For better or worse, Star Wars: The Force Awakens received a lot of comparisons to the original Star Wars: A New Hope when it was released in 2015, so it's no surprise that people are expecting Star Wars: The Last Jedi to be this trilogy's Empire Strikes Back. Even with what little we know about the new film's plot, there are obvious parallels. Rey will spend a good portion of the story training with Luke Skywalker, just as Luke did with Yoda, all while the Resistance has to deal with the First Order. Director Rian Johnson says that while there certainly are some similarities, he tries to ignore them because the story is, ultimately, something new. According to Johnson...
I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to, but look, Rey is off in a remote location with a Jedi master, and the Resistance is in a tough spot, and we're intercutting those stories. By its very nature, there are some structural parallels. But these are new characters, they're dealing with new things, and that ultimately is what defines the movie. So I think that's going to be unique.
It was frequently remarked after the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that the plot of the film had more than a passing resemblance to the plot of the original Star Wars. Both contained droids carrying vital information lost on desert planets with people who turn out to be powerful users of the Force. For some, the similarities were endearing and nostalgic while for others it made the new movie feel derivative.The more we've seen of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the more it's looked like it might follow suit in the plot borrowing department. However, Rian Johnson tells Entertainment Weekly that any similarities are purely structural and that everything else in the new film will be, well, new.
To a certain extent, we need to expect Star Wars: The Last Jedi to bear some resemblance to The Empire Strikes Back. Both films are the middle part of a trilogy and basic story structure would indicate that both films will see our heroes tested, and probably end with their backs against the wall. If that happens it's really not because The Last Jedi is similar to Empire, it's because the movie is similar to most other second acts in dramas of any kind.
Rian Johnson is known for crafting some truly original stories so we'll tend to trust in his ability to not be unduly influenced by the rest of the Star Wars universe when trying to craft his story. We'll get to see what Star Wars: The Last Jedi does differently when it hits theaters December 15. Be sure to check out everything we know about the newest entry in the Star Wars saga.