movie and getting him to question his Dark Side feelings.
5 We’re introduced to an exotic new location
The Empire Strikes Back takes us to Cloud City on Bespin, which is a vacation spot for those who can afford it, a haven for the rich. Meanwhile, The Last Jedi takes us – completely needlessly, mind you, with virtually nothing to do with the plot – to Canto Bight, a sort of intergalactic Monte Carlo.
The rich people there are dressed all fancy and placing bets in games in the casino and on animals in races. It’s impossible not to draw parallels between these two locations, especially since they serve the same purpose in the story – introducing us to a mysterious new character.
4 A mysterious, silver-tongued new character betrays the heroes
In The Empire Strikes Back, we’re introduced to a charming, yet mysterious guy named Lando Calrissian, who seems friendly at first and ends up selling out the heroes for a deal with the villains. The mysterious new character in Rian Johnson’s movie was so mysterious that he didn’t even have a name.
He was called “DJ” in the script and on all the call sheets and promotional materials, but for all intents and purposes, Benicio del Toro’s character doesn’t have a name. He, too, seemed charming at first and ended up betraying the heroes for a deal with the villains.
3 The villain asks the hero to join them
In The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader offers Luke Skywalker the chance to join him and rule the galaxy with an iron fist by his side, together as a team. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren offers Rey the chance to join him and rule the galaxy with an iron fist by his side, together as a team.
The precise wording of this offer was changed from movie to movie, but it’s still the same thing between the same hero/villain dynamic at the same point in the plot. And of course, in each case, the hero rejects the villain’s offer.
2 We get a big revelation about the hero’s parentage during the final battle
We all know that after their lightsaber battle, Darth Vader tells Luke that he’s his father. It’s one of the most famous plot twists of all time. So, if Rian Johnson was going to copy anything from The Empire Strikes Back, it’d be that. Unfortunately, J.J. Abrams had already copied it in The Force Awakens with the reveal that Kylo Ren was the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Still, that didn’t stop him from throwing in a big revelation about the hero’s parentage. During their lightsaber duel, Kylo Ren tells Rey that her parents are “nobodies.” This could turn out to be untrue, but it’s still in the movie at that exact moment.
1 A bummer ending
A New Hope ends with the Rebels triumphing over the Empire. They don’t totally defeat them, but blowing up the Death Star is an impressive victory and the movie has a happy ending. Return of the Jedi also has a happy ending, with the Rebels bringing down the Empire once and for all.
At the end of The Force Awakens, the Resistance blows up Starkiller Base, so it has the exact same happy ending as A New Hope. But The Last Jedi, like The Empire Strikes Back, ends on a bum note. The earlier movie ends with the bad guys getting away and the good guys escaping without getting killed. That’s their only success – not dying. The same goes for The Last Jedi.