You're probably wondering what the hoopla around Star Wars is all about. Maybe you haven't seen any of the six previous Star Wars films and are secretly dreading going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with your boyfriend. This article will help you quickly get up to speed for when you go see the movie and also give you a few fun tips to impress your Star Wars obsessed boyfriend.
In the Beginning...
Back in 1977 George Lucas created the original Star Wars (later changed to Star Wars: A New Hope). But there are now six films (soon to be 11!) and there's a debate among fans about what film to watch first. See, when Star Wars: A New Hope was released back in 1977 it was really part 4 of the series. Doing what a good writer does, Lucas started his movie in the middle of things. The first original trilogy consists of the following:
- Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) (1977)
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) (1980)
- Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) (1983)
If you really have no desire to see any of the films outside of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII) because you're being kind to your boyfriend and are humoring him, then all you need to know about the first three original films are these simple facts:
Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) (1977)
Luke Skywalker's parents died when he was young. He was raised on a dessert planted, he whines a lot, gets tangled up with an old man who teaches him the ways of a hooky religion called the Force and somehow he, the old man, two robots, a dashingly handsome smuggler named Han Solo and a creature in a walking bear-like suit, that's Chewbacca, rescue a princess on a giant moon-like space station.
Now the cool thing is that Princess Leia doesn't take any crap and she's not one to just flutter her eyelashes at the boys. Luke and Han rescue her and she grabs a gun and helps get them all out of a mess. How did Leia get captured? All you need to know is that the big bad, Darth Vader, is part of the evil Empire, wears the black armor and helmet, and that the Empire all like wearing black and dull neutral colors. Darth Vader also believes in this "Force" thing and shows off his power by nearly choking to death someone on his own side. Not a good guy.
After the good guys escape, they come back to the space station and blow it up. Princess Leia gives Luke and Han a medal and millions of Star Wars fans get pissed because Chewbacca risked his life and didn't get a medal. Talk about inequality.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) (1980)
Okay, the first one wasn't too bad now, was it? I just saved you more than 2 hours of your life in watching the first movie. But you might be wondering: What about episodes I, II and III? Don't they exist? Hang tight, trust me on this, and we'll get to them in a bit. The less said about them, the better. TRUST me.
Anyway... The Empire Strikes Back is the second Star Wars film that came out in 1980 and was another huge hit. It's often cited as the best one of the bunch (it's my favorite). So what happens in this second one which is the next movie?
We pick up with our heroes on an ice planet. They're hiding out, but Darth Vader is on a mission to catch them. And he's just pissed in this movie. He uses his Force choke move a lot, killing people on his own side and no one wants to tell him that he has bad breath (I kid about that last part, but he'd be the guy who would bite your head off if you politely handed him some chewing gum).
The bad guys find our heroes, there's a really cool snow battle with these metallic walkers that look like elephants and the good guys get away. Han, Leia and Chewbacca head off through a crazy asteroid chase and hide out for a bit. Luke heads off to a jungle planet with his trusty droid, R2D2, and goes to meet a Muppet. His old tutor, who died in the first movie, comes back to him in a vision and tells him to go get some training. So Luke does. And he really does meet a Muppet named Yoda. Tiny, green and really cool, Yoda is a master at this Force thing and trains Luke how to lift rocks with his mind.
Meanwhile, Han and Leia have some cool sexual tense-filled scenes and they finally kiss. The back and forth between the two of them is pretty awesome. He's a scoundrel and she's a princess. They're meant for each other. They get away, fly on over to a friend of Han's to get repairs on their ship, but surprise, it's a trap! Darth Vader got there first and holds them hostage. Luke senses this with his Force power (he sees visions of his friends getting hurt) and wants to go help them. The Muppet Yoda tells him to stay and finish his training and even his old teacher pops up as a ghost but still Luke says he must go.
Back in a city in the clouds, Han is frozen into a block that makes him look like a statue and is taken away by a bounty hunter and Leia is used as bait to help capture Luke. When Luke arrives, he is steered into a confrontation with Darth Vader and they battle with their laser swords (they're called lightsabers technically). After a big battle, Vader beats Luke, tries to convince him to join the bad guy side and tells him: "I am your father." This is the mind-blowing moment of the trilogy. Luke freaks out as did everyone who ever saw the movies back in the '80s. It's like learning that your dad was Hitler.
