How Jim Henson’s Muppets Foreshadowed A Creepy Luke & Leia Moment

Mark Hamill’s “The Muppet Show” hosting appearance doesn’t just foreshadow Luke and Leia’s “The Empire Strikes Back” kiss — it also previews an important outfit Luke wears during “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” Audiences had never seen Luke’s tan uniform — which he wears during his famous duel with Darth Vader on Bespin — before the episode aired in February 1980. They wouldn’t get to see it again until May 21 of the same year, when “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in theatres. That’s quite a big spoiler — and it foreshadows an even bigger moment, the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke and Leia’s biological father. Since “Star Wars” fanatics hadn’t gotten to see their favorite characters since 1978’s infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special,” getting an eyeful of Luke in a new costume, hanging out with Chewbacca and his droid pals, was quite the unusual thrill.

How did the suit end up on Hamill in the episode? The close friendship between George Lucas and Jim Henson facilitated things, as did both cultural institution’s shooting locales. “The Muppet Show” filmed just one town over from the studio where “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” was in its final stages of production, which made sharing props incredibly easy. That resulted in an iconic Muppet moment — and one that helped define the “Star Wars” saga forever, for better or for worse.


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