By virtue of having been completed over three decades ago, the original Star Wars trilogy has become a fond childhood memory for several generations of people. If you grew up at any time between the 1980s and the 2000s, there’s a good chance that you saw Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia fighting to save the galaxy at a very impressionable age.
But what if you missed the Star Wars boat as a child? What if you got all the way through school – all the way through university, in fact – without ever hearing Han Solo telling Chewbacca to “punch it” or seeing a Star Destroyer loom into view? What if your first contact with the Star Wars universe was 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace?
I first watched A New Hope at the age of 23, while applying for a job as a news writer for another film website. The application process was mainly comprised of answering questions about Star Wars and Star Trek (“Who is your favorite Star Wars character, and why?” “Which is your favorite Star Trek movie, and why?“), which probably should have been the first indication that I was not going to get the job. I watched The Empire Strikes Back for the first time on a whim earlier this year, and found it pretty entertaining, though not exactly life-changing.
While it might be fun to feign total ignorance about Star Wars, the franchise has had such a profound effect on pop culture that it’s virtually impossible to grow up without knowing who Darth Vader is, or without seeing pictures of Princess Leia in that gold bikini. I first encountered Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death scene not in its original form, but as one of J.D.’s daydream fantasies on Scrubs. Between Internet memes and constant references in other media, there’s a background radiation of Star Wars that can be soaked up without ever actually watching the films.
With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens this week, however, it seemed like the right time to finally finish watching the original Star Wars trilogy and get caught up on the most recent happenings in that galaxy far, far away. Given my lack of intimate familiarity with the Star Wars universe and fandom, I enlisted the help of a friend to provide answers to important questions such as, “What is that thing?“, “Who is that?” and “What is going on?”
It didn’t manage to turn me into a hardcore Star Wars fan, but Return of the Jedi might actually be my favorite of the original trilogy – if only because the ewoks are so adorable. My only regret is that I now have to try and forget about the existence of jizz-wailers.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens releases in theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.