Luke barely gets away and he's messed up. He lost a hand and has seen better days. Leia and Chewbacca escape with the help of Han's friend Lando who double crossed them, but now has turned back to the good side. Everyone gets away and things end with Luke and Leia wearing these very late '70s white outfits while Lando and Chewbacca go to rescue Han Solo from the bounty hunter. If you're going to see any of the Star Wars films before The Force Awakens, this is the one to see.
Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) (1983)
Some time has passed from the last movie. The two droids are on the desert planet that Luke grew up on and they infiltrate Jabba the Hutt's palace. Jabba is a big fat slug and he's a gangster. Think of him as Marlon Brando who really let himself go. A bounty hunter arrives with a captured Chewbacca and we see poor Han Solo is being used as a trophy. He's still frozen in carbonite, looking like a marble statue. The bounty hunter who "captured" Chewie turns out to be Princess Leia in disguise but her plan falls apart and she's captured too. Unfortunately, for her, but not for your boyfriend and every sci-fi fan who likes women, Leia is put into a metal bikini because that's how Jabba rolls. Now that Friends scene with Ross and Rachel makes perfect sense.
Meanwhile Luke arrives, gets captured as well, and they're all going to be thrown into a huge sand pit with a mouth full of teeth. The good guys escape, Leia strangles Jabba with her chain, and the fight is on. Luke goes off to see Yoda one last time so he can finish his training but learns that Darth Vader really is his dad and that he must face him one last time.
Han, Leia and Chewbacca go to a forest planet to knock out a shield that protects another big space station (you might think that the bad guys would have learned from their mistake the first time, but nope). Lando (Han's friend who had double crossed him in The Empire Strikes Back) leads the attack with the rest of the good guys against the space station.
Luke comes back just in time to meet up with the rest of the gang and they all go to the forest planet together. After Leia is captured by a race of creatures that looks like teddy bears, Han and Luke find her but after a quick misunderstanding where the teddy bears want to sacrifice our heroes to their gods, Luke uses the Force to levitate one of the droids and the teddy bears let everyone go thinking that the droid is their god.
Knowing through the Force that Darth Vader is looking for him, Luke decides to turn himself over to Vader. But before heading out to do that, Luke tells Leia that Vader is his father, and wait for it, that she is his twin sister (which makes her kissing Luke back in Empire a little bit weird). Leia's all upset, Luke runs off and Han comes up thinking that Leia loves Luke. It's a big, weird love triangle and the bad guys are about to win so things are looking dark for our heroes.
Vader brings Luke to the space station to meet the wrinkly old big bad guy who has a nice and easy name to remember: The Emperor. When Luke doesn't turn to the bad guys' side, he and Vader face off with their laser swords. Vader senses with the Force that Luke is holding back and protecting his twin sister, Leia, and Luke loses it. He beats the crap out of Vader, cutting his robotic hand off (take that!), and things look really grim... until Luke tosses his laser sword away, refusing to kill his father and joining the Emperor. Not taking this lightly, the Emperor shoots lightning bolts out of his hands at Luke and things again look really bad for our heroes.
Meanwhile on the forest planet, the teddy bears, Han, Leia and Chewbacca blow up the station that projects the force field around the space station above and Lando and the rest of the rebel fleet fight the bad guy fleet in space.
Back on the space station, Luke is getting electrified and as he's dying, he turns to Darth Vader and screams, "Father, help me!" There's a few moments in which you're not sure what's going to happen and Vader lurches forward, grabs the Emperor and throws him down a shaft. Boom. Big bad guy is dead, Vader is messed up from an explosion that comes up the shaft and Luke is in awe. He grabs his father and before leaving, gets to take his helmet off. You see the scarred face of a bald, middle-aged man who tells Luke that he was right. There was still good in him. Luke gets off the space station moments before Lando blows it up while down below Leia and Han celebrate. Han turns to Leia and says that he's sure Luke wasn't on the station when it blew up and she tells him that Luke wasn't. She senses he made it out okay. She quickly follows that up with the news that Luke is her brother. Han smiles, they kiss and everyone comes together and they celebrate with the teddy bears. The end of the original trilogy.
