Next year marks the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, which, as one knows from going through the Star Wars movies in order, marked the conclusion of the Original Trilogy set in a galaxy far, far away. All this time later, and like its two predecessors, the third Star Wars movie is still beloved by many. In Shawn Levy’s case, it’s also influential, as the director of next year’s Deadpool 3 has revealed that it inspired the Ryan Reynolds-led threquel in a specific way, and now I’m excited to see it.
Levy, whose other credits include Real Steel, Free Guy and The Adam Project, chatted with Esquire, among other things, about the moviegoing experience, and he kicked off this portion of the conversation recalling repeatedly seeing Return of the Jedi as a kid. The filmmaker was specifically enamored with the part of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader’s duel when the latter threatened to turn Leia to the dark side, prompting the former to start brutally attacking his father. Four decades later, Levy turned to this scene as inspiration for an important moment in Deadpool 3, saying:
I’m now making Deadpool 3, the production of which was paused because of the actors’ strike. For one key scene in the movie, I said to my stunt and action team, ‘Guys, this is the Jedi moment.’ I pulled up that scene of Vader and Luke on my phone and restudied how it was photographed, how it was blocked, the framing, the tempo. The keen Star Wars fan will see the shot in my Deadpool movie that was inspired by a moment that I saw in a theater decades ago. That’s a forever memory. And that’s a treasure.
That Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader moment captured what Shawn Levy described as the “essence of the blockbuster,” which he defined as when “the tone is singular, when the themes are resonant, when the experience is connective, when the audience is reminded that the world is far bigger than ourselves.” So he turned to that portion of Return of the Jedi in order to create a similar feel in Deadpool 3. This is just the latest movie to pull from Star Wars’ Original Trilogy, with another more recent example being how Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was similar to The Empire Strikes Back.
Levy didn’t provide any additional details about what his Return of the Jedi-like moment in Deadpool 3 entails, though it sounds like it could unfold within the upcoming Marvel movie’s climax. Still, I’m glad he mentioned this aspect of the movie. Had I not read Levy’s quote, it would never have occurred to me to think of Return of the Jedi as I watched Deadpool 3, but now I know to keep an eye out for how the threequel will be channeling it on multiple fronts.
As for when we can expect Deadpool 3, while its official release date is May 3, 2024, that’s unlikely to stick. Principal photography paused in July because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, but even if that were to end soon, filming reportedly wouldn’t resume until January. Other members of the Deadpool 3 cast include Hugh Jackman, Morena Baccarin and Brianna Hildebrand, but if you’re looking for something new to watch from Levy now, check out the limited series All the Light We Cannot See, which can be streamed with a Netflix subscription.