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Joss Whedon says the ending to The Empire Strikes Back was a "terrible idea"

08.22.2013

Fanboy Rage: Commence!

Despite being a lifelong fan of the STAR WARS franchise, Joss Whedon has no plans to direct any of the forthcoming sequels due to his commitment to Marvel and THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. But that doesn't mean the outspoken filmmaker and geek idol can't share his opinion on the series he grew up loving. In fact, Whedon will go so far as to criticize the film many consider the best in the whole series: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

In the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, Whedon was asked questions ranging from BUFFY to THE AVENGERS and STAR WARS, but it was his strong comments about the ending of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK that caught me off guard. Whedon calls the ending "appalling" and a "terrible idea". Why does the filmmaker feel so strongly?

“Well, it’s not an ending,” Whedon explained about the 1980 film, which had a cliffhanger leading into the next entry of the series, Return of the Jedi. “It’s a Come Back Next Week, or in three years. And that upsets me. I go to movies expecting to have a whole experience. If I want a movie that doesn’t end I’ll go to a French movie. That’s a betrayal of trust to me. A movie has to be complete within itself, it can’t just build off the first one or play variations.”

While I wouldn't go so far as to call it a betrayal of trust, I think that Whedon is missing the entire point of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. George Lucas was heavily influenced by the pulp fiction serials from his youth, many of which ended abruptly with the heroes in dire conditions. The cliffhanger is a staple of those types of movies and television shows as well as comic books. If handled correctly, as in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, a cliffhanger can build momentum and anticipation for the next film, even if that is years away.

While I appreciate that the Marvel films have all existed as standalone movies that feed into each other without leaving major storylines unresolved, there is nothing wrong with a little fun with the audience. It remains to be seen if Joss Whedon takes his own advice and doesn't just build on and play variations with THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

Extra Tidbit: Do you agree with Whedon about the ending to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK?

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