STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI Revisited - Looking Back At 5 Things That Worked And 5 That Didn't

We've now reached the end of our look back at the original Star Wars trilogy, but how did this finale stack up to the one George Lucas delivered years later with Revenge of the Sith? Find out here...

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The Star Wars franchise returned to the big screen in 2015 with The Force Awakens, though this Galaxy Far, Far Away has since found greater success on television than in theaters. The future of the franchise on the big screen now feels somewhat uncertain, though a handful of projects are in various stages of development. 

None of them have definitive release dates, unfortunately, and it seems Lucasfilm is currently on expanding this franchise through Disney+ instead (which has proved to be no bad thing thus far).

To fill that Star Wars shaped void in your lives, we're now taking a look back at the Skywalker Saga, and after delving into The Phantom MenaceAttack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, it's time to wrap up the original trilogy. After looking back at A New Hope and The Empire Strike Back, we've now reached the final chapter in George Lucas' master plan before he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.

Return of the Jedi got a lot right, but made some crucial mistakes, and while it's nowhere near as divisive as The Rise of Skywalker, it certainly left Star Wars fans with an awful lot to talk about. 

So, to take a look through this breakdown, all you need to do is click the "Next" button below...

Did Work: The Jedi Knight

Knight

What a difference a year makes, eh? When Return of the Jedi begins, Luke has enacted a clever plan to rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, and when we see him for the first time here, he’s become a fully fledged Jedi Knight.

Displaying some amazing lightsaber skills and a mastery of the Force, the one time farm boy couldn’t have been any different upon his return to Tatooine. With his black robes and a brand new green lightsaber (an interesting change), he looked every bit the part too.

It seemed a little convenient seeing as he trained with Yoda for such a short amount of time, but Marvel's Star Wars comics are now filling in the gap between The Empire Strikes Back and this film.

Didn't Work: A Second Death Star

Sta

Why?

That's the big question here, and the fact that another Death Star showed up so soon after the destruction of the first really cheapened the victory of the Rebels in A New Hope.

After all, Revenge of the Sith showed us that it’s something the Empire had been working on for decades, so the fact that they’d knocked together another – much bigger and more powerful than the last – so quickly seems a bit odd in hindsight, as does the fact that it once again had an easy to exploit fault to make it fairly easy to destroy.

As epic as the space battle may have been as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader battled in front of the Emperor, this definitely felt like a retread of old ground in some ways, and we've yet to find out whether this was being built at the same time as the first one or whether it was just thrown together. 

With another weakness, of course!

Did Work: Endor Speeder Chase

Speeder

One of the most exciting and overlooked action sequences in the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke and Leia racing through the forests of Endor while being pursued by Stormtroopers stands as out as one of the franchise’s most kinetic and well put together set pieces.

Essentially flying motorbikes, the speeders made for a unique visual, especially as the previous movies had spent so much time in the air. Lucas would of course recapture this same excitement years later with the Podrace in the otherwise disappointing The Phantom Menace.

Alas, this one took an admittedly rather sour turn when it led to Luke and Leia meeting the Ewoks, something which proves once and for all that all good things do indeed come to an end.

Didn't Work: Boba Fett's Apparent Demise

Sarlacc

Despite the fact that The Empire Strikes Back had established Boba Fett as a firm fan-favourite, George Lucas still made the baffling decision to kill him off in perhaps the lamest way possible in Return of the Jedi. If the filmmaker really felt that there was no other way to end his story here, then there had to be a better way to have the bounty hunter meet his maker.

After all, his apparent demise boiled down to than Han Solo accidentally hitting his jetpack with a staff and sending him into the Sarlaac Pit for a slow and agonising death...we guess he deserved? 

While the Expanded Universe is no more, Disney has confirmed that Boba Fett managed to survive (much to the delight of fans), and he is now set to make his return in The Mandalorian on Disney+. 

