Posted by Liam on March 14, 2022 at 10:03 AM CST
Hey there, Rebelscum fans! This week on the site we’re exploring the iconic planet Bespin that first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. Today we’ll be looking at why Bespin is such an important location and its context within the franchise, but stay tuned throughout the week for more articles, insights, videos, and information about the best merchandising content that collectors should keep their eyes peeled for.

While A New Hope saved its epic showdown between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire until the third act, The Empire Strikes Back got started with a bang at the Battle of Hoth. It doesn’t go as well for the Rebels; discovered by Darth Vader’s probe droids, the Rebels are forced to abandon their base quickly and scatter the fleet across the galaxy. This meant that the film couldn’t end with another giant battle. The stakes are more personal and the drama is more complex, and it all happens on the planet of Bespin.

Bespin is one of the most memorable locations in the original trilogy. We never get to see a planet that’s simply living under the Empire’s rule, as Tatooine is under the Hutt’s domain, and Dagobah, Yavin IV, and Endor are fairly untouched by the conflict. It was the first time we saw an urban metroplex in the galaxy, and before the action starts we get a sense of what daily life on Cloud City is like for average civilians. Return of the Jedi’s ending montage includes moments set on Bespin, suggesting that the civilians are opposed to Imperial rule but remained silent out of fear.

The Empire Strikes Back divides its characters, and Han, Leia, Chewie, and C-3PO only come to Bespin out of desperation. The Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive is failing and the Empire’s ships are hot on their feet, so Han is forced to land with an old acquaintance who he’s left on uneven terms with. It further complicates his fraught relationship with Leia; The Empire Strikes Back is the most romantic film in the original trilogy, and Han and Leia's confusion about their feelings reaches a climax on Bespin. Part of that is due to the appearance by Han’s charismatic old friend: Lando Calrissian.

Lando is one of the most unique characters in the saga. He’s caught in a moral dilemma; a deal with the Empire doesn’t only save his own skin, but the lives of all the people under his domain in Cloud City. Selling out his former friend is an unfortunate necessity in his eyes. However, Lando soon realizes that “this deal is getting worse all the time.” He doesn’t know that Darth Vader has no intentions of setting the planet free, and that Han’s fate will be determined by the risky carbon freezing process. If Han manages to survive, he’s still at the mercy of whatever Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt decide to do with him.

Of course, the most important part of the Bespin sequence is the climactic duel between Luke and Vader. The “I am your father” moment is one of the most iconic moments in the entire franchise, and it was a true shock to those who witnessed it in theaters for the first time. Lucas was famously so paranoid about the reveal leaking (even in the pre-Internet era) that James Earl Jones was the only cast member that was informed. Mark Hamill was initially told the line was “Obi-Wan killed your father,” but Irvin Kershner eventually revealed to him the truth in order to make his shriek more convincing.

What do you think, Rebelscum fans? Is Bespin one of your favorite planets? Do you think the Luke vs. Vader duel is the greatest lightsaber fight in the franchise? Let us know in the forums, and as always, may the Force be with you!

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