Okay, crazy idea ahead.
My mind has been on the opening of ROTJ today, and the pros and cons of making various changes.
I guess it is not necessarily a problem, but when they originally cut the scene of Vader communing with Luke and Luke building his lightsaber in the Tatooine cave, they lost a natural segue from the Death Star/Vader plot to the Luke/Jabba’s Palace plot. I understand why they cut, because building up that mystery is part of the fun of the first act. Plus, it is cooler when Luke’s first appearance is his entrance into the palace, and then not seeing his brand new green lightsaber until it pops out of R2. Also, Vader’s “Luuuuuuuuke… Luuuuuuuke…” is a little cheesy, and even if you wanted to include it, the quality isn’t really that great. It is a cool scene, a really cool scene, but by including it, you may be giving away too much at the start of the film.
Other people have suggested putting the Emperor’s arrival at the head of the film. One positive to this is that it makes the beginning of the film a little more grandiose, and it establishes the battle for Luke’s soul, which is the heart of the film, in the very first scene. This scene would add some food for thought for the viewer as we see Luke’s darker side during Han’s rescue. On the other hand, you would lose a solid entrance for Vader himself, as well as building up to the Emperor showing up later in the film. “The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am” is a pretty cool line and it would kinda suck to lose it. Not to mention you would be cutting an entire scene out of the film.
So, I was thinking of alternate ways to better connect the opening scene with Vader to the rest of the first act Jabba sequence without removing that scene or ruining a lot of the mystery surrounding the rescue mission, and then this idea hit me:
Vader: The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
Vader walks away from the shocked officer and exits the hangar. Vader continues down a hallway and onto an elevator. We wipe to to Vader in his meditation chamber. His chair spins around to the face the view screen on the wall. It flickers with static and then reveals the helmeted face of Boba Fett. It appears he is within or outside Jabba’s palace.
Vader: Skywalker will come for Captain Solo. I want him alive, bounty hunter.
Boba Fett: As you wish.
The view screen flickers off and we wipe to Tatooine, where we see the droids approaching the palace.
This idea accomplishes a few things. First, we create a stronger narrative through line between the first scene with Vader on the Death Star and the entire Jabba sequence. It doesn’t take away from any of the mystery of the first act because Luke coming to rescue Han is established in the opening crawl. Plus, we’re adding a brand new scene rather than deleting anything. I think this is a clearer way to establish that Boba Fett is trying to capture Luke for Vader than to try and insert vague Boba dialogue that might just stick out. Also, Vader and Boba communicating through view screens is reminiscent of how they communicated with each other in the Holiday Special, so it is a funny little parallel to that. I’m pretty sure you can construct these lines with existing dialogue. Obviously Boba already says “As you wish” in ESB (So you can use Morrison or Wingreen). I know Vader says all of those words at some point but we’d have to play around to see if we can get it to sound natural. I know at the very least we can get him to say, “I want Skywalker alive, bounty hunter.”
One downside would be reusing ESB footage, but ROTJ already uses ANH footage, and we could flip shots or something if necessary to make it feel a little different. Maybe it wouldn’t work but I think it would be worth playing around with. It doesn’t solve all of the issues with the first act, but it kills two birds with one stone by 1) better connecting the opening scene with the rest of the Jabba sequence, and 2) adding to the Boba Fett changes that we’ve already discussed.