To call 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi divisive would be a gross understatement. Largely lauded by critics, the film split the fanbase in half, with some loving Johnson's subverted take on the saga and others claiming it was the worst film in the franchise. In a recent interview, director Rian Johnson has discussed similarities between the backlash to his film, and many fans' favourite from the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back.
Interestingly, Rian Johnson was initially disappointed in the first-ever Star Wars sequel when he was a young boy. But he has since come around to its charms as perhaps one of the greatest sequels in movie history.
"That's the thing. But, as a kid, I distinctly remember being disappointed by The Empire Strikes Back. I think my dad took me when I was really young to see A New Hope. Yeah, no, I remember, especially in the context of Return of the Jedi, which as a kid I adored. And so, yeah, I remember very vividly. But then Empire slowly became my favorite one."
Perhaps coming as a surprise to many Star Wars fans, the initial reception to The Empire Strikes Back was less than favourable. The once popular sci-fi magazine, Starlog, compiled some of the critical responses to the film back in 1980, and the mixed response does bare some parallels to the response to the The Last Jedi, particularly with regards to the film's over-arching mysteries and parentage solutions.
At the time, some even questioned whether Vader really is Luke's father, and offered their own theories as to why he may have claimed to be so. Much like the fan theories that still persist surrounding Rey's parents, despite Kylo Ren telling her they were merely worthless junk traders.
Others took issue with the sheer amount of questions that still persisted following the film's finale, with Han Solo's fate taking the brunt of these criticisms. Again this is an issue many took with The Last Jedi, with fans shaking their fists with frustration at the secrets that still persisted come the end credits.
Of course, as time went on the division over The Empire Strikes Back dissipated and the film has gone on to be considered by many to be the best in the saga, even by an initially disappointed Johnson.
"Yeah. It sticks. That's why that's the one that, even though at that time I had that reaction to it, it stuck in me and it resonated with me. I remember the Prequels, that acrimony of the prequels. I think people forget exactly the tenor of the danger. We remember because we were in the thick of it. So, I mean, I don't know. I think that anything with a passionate following always has a passionate following and Star Wars is that, even more so. You can't be angry at one side of it when it's also the reason the positive is so passionate, you know? It's all part of the same thing and it always was like this basic thing. That's why I love it."