Luke Skywalker and his friends may have succeeded in rescuing Han Solo in Return of the Jedi, but most of their plan to free him made absolutely no sense. This has always been the most glaring issue in a film that was already considered the weakest part of the original Star Wars trilogy. The Jabba’s Palace scenes do succeed in several aspects, from the incredible costume and creature designs to the sense of tension that gives the heroes one last adventure before the rest of the movie. Unfortunately, the questions surrounding Luke’s plan distract from the fun parts of the first act and end up hurting Return of the Jedi.
However, Luke’s plan to rescue Han could have easily been fixed, improving the entire movie in the process. By taking what worked about the Jabba’s Palace scenes and discarding moments that caused confusion, Return of the Jedi‘s first act would have done a better job of setting the plot in motion. These changes may not have elevated Return of the Jedi to the same level as The Empire Strikes Back, but improving the script would have cast the movie in a much more favorable light. The first step in doing so would be recognizing just how convoluted Luke’s Return of the Jedi plan actually was.
Luke Skywalker’s Plan To Rescue Han Solo Was Unnecessarily Complicated
The biggest problem with Luke’s rescue plan is that it is ridiculously complicated. Instead of taking a more direct approach, like the rescues of the previous films, Luke has different characters sneak into Jabba’s Palace one at a time. The result is a first act full of redundancy as ever more heroes are captured, which only makes Luke’s job more difficult later. Even if one of the first two rescue attempts had succeeded, Luke still would have had to rescue R2-D2, C-3PO, and later Chewbacca, as he surely wouldn’t trade several friends just to save one.
To be fair, Luke’s plan was clearly structured this way to serve the story in key aspects. Having three rescue attempts allows each of the main characters to receive their own reintroduction after The Empire Strikes Back, while also gradually building to the final confrontation on Jabba’s sail barge. There’s nothing wrong with committing a decent amount of time to Jabba’s Palace, wrapping up a subplot that began at the start of the trilogy, but the movie drags it out for far too long. Even so, there’s a way that all these goals could’ve been accomplished while making Luke’s rescue plan much more logical.
How To Fix Luke’s Plan To Rescue Han From Jabba’s Palace
C-3PO told R2-D2 that “Lando Calrissian and poor Chewbacca never returned from this awful place.” so the movie should start with Chewbacca already being captured while Lando poses as a guard. From there, Lando can free Chewbacca and let in the other characters, who would then split up to complete their own part of the rescue. Each character would still get their own introduction, including Leia removing her helmet after freeing Han, but now they’d all work together. After the plan goes wrong, all of them would be captured and forced to serve Jabba, leading to Luke’s arrival where he makes one last attempt to resolve the situation without violence.
Luke’s Rancor fight and the sail barge battle would play out relatively the same, giving Jabba plenty of screen time in addition to Return of the Jedi‘s major action scenes. The difference is that the Jabba’s Palace portion of the movie wouldn’t drag on any longer than necessary, and Luke’s initial plan would make a lot more sense. All the same goals would be accomplished and all the best parts of the first act would remain intact, but this time there wouldn’t be any questions distracting from Han’s rescue. However, this wouldn’t just fix the beginning of Return of the Jedi, it would also improve the rest of the film.
Why Fixing Luke’s Plan Would Improve Return Of The Jedi
Fixing Luke’s plan would have afforded the opportunity to improve Return of the Jedi by expanding the movie’s best moments. The Jabba’s Palace sequence took up too much time, so shortening it would greatly improve the movie’s pacing. This is a problem that also plagues Return of the Jedi‘s second act, often feeling like the story is killing time until the much more exciting third act. With Han’s rescue taking up less time, moments including Luke’s talk with Obi-Wan Kenobi, the action sequences on Endor, and Han’s overall role in the film would’ve had more time and made the movie more engaging.
However, these moments would only be slightly expanded, as one dragged-out segment shouldn’t be traded for another. Return of the Jedi would’ve been shorter than the final version, but a movie with good pacing and efficient storytelling is always preferable, even if it’s not as long. Other Star Wars movies would later suffer from the same problem, so Return of the Jedi could’ve set a precedent by cutting unnecessary material. Return of the Jedi still holds up today as a satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy, even if Luke’s rescue plan makes no sense, but future Star Wars films should learn from its first act to improve their own stories.
This story originally appeared on Screenrant