Did Work: Slave Leia

Slave

A few years ago, it was confirmed that Disney had stopped producing any merchandise with Princess Leia in her slave costume, a decision which is understandable in many ways, but one that not even Carrie Fisher agreed with. That’s a shame, though, because regardless of how absolutely incredible the actress looked in this costume, she also got to kick some serious ass.

Bear in mind that Leia was responsible for killing Jabba the Hutt while chained up, giving her a role as pivotal as that of Luke and Han, and proving that she was no longer the vulnerable girl who had to be rescued in A New Hope. The fact she did it all while looking downright incredible was obviously a bonus, and the costume is of course now iconic. Sadly, it's just a tad dated!

Didn't Work: Leia Is Suddenly Luke's Sister

Luke-Leia

When Yoda (whose death happens far too quickly and feels wholly unnecessary) talked about there being "another." you’d think that it would have major ramifications for Return of the Jedi.

That wasn’t the case, and the reveal that Luke’s sister is Leia is actually handled very poorly, with it feeling like little more than a convenient way to squash the notion of any sort of romance between them because Lucas had decided that she was meant to be with Han.

While Vader briefly mentions her, you’d also think he would have had a bigger reaction to learning that the woman he kidnapped and had tortured was his daughter, and this is a reveal which feels too much like Lucas struggling to replicate The Empire Strikes Back’s big twist.

Did Work: Darth Vader Returns To The Light

Vad

Return of the Jedi may have featured an incredible space battle, but even more exciting was what was happening inside the Death Star. The highlight of the fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker came when Anakin was forced to choose between his son and the Dark Side.

Regardless of their many faults, the prequels at least provided some insight into why Vader made this decision, as have Marvel's Star Wars comics (which revealed that he knows the Emperor had lied to him about the circumstances of Padme’s death).

All that aside though, and this was still a powerful moment, as well as one which didn’t necessarily fully redeem Vader, but did prove he was more than just a fearsome and entirely evil villain.

Didn't Work: The Ewoks

Ewoks

Look, you can be honest with us; when Star Wars: Battlefront was released, you totally spent all your time on the Endor map attempting to shoot these little bastards rather than other players, right?

The Battle of Endor would have been much better off without the infuriatingly stupid Ewoks, and the fact that these silly looking teddy bears played such a key role in proceedings were arguably a sign of the childish direction George Lucas would take the franchise in years later with The Phantom Menace.

The Ewoks added a lot of unneeded comedy to a final act where it really had no place, spoiling much of the action as a result. Making them blink just made them even weirder, and while they do have their fair share of fans, you can't really argue that they brought much to the movie. 

Did Work: "Let Me Look On You With My Own Eyes"

VaderD

With Darth Vader making up for his evil past by saving his son, Return of the Jedi did the right thing by giving him and Luke a very personal moment following his decision to bring the Emperor’s reign to an end. The unmasking is obviously a massive reveal, but more important than that is what’s said between these two.

Vader wanting to see Luke’s face with his own eyes and telling him to tell his sister that he was right about him still having some good within was definitely very powerful and memorable, and somewhat made up for his lack of reaction to learning he has a daughter as well as a son.

While Luke hoped he could save Vader, it was ultimately the right decision to kill him off. Whether it was the right move to have Hayden Christensen show up as a Force Ghost remains a big talking point.

Didn't Work: "Nooooooooooo!"

VaderD1

Added to George Lucas before he sold Lucasfilm to Disney, Return of the Jedi now gives Darth Vader a "Nooooo!" moment at the end of the movie which was one of the many tweaks George Lucas decided to make when the movies were all re-released on Blu-ray (it's still there on Disney+). 

Considering the fact that Vader’s borderline comical scream of anguish from Revenge of the Sith has been so widely criticised, why the filmmaker thought it would be a good idea to add that here (it’s not even a new recording; the dialogue has just been lifted from the prequel and placed over the scene) to the moment when the Sith Lord saves Luke from the Emperor is unclear.

It’s another unnecessary alteration, and while it’s one which doesn’t quite spoil that final fight, it definitely hurts it.

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