When it was released almost exactly 35 years ago in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back was actually met with the most mixed reviews of the initial trilogy. Over time, however, it’s become the critic and fan favorite. Sure, everyone knows the paternity twist now, but it’s still one of the greatest reveals in film history.
Director Irvin Kershner took the bones from A New Hope and truly fleshed them out to their full potential. Luke continued his transition from whiny farm boy who just wanted to go to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters, to tragic hero with a heaping dose of daddy issues.
The evolution of Han Solo from scruffy scalawag to Rebel sympathizer amplified, and Leia continued to lead the Rebels in their seemingly endless quest to undermine the Empire. Two of the trilogies’ coolest characters, Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett, were introduced. (OK, Boba Fett was in the Christmas Special, but does that really count?)
Kershner left everyone in crisis in the end: Han frozen in carbonite and shipped off to a notorious crime lord, Luke maimed, and the Rebels scattered. Fans agonized for three years before they were given any resolution. As fans eagerly await a return to the Star Wars universe, let’s revisit some behind-the-scenes facts and trivia behind one of science fiction’s greatest achievements.