“Empire” premiered three years after “Star Wars,” which was later subtitled “A New Hope.” With one line, “I’m your father,” the second film introduced a mythic grandeur to George Lucas’ far-away galaxy, whereas elevating the lightsaber battle to a excessive artwork and turning the villain, Darth Vader, into the pivotal determine within the story.
The film additionally launched Yoda, the tiny Jedi grasp; the Emperor, establishing the master-apprentice relationship that may outline the villainous Sith and their descent to the darkish facet; the bounty hunter Boba Fett; and Lando Calrissian, performed by Billy Dee Williams, addressing the conspicuous lack of range within the unique movie. (After “Star Wars” opened, actor Raymond St. Jacques notably printed a letter within the Los Angeles Occasions lamenting the “invisibility” of individuals of colour in that movie specifically, and the futuristic science fiction on the whole.)
Lucas did not direct “Empire” (that activity fell to Irvin Kershner), and enlisted Lawrence Kasdan to work on the screenplay, starting a protracted affiliation with the writer-director of “The Massive Chill” and “Physique Warmth.”
Though Lucas had plotted the story, Kasdan’s involvement helped form and add depth to “Empire,” because it went in additional mythological instructions.
As Kasdan informed Wired earlier than “The Power Awakens” launched the latest trilogy, “Nothing could possibly be extra enjoyable than ‘A New Hope,’ however in ‘Empire’ the characters could possibly be extra fascinating, extra complicated.” Whereas Lucas had famously envisioned a multi-part story, as Kasdan famous, there was “no actuality” to that concept till “Star Wars” grew to become a sensation, creating the potential of reworking the idea right into a sweeping narrative.These heightened ambitions weren’t misplaced on the forged on the time. In a 2018 interview with Starwars.com, Mark Hamill recalled that “Empire” was “a lot more difficult to the viewers and, after all, so darkish and so surprising that it ended with us defeated. … I believed, ‘That is kind of the make or break.’ If this one would not resonate with the general public, the way forward for the franchise — and at the moment I used to be solely considering the trilogy — it is pivotal that this film connects.”
“Empire” related on nearly each degree, from the continued evolution of the particular results to the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia (“I Love You.” “I do know”) to composer John Williams’ “The Imperial March” (a.okay.a. Darth Vader’s Theme), a bit of music each bit as iconic because the opening theme.
The film additionally included what might be seen, on reflection, because the granddaddy of spoilers — shrouding all future iterations in secrecy — earlier than that time period was generally used.
The intervening a long time have yielded a blended bag creatively talking for Lucas’ universe, now below the stewardship of Disney. The overarching “Star Wars” identify has not solely generated billions in income, however birthed a fan base with a proprietary feeling in regards to the supply materials that they will share, for higher and in poor health, by social media channels that had been as a lot the stuff of science fiction in 1977 as holographic chess.
But most of what is finest about “Star Wars” has roots in “The Empire Strikes Again” — together with key characters within the newest offshoot of it, “The Mandalorian” — in the identical method “The Godfather Half II” turned its predecessor from an important film right into a “saga.”
In the meanwhile, the way forward for “Star Wars” is, as Yoda would say, in movement. The linchpin of its previous, nonetheless, runs straight by “Empire” and the summer season of 1980.