5 Things That Made the Empire Strikes Back One of the Best Ever Movies

For many people, The Empire Strikes Back is not only the best Star Wars movie but one of the greatest movie sequels of all time. While it didn’t win an Oscar for Best Picture like The Godfather Part II did (it still won for Best Sound!), we're pretty sure if you asked people to name the best film sequel of all time, people would name-drop The Empire Strikes Back just as much as the movie that bumped off poor Fredo.
We could go on and on about how the whole of The Empire Strikes Back is the best thing since sliced bread, but let’s take the time to look at some of the smaller, more nuanced things that went into this film that helped it become such a great movie.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind was one of the biggest movies in cinema history – both in terms of production scale and box office reward. People still like to point out that, when inflation is taken into account, it is the highest-grossing film ever.

Star Wars is number two behind it and one of the reasons could well be the obvious inspiration that Lucas took from Gone with the Wind. Look at the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia – it features an archetype anti-hero falling in love (perhaps somewhat unwillingly) with a beautifully strong woman.
This is the exact same scenario that occurred in Gone with the Wind. Lucas knew this and he even agreed to have the now iconic The Empire Strikes Back promotional poster (as illustrated in this article's featured image) show Leia and Han in the same romantic pose as Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.

The posters are also very clever in that a “bad thing” that happens in each movie is obviously lurking in the background. For The Empire Strikes Back, it's obviously the looming figure of Darth Vader and for Gone with the Wind, it's the great fire.


luke yoda degobah
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Star Wars’ place in history was cemented before The Empire Strikes Back was released, but you could argue that the little green guy, Yoda, really elevated the franchise to new levels. This seemingly happy-go-lucky goblin turned out to be a Jedi Master who would train Luke Skywalker to become a great Jedi in his own right.

It was Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try” that spoke loudly to movie viewers everywhere, helping to make The Empire Strikes Back one of the greatest films ever.

A key to the success of Yoda was the puppetry skills and voice talents of Frank Oz. The momentum of The Empire Strikes Back actually led to a campaign to get Oz nominated for an acting Oscar. However, it came to nothing.

The legacy of Boba Fett

Boba Fett features in the movie for three scenes or so – and yet he still got himself a legion of fans. In some circles, he's considered more badass than Darth Vader.
Ever since Vader warned him on the deck of the Executor that he wanted “no more disintegrations,” fanboys and girls have marveled over the character – so much so that he turned up in Return of the Jedi and also featured prominently with his father Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones. He has, of course, also recently got his own television series.

“I know”

Han Solo’s “I know” line in response to Leia’s declaration of her love for him, just as he's about to be frozen in carbonite, has become one of the most iconic lines from the entire Star Wars franchise. Women love it because it's romantic and men love it because it's smart-ass.

While the line is often described as being ad-libbed by Harrison Ford, he didn't simply make it up as he was going along. It was a suggestion that came out of rehearsals and not the scripted line of “I'll be back.”

That big twist we're still talking about four decades later

Darth Vader’s confession to Luke that he was his father in The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many movie fans to be the best plot twist of all time. Bigger than the one in Planet of the Apes, bigger than the one in The Sixth Sense, and bigger than the one in Psycho.

A New Hope clearly intended that Vader and Anakin Skywalker were different people – please recall Obi-Wan’s expository scene with Luke which explained how Vader was seduced by the dark side and killed Luke’s father.

So it was a great move to introduce the best bad guy ever as the father of the hero.

luke saber vader duel empire
Image Courtesy of Lucasfilm

So why is this movie so popular?

It’s a dark tale that has no real ending, but it did feature one of the greatest movie twists at its highest point.

Consider the aforementioned The Sixth Sense. Would it have been any good if Bruce Willis was actually alive and the movie had a slightly different ending? No.

If the twist had not been in The Empire Strikes Back, one could argue the movie would have merely been classed as a good one, rather than a great one.

One should bear in mind the time when the movie came out when it comes to this point. Many movies now try to come up with the key plot twist. Nowadays, such a twist may seem cool but not amazing or revolutionary – but it certainly was back in the day.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.