The Biggest Problems With the Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy

Star Wars logo
Star Wars logo | Lucasfilm

Among most Star Wars fans, there is little comparison between the prequel and original trilogies. While the former is derided for its wooden performances, overuse of CGI and childish humor, the latter is often considered largely beyond reproach. However, contrary to this perception, even the first three films in George Lucas’ epic space opera are not without flaws of their own.

Overall, the 1977 original and its sequels are, of course, classic films adored by generations, but here are seven elements of the original Star Wars trilogy that prove that it is far from perfect. For the record, we’re focusing only on self-contained issues within A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and not discrepancies between the two trilogies.

1. Introducing Ben (or is it Obi-Wan?) Kenobi

Alex Guinness in A New Hope
Alex Guinness in A New Hope | Lucasfilm

Imagine you’re an aging Jedi Master hiding on a distant planet so that you can keep watch over your mortal enemy’s only son. Wouldn’t your first measure be to change your name to something that bears no resemblance to your former life? Apparently, Obi-Wan Kenobi has little concern for such secrecy, as he only manages to ditch his first name in favor of the more prosaic “Ben.”

Moreover, he has such a well-established profile that local farmboy Luke instantly knows who he is and where to find him. An argument could be made that young Skywalker might be able to keep his surname — since presumably Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine don’t know he exists — but as for Kenobi, there’s simply no excuse. Master Yoda would have known better.

2. Blood in the Cantina

The Cantina brawl in A New Hope
The Cantina brawl in A New Hope | Lucasfilm

Over the course of the Star Wars saga, we’ve seen people sliced in half and countless limbs severed during lightsaber battles. Never once, however, did even the slightest amount of onscreen blood appear. This makes logical sense, considering that the heat of a lightsaber blade would presumably cauterize any wounds it might leave behind instantly.

However, during Luke and Obi-Wan’s memorable visit to the Mos Eisley Cantina, Master Kenobi is forced to take violent measures to ensure Luke’s safety, slicing off a bar patron’s arm in the process. The wound clearly leaves a bit of a bloody mess behind, egregiously making it the only instance that a lightsaber attack results in such carnage. While Lucas could have made this decision prior to establishing the rules of lightsaber combat, it’s puzzling that the blood hasn’t been digitally removed in any of the subsequent revisions to A New Hope.

3. Luke and Leia’s liplock

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Anthony Daniels in The Empire Strikes Back
Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Anthony Daniels in The Empire Strikes Back | Lucasfilm

Fans still shudder at that cringe-worthy moment when Luke and Leia share a brief kiss early on in The Empire Strikes Back. True, the Skywalker twins aren’t aware of their familial connection just yet, but with the film’s cliffhanger ending, Lucas and company clearly knew that a third chapter was coming.

Even now, it remains dubious that they planned on making Leia the “another” that Yoda speaks of, despite the fact that Luke speaks to Leia telepathically by film’s end. Lucas could have easily come to a decision on this particular plot detail a bit earlier, but as it stands, the moment the Skywalker twins lock lips comes across as awkward, out-of-place and a clear sign that the powers-that-be were playing it fast and loose with plot reveals in the original trilogy.

4. R.I.P. for the Rancor

Paul Brooke in Return of the Jedi
Paul Brooke in Return of the Jedi | Lucasfilm

The opening act of Return of the Jedi features our heroes valiantly swooping in to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt’s palace. However, Luke nearly meets his end at the hands of Jabba’s treacherous Rancor. Luckily, he manages to slay the beast and escape with his life. It’s a victorious, cheer-worthy moment for fans but one that is immediately interrupted by the Rancor’s Keeper pushing his way to the front to see his murdered friend, sobbing so hard that he has to be ushered away.

The unnecessary moment marks a bizarre tonal shift, almost as if director Richard Marquand attempted to imbue the scene with a “monsters can be loved too” message that feels totally disingenuous in the middle of a Star Wars film. At least the divisive Ewoks serve a purpose in the film’s story.

5. Boba Fett’s disappointing demise

Jeremy Bulloch in Return of the Jedi
Jeremy Bulloch in Return of the Jedi | Lucasfilm

Few of the original trilogy’s supporting characters are as beloved as the enigmatic bounty hunter that delivers a carbonite-clad Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt. So fans were largely disappointed when Boba Fett is unceremoniously “killed” (in non-canon novels and comics, he is shown to survive) by a temporarily blind Han and sent right into the mouth of the Sarlaac Pit.

For a character as cherished as Boba Fett, a more climactic end would have been far more fitting, especially since he does briefly face off against Luke during the brawl that kicks into gear aboard Jabba’s sail barge. After all, even his father was taken out in dramatic fashion by a Jedi Master.

6. Another Death Star?

The Empire in Return of the Jedi
The Empire in Return of the Jedi | Lucasfilm

The third chapter in a trilogy is often signified by its tendency to bring the story full-circle and connect all three films with some unifying element. In the case of the conclusion to the original Star Wars trilogy, Lucas and company took this to mean “rehash the evil plot of the first film”.

The Empire’s construction of a second Death Star not only smacks of laziness on behalf of Emperor Palpatine but of the creative team behind Return of the Jedi itself. It’s an unimaginative, uninspired way to bring the three-part tale to a close, even if the resulting space battle makes for a rollicking final action set piece. Of course, the Empire would logically have an epic weapon at their disposal to escalate the threat against the Rebel Alliance, but a fresh idea would have made this finale so much sweeter.

7. Leia has the Force… but not really

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi | Lucasfilm

Of all the undeveloped plot elements of the original trilogy, one of the most disappointing is the fact that we only just barely learn of Leia’s potential ability to use the Force, as her brother and father do in the trilogy. She is only told of her Force-friendly family members late in the third film, and no attempt is made for her to exhibit any Force-sensitive characteristics, aside from her brief mental connection with Luke at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

Not having a female use the Force is a huge missed opportunity both for fans as well as the Star Wars films as a whole, but undoubtedly, future entries in the franchise will make up for Leia’s lack of demonstrated Jedi powers. With the character now returned in The Force Awakens, perhaps there’s still time for Leia to wield a lightsaber.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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