Rian Johnson has compared his upcoming film, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, to other Star Wars movies. The upcoming eighth chapter in the long-running Star Wars saga aims to take the franchise in a new direction, one that follows the events of J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, while also still piecing together the events between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy.
Although it was undoubtedly successful, both critically and commercially, the chief complaint about The Force Awakens was that it was too similar to George Lucas' original Star Wars film, thematically and narratively, which has caused some to be concerned about Johnson's upcoming film, fearing that it would heavily resemble Irvin Kershner's Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Of course, being that The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back are both the second installments in their respective trilogies, it would make sense if the creative team behind the new movie drew inspiration from Empire. However, that's something they apparently have been avoiding - though only to an extent. And, as it turns out, Episode VIII will be taking cues from another Star Wars film: Return of the Jedi.
So far, The Last Jedi has been depicted as being a more somber film than the last installment, though Johnson told Fandango that his movie will still have the same level of fun that Abrams' movie had, as well as capture that same sense of playfulness that was shown in Richard Marquand's Star Wars: Episode VII - Return of the Jedi. Here's what he said:
“The automatic temptation is to say, ‘Well, it’s a middle chapter, so it’s got kind of that Empire thing.’ But at the same time, I really wanted to maintain the same sense of fun that J.J. had in The Force Awakens, that to some extent in Return Of The Jedi, which I was like 10 years old, that was prime for me when that came out - and the sense of playfulness, I think. So when I say Empire, I guess I don’t want to give the impression that it’s kind of a dark, gloom, and doom. It was also really important to me that this was a fun adventure. I don’t know, it’s a mixed bag of a lot of different stuff. And, hopefully, some unique stuff, too.”
Following The Force Awakens' backlash, regarding the film being too similar to A New Hope, it's understandable for Johnson to want to distance himself --and his movie - from The Empire Strikes Back, so that he, too, doesn't suffer the same backlash. What's interesting about his comments though, is that The Last Jedi is going to have the same sense of playfulness that Return of the Jedi had, which was decidedly more relaxed and "fun" than the previous two installments in the original trilogy, especially Empire. Seeing as Episode VIII's marketing has teased a more serious tone, evidenced by the red-colored emphasis of the movie's marketing material, it's curious that the entry will feature similar tones to Episode VI.
Of course, we've only seen one teaser trailer thus far, along with a handful of behind-the-scenes videos, so there are certainly many things about the upcoming sequel that remain a mystery. Since there wasn't a new trailer at the D23 Expo last weekend, hopefully Lucasfilm debuts the second teaser trailer for The Last Jedi at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, where we might see some of that fun tone come into play.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019