Inevitably, any sequel, whether it’s Star Wars or not, will be compared to The Empire Strikes Back. The second Star Wars film made people rethink what you could do with a sequel by showing that you can continue the story, while expanding the thematic pallet and remixing the trappings that the audience have come to expect. You can even leave them with a twist, a cliffhanger, and an unhappy ending, and you’ll only leave the audience wanting more. So with the tremendous success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the already sky high expectations can only be increased when someone mentions the words, “The Empire Strikes Back.”
So let’s go to Adam Driver, who plays the villainous Kylo Ren in the new trilogy, and how he used the magic words in a new interview with Collider. Driver was discussion the difference in style between J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, and attempting to explain how in the nuts and bolts Episode VIII, it shares a lot in common with Empire. Don’t worry, no spoilers are revealed.
Rian is coming into something that we kind of set up and he just took it to the next level in a really great way. He wrote it, too, and Rian’s writing is so clear. I learned a lot of things about my character through his writing. Some things we talked about before and some things we didn’t. He was working on [the script] while we were still working on the first one. To understand what J.J. was doing and take ownership from there is kind of a remarkable thing. …
It’s similar to how The Empire Strikes Back has a different tone. For that people always go “oooh, it’s dark” but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play.
We already know that Episode VIII will switch-up the Star Wars tool kit by opening mere moments after the end of The Force Awakens, but it seems that Driver is teasing that the new film will be even more of a departure in tone and style from what’s come before. Of course, the common criticism of The Force Awakens was that it was too reverential of the previous films, especially A New Hope, and the reason you would bring in an accomplished indie filmmaker like Johnson would be to break the mold (to a degree anyway). Just another reason to be very excited to see what Johnson’s got planned for his Star Wars.
Star Wars Episode VIII will be in theaters everywhere on December 15, 2017.