'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' truly expanded the scope of the franchise in a permanent way
'The Empire Strikes Back' opened the door to exploring the galaxy, featuring a wide variety of settings that fueled fans' imaginations for years
It is the 40th Anniversary of 'The Empire Strikes Back,' and in those years, 'Star Wars' has come a long way. A whole collection of movies, tv shows, books, comics, video games, and more, the franchise is a multimedia experience with one of the most detailed settings in history. Looking back, the nature of the extended 'Star Wars' universe owes a huge debt of gratitude to 'The Empire Strikes Back' for expanding the scope of the franchise in a permanent way.
'Star Wars: A New Hope' centered around the franchise's most recognizable plucky rebels. It was largely Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) story - from the death of his family to his first steps wielding the Force to take the Death Star down. We're introduced to his major allies, but it was still largely a story centered around Luke. What's more, though the Empire has taken control over the entire galaxy, the only two locations that are really focused on are Tatooine, Alderaan, and the Death Star - and two of those locations are blown to smithereens by the film's end.
'The Empire Strikes Back' truly changed all that, giving audiences its first real look at the wider galaxy. From battles on the ice planet of Hoth, to the swamps of Dagobah, to asteroids in space and the luxurious world of Cloud City, the film fueled fans' imagination for years with just how expansive the 'Star Wars' galaxy was, and how varied. Not even 'The Return of the Jedi' covered as much physical ground, but once the full scope of the galaxy was glimpsed at, the 'Star Wars' franchise never went back.
In the years since, the 'Star Wars' galaxy has been extensively mapped out, with entire solar systems identified, named, and written extensively on. The varied technologies, cultures and societies that make up the world almost rival 'Star Trek' - and that was a series that explored new life in the universe with every episode. While 'Star Wars' fans value the classic locations of the galaxy, they're also hungry for new settings, and new stories, which is what has made the extended universe such an integral part of 'Star Wars' lore.
'The Empire Strikes Back' truly opened the door up to just how big, and exciting, exploring 'Star Wars' can be, and in its 40th Anniversary, it's worth celebrating that legacy.
'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' is now available to stream on Disney+.