‘Stranger Things 4 ‘ continues to break records on Netflix while keeping its second half, or rather its final act, in the fridge to finish in early July, and the conversation continues to rotate around its villainous Vecna or its satanic panic theme in the 80s. However, there is an element of the season that draws attention and has not been discussed too much until now, and it is the similarity that the story begins to take concerning the original trilogy of ‘Star Wars.
Taking into account that this batch of films was released between 1977 and 1983, the children of ‘Stranger Things’ would have been at the perfect age to follow the creation of George Lucas, so it is normal that like the rest of the references of the 80 of the series, has been incorporated as one more piece of the reflection of pop culture that it proposes. Without going any further, ‘ Return of the Jedi ‘ would have been released only a few months before November 1983, the moment in which season 1 begins.
The integration of ‘Star Wars’ into the cultural map of the 80s
The fantasy franchise was already a cultural phenomenon by then, so the Duffer brothers incorporated many references to the films into the dialogue, often having the characters compare their circumstances to situations well known to the public, a bit in the manner by Kevin Smith. In this season 4, for example, when they roleplay Dustin quotes the “Never tell me the odds!” from ‘The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo tells C3PO, Leia, and the team on the run as he is about to lead them into an asteroid field.
Will and Mike are also seen watching the Ewoks animated series on television and Dustin have a remote-controlled R2-D2 doll in his room, but beyond these details, many structural circumstances are reinforced in the new season. , characters and themes that recover traditional pulses of the saga, taking them to a darker and more terrifying terrain, even from superhero movies to ‘X-Men’, but rescuing key elements that show that the Duffers are following the path of crumbs of bread by George Lucas.
In this season, for example, there are many Hooper parallels to Han Solo, with his fake death being the carbonite equivalent, as Joyce and Murray go to rescue him from the Soviets. In this case, it could be like Leia and Lando rescuing Solo in Jabba the Hut’s empire, they also disguise themselves to infiltrate posing as prisoner smugglers and there’s even a survival scene in an entertainment pit with a Demogorgon instead of Rancor.
But the idea of using ‘Star Wars as a model is not new to the series. In ‘ Stranger Things 2,’ to motivate the team, the Duffers looked to the success of ‘ The Empire Strikes Back,’ believing its sequel could do just as well. The idea for the controversial episode ‘The Lost Sister’ stems from this idea, but now being seen as a very minor season, perhaps having assumed that the series will last longer than expected, the Duffers have rewound to recycle some elements of that and make Season 4 the ‘Episode V’ of their story.
Thus, they not only reuse the idea of music to rescue the lost within the upside-down world, as they did with Will and ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’, but they have once again tried to separate Eleven from the group to give it the nuance from the Luke Skywalker arc. After all, the gang compared Eleven to Yoda for her telekinetic abilities, so the idea of Eleven’s power as “the force” of this universe was already planted in some way, and her return to Doctor Brenner (Papa) is its journey to Dagobah, in many ways.
In one of the critical moments of ‘The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda warns Luke to complete his training, even though his friends are in danger. This option is the same one presented to him by Doctor Sam Owens in the restaurant, where he tells him that he can go save his friends in Hawkins now or finish the process not only to recover his powers but uncertainly amplify them.
The dark side of the force
Eleven’s training is basically to remember her training in the Hawkins Laboratory, for which she must also face her greatest fear, that evil is within her because until that moment she fears that the massacre in the laboratory was her doing. His procedure is to dream, just as Luke must enter the nightmare of the swamp that shows him his greatest fear, that Darth Vader is his father, a bit also the same process that Rey follows in the grotto of the ‘Episode VIII’.
All three characters are orphaned and adopted, not by chance. But the most obvious idea in ‘Stranger Things 4’ is that we learn that Eleven’s powers have positive and negative poles, just as the ‘Star Wars’ mythology describes, the force has a very powerful dark side, and in the case of Jane believes that he is the only one that exists, however, in the end, he discovers that there is a good side of his power that does not come from anger and rage, but from pure love and good memories, in this case, the heartbreaking moment in which he relives his mother’s first hug.
And if the light side of the force has its hero, the dark side has its villain, and in this case, the wizard played by Jamie Campbell Bower is revealed not as Eleven’s father, in the manner of Darth Vader’s big twist, but Yes, almost like one of his “brothers”, just as children with special abilities with the same “Dad” are considered. C reel masks his intentions and his cruelty to recruit Eleven as the Emperor does not only with Luke Skywalker in ‘Return of the Jedi’ but with his father in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, of course, when he transforms he is deformed and corrupted by the world upside down, like Ian McDiarmid’s Palpatine.
A new hope
In addition, there are moments in his conversation that take us to key scenes of ‘Star Wars, for example, “Number One” speaks in the third person of himself, as Obi-Wan of Darth Vader as if he were someone other than Anakin, who for him has disappeared. He also tells the story as if he seems to want to forget, but in this case, it’s because he doesn’t want to uncover his master card to fool Eleven. There are also parallels in Henry Creel’s slaughter of the lab with Anakin’s slaughter of the Jedi academy students in ‘ Episode III’.
‘Stranger Things’ was born as a puzzle of cultural references to the 80s, but after seeing volume 1 of season 4, staying with that starting point image is insisting on ignoring how the series has known how to use nostalgia in a metatextual way, making his colorful and idealized universe of the decade strong in its characters and enemies, and now he has taken it a step further by building an epic and ambitious story that stands on its own.
But no one says that the Duffers haven’t learned from the best, and mimicking George Lucas’s creation, looking at his entropic skeleton and his emotional pulses, instead of just playing or winking is the ultimate homage they could do, who could learn the nefarious new creations for television under the official brand ‘Star Wars’, which continue to play everything to family casting, recurring cameos and cute versions of characters beloved 40 years ago.