I love democracy. I love the Republic.
The people have decided. In yet another overwhelming landslide victory, The Empire Strikes Back has claimed the day - and the crown of the Star Wars Madness tournament. The championship stage was set to feature the first two entires in the Star Wars saga, a battle between the original classic and its iconic sequel. We asked our readers to decide which film was the master, and the results were pretty convincing. The circle is now complete - when Empire was first released, it was but the learner; now it is the master. Only a master of evil? True to its name, not a lot of things go right for the heroes in Empire, but the dark side has won over the hearts of many fans. A New Hope had a good run, but in the end it stood no chance against its mighty succesor.
Fans of the Original Trilogy simultaneously couldn't have been happier to see A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back reach the championship round, while also dreading having to choose between the two. Based on the final results, it appears that the choice wasn't that difficult after all. Empire completely humiliated the feeble victory for the Alliance in destroying the first Death Star, proving that Darth Vader and the Emperor have the fans' ultimate loyalty. While the original film set the bar high, its sequel blew everything it did right out of the Kamino waters. A New Hope is a brilliant modern retelling of timeless fairy tales set in the galaxy far, far away, imbuing themes of friendship, loyalty, and, of course, hope, all of which are meant to teach younger audiences to be brave and find their place in the ever-growing world. The Empire Strikes Back challenges the heroes of the trilogy in every way that its predecessor didn't, breaking them all down emotionally to test their resolve while giving them a heavy taste of failure that leaves them with nothing but hope by the time the credits role.
Pretty much everything the filmmakers did with Empire produced brilliant results.The introduction of Yoda pushed the mystical elements of the saga into uncharted waters, making Obi-Wan Kenobi's teachings seem dull by comparison. Watching a small puppet lift Luke's X-Wing out of the Dagobah swamp is one of the many chill-inducing moments in Empire, heavily tied to the whole point of the film: if we would only just believe in ourselves, anything can be accomplished. Han and Leia's relationship proved that Star Wars could be romantic just as much as it could be an action-adventure, and by the time we've reached the climax of the film our scruffy scoundrel is prepared to sacrifice all for his princess and co-pilot.
And then there's Vader. A New Hope gave us the epic introduction to the dark warrior, but Empire is when Darth Vader truly becomes the menacing icon that has dominated pop culture for decades. What makes Vader so brilliant is that he's more than just a brute force; he demonstrates his intellect on multiple ocassions, punishes his own officers for failure, toys with our hero and easily defeats him when he's seen enough, and holds one of the darkest secrets in the galaxy, adding to his many layers of complexity. The Original Trilogy was Luke Skywalker's story, but The Empire Strikes Back solidified Star Wars as Darth Vader's saga.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM STAR WARS MADNESS
As always, Star Wars fans are incredibly dedicated to what they love. The Empire Strikes Back's victory is the least surprising outcome possible. In retrospect, Revenge of the Sith edging out A New Hope may have made for a much closer championship round, allowing the older Original Trilogy generation to duke it out with the up and coming Prequel Trilogy generation of fans.
The majority of the results weren't too surprising. The original films are still among the top dogs of Star Wars, over 40 years after they took the world by storm. The prequel films are starting to see more appreciation among the Star Wars fan community, as is evident by Episode III's near miss at a shot for the crown. The sequel fims were a mixed bag in the voting, with The Force Awakens putting up a decent fight while its follow-ups were summarily blown out. The spinoff movies seem to be something of a hit - Solo came up just short in advancing to the second round, but Rogue One rightfully made it all the way to the Final 4, until Darth Vader struck it down in the hallway of judgement. In good time, a new era of Star Wars films will begin, likely taking us to parts of the timeline that we've never seen before. Maybe one of those films will become the new Star Wars champion. Or maybe Empire will forever reign supreme...
Star Wars fans are the best in the galaxy, and we are incredibly humbled by our readers' participation in this tournament. At The Direct, our mission is to provide you all with news and entertainment that will enhance your experience as part of the fan community. This tournament was a fun way to hear from you all, and we'd like nothing more than to continue our interactions with each of you. Please share your thoughts with us about the outcome of this competition, let us know what you'd like to see more of, and sign-up to be a member of The Direct community to take part in more of the fun we look forward to having with you all as we continue to grow. Thank you for taking part in this friendly tournament, and may the Force be with you. Always.