In his mind, creator George Lucas saw his star’s injuries as having a natural place in the backstory to the next part of the trilogy. “I knew Mark was going to look a little different than he was in the first film,” he said on the sequel’s commentary. “But my feeling was some time had passed, they’ve been in the Rebellion fighting…so the change was justifiable.”
While Lucas’ initial claim makes sense, it seems that many fans weren’t convinced. So much so in fact that certain viewers noticed one seemingly deliberate sequence that called attention to the crash. And – nearly 40 years on from Empire’s release – the scene’s significance remains contested.