Is ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ the Perfect Sequel?

When A New Hope came out 42 years ago people didn’t know there was going to be a sequel. It, sure enough, didn’t seem like it. A New Hope told a solid story with unsuspecting heroes who defeated the bad guys and were given medals in an unforgettable celebration at the end of the movie that made it seem like this story was over. But oh no, the story hadn’t ended. In fact, it had just begun.

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Three years later, it’s 1980, and The Empire Strikes Back is in theaters. Star Wars was a practically a perfect movie. Who would want to continue something that didn’t need to be tampered with? But George Lucas, with the help of the magnificent Lawrence Kasdan, built on A New Hope‘s momentum and told a story that was so utterly magnificent that it’s still regarded as the zenith of sequel movie making.

Everything about The Empire Strikes Back was better than the first. The planets were more awe-inspiring, the character developments were phenomenal, Darth Vader was on the next level of awesome, it displayed a compelling romance between Han and Leia that will go down as one of the greatest movie love stories of all time, the action was absolutely incredible, and it dropped a movie bombshell that no one could’ve seen coming.

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The goal of a sequel is that it builds on the former movie and takes that story to another echelon of greatness. The characters’ storylines are supposed to evolve, the suspense is supposed to get better, and there has to be at least one shocking revelation in the film that leaves audiences wanting more heading into the potential final installment. The Empire Strikes Back hits on all of these levels in ways that most movies can’t.

How many times have you watched a movie, found out it had a sequel, watched the sequel, and it ended up being a disappointment? The Sequel Curse has claimed many movies, even in the Star Wars franchise! Attack of the Clones was way worse than The Phantom Menace and even The Last Jedi obtained quite a bit less love than its predecessor, The Force Awakens. Let me just name a few other sequels that weren’t received very well.

Iron Man 2Thor: The Dark WorldSpeed 2: Cruise ControlThe Hunger Games: Catching FireThe Lion King 2: Simba’s PrideDie Hard 2Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, etc. You get the picture. There are a LOT of sequels that haven’t been able to live up to the hype.

But for those films that do manage to be just as good or better than its trilogy’s first installment they always are compared to The Empire Strikes BackAvengers: Infinity War was considered the best sequel since The Empire Strikes Back. The actors for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald are claiming that this sequel will play along the darker vein of The Empire Strikes Back. Over and over again I’ve heard references to the Star Wars movie that changed the world because at the end of the day it is literally the perfect sequel.

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It has, over time, become the model of what a great sequel should be and I think it always will for many more years to come.

Do you feel that The Empire Strikes Back is the perfect sequel? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

I thank you for reading and I hope you have a beautiful day. May the Force be with you.

4 thoughts on “Is ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ the Perfect Sequel?”

  1. Perfect, after a fashion, although it depends on the viewer. I remember reading once that George Lucas himself considered Empire to be the worst of his Star Wars movies, and if you cross-reference that with the fact that he always considered them to be for kids, it makes sense. It’s probably the least kid-friendly of the six Lucas movies other than maybe ROTS — which is fine for kids until you see the unarmored Vader getting set to hack other kids their age down, and of course the process of him catching fire and the becoming the armored Vader while Padme dies is kinda rough. Conversely, I suspect most kids would like the Ewoks and Jar Jar, it’s us grown ups that hate them.

    I’m on the fence about Attack of the Clones vs Phantom Menace now. I do think Maul was more interesting visually than Dooku, and the Geonosis scenes were kinda awkward, but… I don’t know what it is. The theory I just came up with is, the Trade Federation’s battle droids are just not entertaining to watch, and they’re featured more heavily in Ep1 than they are in Ep2. At least Ep2 had mostly human stories to it all, even if some of them were kinda awkward to watch. (Which I’ve always been kinda willing to forgive in the case of Anakin-Padme, because Anakin’s a damaged human being who’s on his way to a career killing people by the millions, so him coming off all entitled, toxic, and stalker-y makes perfect sense.) Just about the whole plot of Ep1 is about the mundane politics of greed and the Trade Fed trying to solve their problems with a mechanized army that just… isn’t that cool, and Amidala’s subterfuge is all right, but her whole performance in her royal office is just really wooden, so she’s kinda hard to get behind as a heroic figure.

    In fact, now that I think about it, that’s just kinda it. The more you’re watching all those droids doing droid-y things, the less interesting the movies get. They’re just vastly less interesting mooks than the Stormtroopers or even the clones, they never feel all that threatening even in scaled up armies, and even just visually they’re not particularly appealing. I don’t know what Lucas was going for with these, but he maybe should’ve borrowed a little more from the 2029 scenes in the Terminator movies where the droids just showed a level of unfeeling brutality in their disregard for sentient life, so that you took them at least a little seriously. As it is, they’re just not interesting to watch — Ep3 is partly the best prequel just by not having them on screen much, really.

    …you liked Last Jedi better than Empire? Oh dear. 😖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t like The Last Jedi better than Empire! That’s preposterous. The Last Jedi is great but Empire doesn’t have any annoying characters or scenes (you know, like DJ or the slightly boring Canto Bight scenes.) I just said, The Last Jedi was another film that partially suffered from the Sequel Curse due to peoples’ blistering reactions.

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      1. Oh… in the “five best scenes” bit you said you had Empire ranked third behind Rogue One and Last Jedi. I was like, ok, I knew about Rogue One, and I guess I can write that off as taste, but… but… 😓

        Well, good. You had me worried a little there. 😋

        Liked by 1 person

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