“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is currently heating things up at the box office, a critical and commercial success that continues one of the biggest movie franchises of our time. But while watching the film, we couldn’t help but be struck by the similarities between “Catching Fire” and another second chapter in a massive sci-fi franchise: “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back.”
Though most of the actors in “Catching Fire” probably weren’t even born when “Empire” first hit theaters, the connections are unmistakable. Herewith, seven weird parallels between “Catching Fire” and “Empire Strikes Back.” Oh, and massive spoilers for both, though you’ve had 33 years to get caught up on “Empire” so Darth Vader is Luke’s father, get over it:
Nowhere was the connection more pronounced between the two than the end of “Catching Fire.”
In “Empire Strikes Back,” Luke Skywalker has had his hand cut off and then quickly fixed, his best friend Han Solo kidnapped by the Empire, and is on a rebel ship headed to the far reaches of the Galaxy.
In “Catching Fire,” Katniss Everdeen has had her hand nearly cut off and then quickly fixed, her best friend Peeta kidnapped by The Capitol, and is on a rebel ship headed to the far reaches of Panem.
Oh, and we swear, if you listen closely to the music over the (excellent) close-up of Katniss at the end of “Catching Fire,” you can straight up here the “Star Wars” theme mixed into James Newton Howard’s score.
There are also some pretty clear parallels in the arcs of Lando Calrissian and Plutarch Heavensbee in their respective movies. Both are men of means forced to collaborate with an evil empire in order to keep their station in life. Both are ambitious. Both seem to be potentially trustworthy at first, before revealing the full extent of their betrayal… And then joining the rebellion.
Heck, Lando teaming up with shaggy, loyal wookie Chewbacca at the end of “Empire” even nicely matches Plutarch teaming up shaggy, loyal mentor Haymitch at the end of “Catching Fire.”
Finnick And Mags vs. Luke And Yoda
One of our favorite parts of “Catching Fire” were the scenes where blonde-haired hero Finnick would carry his old, wise mentor Mags through the swampy jungle Arena on his back. Sound familiar? In “Empire Strikes Back,” blonde-haired hero Luke Skywalker trains to become a Jedi by carrying his old, wise mentor Yoda through the swampy jungle of Dagobah on his back.
Not convinced? How about when Mags dies by disappearing into a cloud of mist, while Yoda dies by… Disappearing into a cloud of mist? Granted, the latter happens in “Return of the Jedi,” but our point stands.
Please Stop Kissing Your Sister
Katniss and Gale are basically brother and sister, right? Yet there goes Gale in “Catching Fire,” smooching Ms. Everdeen like there’s no tomorrow and making us squirm uncomfortably in our seats. In “Empire Strikes Back,” Luke famously makes out with Leia, who later on turns out to be his sister. Interestingly, these are also both very much like “Flowers in the Attic,” and now we’re grossed out.
Ok, fine, this is a stretch, but Katniss slipping into Peeta’s arms in the first act of “Catching Fire” immediately made us think of Luke slipping inside of a Tauntaun in “Empire.” Because we were looking too hard. And we thought Peeta smelled bad on the outside…
Rue The Force, Luke
In “Empire,” Luke is visited and inspired to act by the spirit of his deceased friend Obi-Wan Kenobi, who died during a confrontation mid-way through “A New Hope.” In “Catching Fire,” Katniss is inspired by the spirit of her deceased friend Rue, who died during a confrontation mid-way through “The Hunger Games.” The world of “The Hunger Games” doesn’t have The Force and ghosts, so Rue doesn’t appear the exact same way Obi-Wan does in “Empire,” but we do get a video of Rue, and a painting. Both times, it forces Katniss into action.
These were obvious from the first movie, but the evil, decadent Empire is The Capitol; the faceless, dressed all in white Peacekeepers are the faceless, all dressed in white Stormtroopers; and the ancient all-powerful President Snow is the ancient all-powerful Emperor.
The Darth Stands Alone
There is no equivalent to Darth Vader. And no, evil Peacekeeper Thread doesn’t count. Shut it.
So there you go! As long as “Mockingjay” doesn’t feature an entirely new, plucky group of rebels using homemade weapons to take down the Capitol, like how “Return of the Jedi” introduced the entirely new, plucky Ewoks, who used homemade weapons to take down The Empire, we should be fine oh wait that’s exactly what happens never mind.
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is now in theaters. “Empire Strikes Back” is available on DVD/Blu-Ray.