To say Star Wars: The Last Jedi has seen a mixed reception from fans would be a massive understatement.
Flame wars in comments sections continue to be waged a week after release, as many argue whether Rian Johnson made the best or worst Star Wars movie, with no reasonable attempt to meet in the middle.
But even though the original trilogy has since been ranked on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, they originally released in theaters at a time when the Internet didn’t exist for public use. So it’s easy to forget how fans reacted to another one of the most shocking entries in the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back.
Sci-fi magazine Starlog was one of the popular sources for geek news back in the ’80s, with many fans writing in their thoughts much like they’d post on social media nowadays. Website A Critical Hit recently compiled some responses to The Empire Strikes Back in the pages of Starlog, giving us an idea of how fans reacted to what is widely regarded the best film in the saga to date.
Some fans were skeptical of the big reveal:
Is Luke related to Vader? Most think so now that Vader came right out and said it. Well, I say, do you believe everything you hear? Vader may have lied just to enlist Luke to his side. Vader would then dispose of Luke once he got what he wanted. – Robert L. Beedy-Scarola
Others thought the film didn’t answer enough of the mysteries permeating throughout the film (hmm, that sounds familiar):
I know they wanted to leave something to settle in the other sequels, but they left a little too much. For instance, Han Solo’s predicament. The movie should not have ended until Han was either killed by Boba Fett or Jabba or rescued by Lando Calrissian or Chewbacca, the former, preferably. Also, the fate of Bespin is not told. Was it taken by Lando’s troops, taken by Imperial troops or destroyed by Vader? I like Lando Calrissian and Billy Dee Williams was very good playing the part. – Sean Bernard
Some didn’t enjoy the Leia/Han romance:
C’mon Leia, why don’t you take a look around? Can’t you see what Luke is up against? You could have a “nice guy” like him. Instead, you are turning your back on him. Forget that it was Luke that saved you from having your atoms scattered throughout the galaxy. Forget that it was Luke, and not Han Solo, that wanted you rescued from the Death Star detention area. But you don’t need to remember all that, Leia. As long as hot-lips Han is around, who needs Luke anyway? – Carol Kane
And others thought it was downright offensive:
George Lucas has made a movie even more racist and sexist than the first. I would think that Billy Dee Williams would resent being the token black in the film. Also, there was only one other woman, apart from Carrie Fisher, in the movie. – Richard Hess
Even Starlog’s own staff writer David Gerrold wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, as evidenced by his review:
I liked it. I really did. I just didn’t like it enough. Just about every other critic in the country has been telling you how good the picture is; they’ve been falling over themselves to tell you. It’s embarrassing. I feel guilty for not liking it as much as I’m supposed to.
All in all, it sounds like The Last Jedi is getting similar treatment that The Empire Strikes Back received all those years ago, only amplified by the presence of the Internet. Time will tell where it lands in the saga’s “Best Of” rankings.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now playing in theaters.