Opinion: Five ways Return of the Jedi messed up Star Wars

Analysis by Brian Lowry, CNN

When Return of the Jedi brought the original Star Wars trilogy to a close in 1983, expectations were unfairly elevated for the movie, and later tempered, by the recognition it had the misfortune to follow The Empire Strikes Back, one of the best sequels ever.

Yet looking back 40 years after its initial release, as Jedi returns to cinemas to commemorate that anniversary, the missteps made by the third movie are still irritating.

That's in part because those shortcomings have echoed through the years, as subsequent Star Wars mythology has contorted itself, sometimes messily, in order to accommodate them.

To be fair, the movie did a lot of things well, from Luke Skywalker's enhanced powers -- put on display in the opening sequence in which he frees Han Solo -- to the breakneck chase on the Ewok moon, the scope of the final space battle and the warm celebration at the end.

Plus, a lot of us have been saying "It's a trap!" when walking into uncomfortable situations for roughly the last four decades.

Still, Episode VI ill-served some of the original trilogy's significant characters, in ways that have been debated across the decades, yielding the kind of arguments that have become one of the Star Wars franchise's most renewable resources. So in no particular order, here are some of those moments, and the "buts" that go with them:

"I know. Somehow, I've always known" 

Having Luke and Leia secretly be brother and sister neatly resolved the central love triangle, while answering Yoda's cryptic reference to "another" hope in The Empire Strikes Back.

But it's hard to accept the "I've always known" thing given Leia's let's-make-Han-jealous kiss and Luke mooning over her throughout the first movie, which feels a little creepy with the benefit of hindsight.

Luke Skywalker, pacifist Jedi Knight

Great, Luke defeats Darth Vader and doesn't turn to the dark side of the Force by sparing him. But then he foolishly tosses away his lightsaber, leaving himself at the mercy of the Emperor.

Instead of disarming himself, wouldn't it have been a whole lot more exciting (and made more sense) if he had fought the Emperor, and then, on the verge of losing, his dad stepped in, instead of just turning himself into a Force-lightning pin cushion? And that seemingly paved the way for Luke running off and hiding in the most recent trilogy.

"From a certain point of view" 

Let's stipulate that Anakin Skywalker "became" Darth Vader when he turned to the dark side. It's still hard to get around the sense Obi-Wan Kenobi's explanation sure felt like a big old lie at worst, and a major sin of omission at best, when he initially explained what happened to Luke, even if it did set up one of the most memorable reveals in movie history.

Boba Fett, comic-relief casualty

Nobody knew much about Boba Fett other than the fact that he had that way-cool armor, which made him a figure of intrigue without much to go on. But the way the bounty hunter was dispatched in Jedi's rescue sequence -- the victim of an accidental action by a blinded Han Solo -- still felt like an undignified end in the name of a cheap laugh, later requiring an elaborate explanation of how he escaped the Sarlacc Pit to revive him, birthing that Disney+ series and selling a whole bunch more toys.

The Emperor's end 

The idea that Darth Vader would sacrifice himself to save Luke from the Emperor took a little getting used to on its own, although it did establish the notion of redemption in "Star Wars" despite past bad acts. But given the extent of his powers, killing off the Emperor by simply throwing him down a cavernous Death Star shaft didn't yield the thrills or satisfaction that a more genuine battle would have created.

Moreover, even if you buy that Palpatine was focused on Luke, his defensive skills definitely left something to be desired, especially after seeing his epic showdown with Yoda in Revenge of the Sith.

Granted, despite those complaints it's easy enough to enjoy Return of the Jedi in bits and pieces, and seeing the movie should be a treat for those sharing it as a theatrical experience, as Star Wars was meant to be consumed.

Still, the film will always be as notable for what it messed up as what achieved.

At least, that's how it looks from a certain point of view.