At the end of Empire Strikes Back, Luke loses everything and his world is upside down. Lost his hand. Check. He found out his father is Vadar. Check. Finds out best friend has been taken away frozen in carbonite. Check. He’s hanging on by a thin thread. The pipes and systems of Bespin send him down and down and down until he’s hanging there on the bottom of the city, nearly broken, a far throw from the Jedi who first showed up to save his friends. Now, you know he’s gonna survive. He’s the hero! But how will he ever salvage this situation? How will he ever defeat Vader? How can he reconcile all these conflicts of good and evil inside him? The stakes are now so HUGE. Not just for the rebellion but for LUKE. By the end of Return of the Jedi, the fight is barely about combat anymore. Yes, Luke and Vader fight, but the real fight is against the emperor’s manipulation.
Luke vs Vader in Empire Strikes Back is a great example of probably the greatest fight in movies. The two standoffs and you think Luke might have a chance, he’s so confident and freshly trained. Vader, a true master, tests him at first with basic swordplay. Soon Luke’s sweating. He barely escapes Vader’s carbonite trap. He’s climbing ropes to get away, using gas lines to repel Vader. He’s determined but clearly outmatched. Vader is throwing space junk at him, toying with him, hiding around the corner, and waiting to pounce. Finally, Vader corners Luke on the platform where there is no room for error or escape. Luke’s true face begins to show, a small desperate boy still hanging onto hope that his place in the universe is simply “the hero with the magic sword.” He lashes out but Vader easily cuts off his hand, ending the fight and crushing that dream as the lightsaber is lost. Vader then uses his knowledge to land the final blow. The truth Luke is nothing. He screams…. “that’s impossible!!” He looks nothing like he did before. The real Luke Skywalker is revealed. The boy we saw standing against the twin suns is actually going to have to earn his place in his own story’s hero. All this in a single fight scene.