You've been patient, really patient, and spent a good amount of time going through the original trilogy. I can't imagine that you're going to want to go through another three movies. I'll give you a break and make these easy for you. Here's a secret: Fans are conflicted over the next three Star Wars films. Lucas came back to make episodes I, II and III and we were going to finally find out how Darth Vader became a bad guy. Fans were hyped, excited, over the moon and then we got Jar Jar Binks.
Yeah, it was that bad. So without further ado, here is the super short explanations of the next three movies (which technically come before episodes IV, V and VI):
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (Episode I) (1999)
A young boy, Anakin Skywalker, (who will become Darth Vader) grows up on a desert planet. He meets some good guys and he meets a beautiful queen (Padme) who helps him. The Emperor from the Return of the Jedi is pretending to be good and does all sorts of backdoor stuff to gain power. Boring except for a really good lightsaber battle at the end.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (Episode II) (2002)
Anakin Skywalker is a teenager now. He meets the queen again, they fall in love, but good guys who use the Force aren't supposed to marry or something. Makes no sense. The big bad guy is manipulating both sides of a war. No one cares, there are lots of battles and Anakin and Padme secretly marry.
Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith (Episode III) (2005)
Padme is pregnant and Anakin dreams that she'll die in childbirth. To save her, he turns to the dark side, joining the Emperor so that he can learn a dark power to make those he loves immortal. Anakin and his best friend fight, Anakin loses and gets badly messed up and is saved only by being put in the black armor and helmet with that evil sounding respirator. Padme dies (of a broken heart) when she learns that Anakin turned evil and she gives birth to Luke and Leia. Probably the best of these three prequel films.
Now it's been 10 years since the last Star Wars movie and 22 years since Return of the Jedi. After that second space station blew up and the good guys danced with the teddy bears, we're now going to finally figure out what happened to our original heroes: Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca. Did Han and Leia get married and have kids? What's Luke up to? Who are the new generation of heroes? Why do we need Star Wars themed bottled water, Campbell's chicken noodle soup and a Han Solo frozen in carbonite dog toy? All of these questions, and more, will hopefully be answered in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
So now that you're caught up, here's a trailer to episode VII Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
Tips to Surprise Your Boyfriend
Want to blow your boyfriend's mind with your Star Wars knowledge? Here are a few one liners that will prove your Star Wars street cred:
- When your boyfriend tells you that he loves you, put your hands behind your back like they're shackled, turn to him and say: "I know."
- After a passionate romantic night, before going to bed, get all serious with him and say, "I've thought it over and have something really important to tell you." Pause for dramatic effect and then say, "Han shot first."
- The next time your boyfriend and you want to do separate things, get your most whiny Luke Skywalker voice out and say, "But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters."
- If your boyfriend doubts your abilities on something, hold up your hand and pretend you're going to choke him with your two fingers and say in your best Darth Vader voice: "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
- And when the chips are down and you both need a reminder of why either of you can succeed in life, remind each other "Do or do not. There is no try."
Now You're All Set
You now have enough Star Wars knowledge to hold your own. Remember, in the end, Star Wars is about family. Looked at through the lens of mythology, Star Wars tells the hero's story. Luke goes on a journey to find himself, beats all sorts of obstacles to rescue the princess. The themes in Star Wars are as old as stories themselves. So when your boyfriend gets all geeky with his Star Wars knowledge, remember what the story is all about. No matter how low our beginnings, we can find something greater in ourselves to rise up and become our own hero. We just need to be careful and avoid going down the path of the dark side but use our abilities to help people and do good. That's a pretty good message and, in the crazy world we live in, something we desperately need.
Hopefully, this article helped you. And although I'm a Star Wars obsessed geek, I'm also the author of the Cinderella's Secret Witch Diaries series in which you find out what really happened to Cinderella after she married the prince. Instead of seeing Luke be the hero as in Star Wars, I wanted to write a series for my daughter so that when she grows up she'll be able to read books in which a woman goes on a hero's journey to fight the bad guys and discover her true power. Interested? Download the first book in the series, Lost, for free. If you like it, pick up the other books or check out my The Witch's Coven series. Thank you and I appreciate the time you took reading this post.