Yesterday, May the 4th (be with you – har-dee-har), was Star Wars Day. No really. This is a thing.
I probably should’ve blogged about it then, to assert my relevance, but it’s so much more hipster of me to do it today. But if I’m writing about Star Wars, I’ve already taken time out to explore its racist overtones (they cannot be called undertones) on an old blog. This time I’d rather focus on the good stuff about Star Wars. In fact, I want to write about the best thing about Star Wars.
That’s right, kids; the motherfucking Empire Strikes Back!!
Most people I speak to, when they think Star Wars, they think of lightsabers and those awful prequel movies (that never happened!). When I think of Star Wars, I always think of one of the coolest action adventure films ever made. Free of George Lucas’ inability to direct human beings, and with a script penned by people who may’ve actually heard other folks speak out loud before, Empire also happens to be the first Star Wars movie I remember seeing. This was back in the 90s, when they re-released these gems with updated effects.
There are many, many reasons I enjoy Empire. With 2 years of development in the can, it’s lost the wooden qualities of the original Star Wars. And unlike the final installment, Return of the Jedi, Empire isn’t a self aware marketing push where teddy bears save the galaxy from certain doom. The real reason to get behind this movie though is that it shifted the focus from goofy teenage space pilot Luke Skywalker to the real star of the franchise: Han Solo.
Yeah, this trilogy is about Luke Skywalker’s journey and he gets to do a bunch of stuff, but someone in the writing room obviously realized that actor turned carpenter turned actor again Harrison Ford was way more interesting, and could get away with doing much cooler shit. That’s why 10 minutes into the movie, Luke is pulverized and hung upside down in a cave to face a ravenous beast and his doom. So much for the hero that destroyed the Death Star. He may be good in a dogfight where he’s gotta shoot a ventilation shaft that’s 50 meters wide, but throw this guy into the tundras of Hoth’s ice planet and he turns simple reconnaissance into a suicide run!
And who saves him from his near death experience? Han effing Solo! That’s who!
From then on, this flick really does just keep telling you how awesome Han is. And that’s great, because no nerdy kid wants to be nerdier Luke Skywalker with his lightsaber and his moral code. We wanna be Han Solo, with a cool name, a cool spaceship and a laser pistol we make sure to use on every angry alien dope dealer that corners us in a cantina on a desert world.
Han’s ship, the Millenium Falcon, saves the day and the ragtag rebels head off to Han’s buddy Lando’s Cloud City to hang back and hide out from the Empire. Too bad Billy Dee’s sold them out to the bad guys. Darth Vader is planning on getting hold of his son, Luke (SPOILERS!), at some point and freezing him in carbonite. Because that’s the kind of familial relationship these two’ve got going. When he needs to test the freezing process, who do you think he uses as a guinea pig? Yep. You guessed it!
It’s like even Vader, the deadliest villain in the galaxy, knew that he couldn’t just use his freezing chamber on a lamer like Luke without inaugurating it using someone who truly mattered. And before Han suffers this uncomfortable fate, he even gets the greatest line in the history of romance out. Leia leans in, says “I love you”, finally revealing the feelings she has for this smuggling space cowboy to his face. It’s a tense moment. But what does Monsieur Solo say in response?
Han Solo, baby.