People were riding high after the original Star Wars came out in 1977. The universe felt like it was saved, they had a whole new cast of heroes to root for, everyone was happy. Except for Chewie, who never got a medal for helping out. Which still sits wrong.
Nevertheless, the excitement for making a sequel was out of this world. But as all Star Wars fans know, The Empire Strikes Back struck a very different chord. It was sad and bleak. Han Solo was in carbonite, betrayed by his friends. Luke's hand was cut off, his veneer of happiness gone knowing that Darth Vader was his father. Leia was mourning the loss of her love, and Chewie the loss of his best friend. It's pretty sad!
And audiences thought so too.
George Lucas and his trusted advisors thought the ending was too downbeat, so they shot a new scene in the medical bay, where Luke has a new hand, and he and Leia and the gang look out on the horizon, knowing they have some work to do.
As Mark Hammill tweeted, "Filmed 4 months after we wrapped principal photography on #ESB, it wasn't a 're-shoot', it was an added scene. Concerned about the downbeat ending & thorough defeat of the protagonists, they wanted to add an uplifting moment of hope & rejuvenation to reassure the audience."
These kinds of tweaks are only natural, but the idea that they did it four months later after the picture was locked is wild. I guess when you're following up on the biggest hit of all time, you want to make sure you nail it. George Lucas and Irvin Kershner came together and put together this ending, which sets us up for the adventures yet to come.
Let us know what you think in the comments.