It seems like every day, there’s a new tidbit of information about J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars reboot. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Abrams stated that his main goal for Episode VII is to create a Star Wars film that feels “emotional and authentic.” However, when asked which of the previous films in the saga would have the closest feel to the upcoming one, Abrams refused to pick, saying “Whatever your favorite Star Wars movie is and how to compare it is really sort of subjective.” Well, with all due respect to Mr. Abrams, there really is only one Star Wars film that would be the ideal inspiration for the reboot: The Empire Strikes Back.
Episode V is the most iconic film in the franchise, and is both critcally acclaimed and a fan favorite. For those reasons alone, Abrams would be smart to use this film as his guide, as it would provide the best insight into the tone of the saga, and would allow him to connect the reboot to the original films in the series. And besides, channeling the original trilogy would most likely help Abrams avoid creating another Jar Jar Binks. However, even if he’s not looking to replicate the tone of the first half of the saga, Empire Strikes Back exemplifies the balance of fantasy and autheticity that the director says he’s after.
If Abrams wants emotional, Empire is the place to turn. First, there’s the moment where Han Solo is frozen in carbonite moments after he and Leia have declared their love for each other. Not only would the poignancy of this moment help Abrams to strike the right chord with audiences, but the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia is the ideal basis for any sort of romantic element that might be included in the reboot.
In addition, Episode V contains the most iconic Star Wars moment of all: Luke discovering that Darth Vader is his father. This moment is the kind of plot twist that manages to both surprise the audience and have emotional ramifications for the characters. After all, Luke not only finds out that his father is still alive, but he’s the one person he’s thought of as the enemy… not to mention the fact that Luke lost his hand in the big reveal. That’s going to take a toll on anyone, and it perfectly sets up many of the important plot and character elements of the next film. If Abrams is able to channel this moment, he will not only get the kind of authentic emotion he’s aiming for, but he will also be able to create a plot twist that wipes whatever he was attempting to do with Khan from everyone’s mind.
With all of the negative press and feelings still surrounding Star Trek Into Darkness, fans are apprehensive about the upcoming Star Wars sequels, and Abrams needs something that will seem comforting. Drawing inspiration from Empire Strikes Back would be a good sign that he understands what made the saga so compelling and entertaining in the first place, and would give fans hope that they don’t have another Attack of the Clones headed their way. In short, it’s the perfect way to ensure that Abrams gets to execute his vision without alienating a devoted audience.