Star Wars has long been a fan favorite within the sci-fi community, even as the theatrical cuts of the original trilogy from the late 1970s and early 1980s have for years been made unavailable by series creator and former franchise owner George Lucas. But since Lucas sold the rights to his groundbreaking blockbuster franchise (and subsidiary production studio Lucasfilm) to the Walt Disney Company in 2012, a new hope is on the horizon for the eventual return to form for Episode IV, V, and VI.
The original version of the first Star Wars trilogy has remained largely unseen since the first special edition, theatrical re-release from Lucas in 1997. With many millennial fans of the franchise largely unfamiliar with the initial theatrical cuts of the films in question, it has fallen to parents, teachers, and mentors to cite all of the changes since made to Lucas' galaxy far, far away - a heady task that was recently undertaken and published online.
In a series of videos compiled by Youtuber Marcelo Zuniga, all of the most noteworthy changes that have been made between the release of the original films and their later editions are compared side-by-side. Focusing specifically on the most recent Blu-Ray edition from 2011, Zuniga's visual comparison series (shown above and below) is a stunning example of fanboy devotion, and stands as irrefutable proof that Han, indeed, shot first.
Zuniga's cross-section of Star Wars history provides a much needed service to young Padawans and fledgling Jedi knights the galaxy over, and should hopefully encourage more vociferous calls for the release of remastered editions of the original films from the Walt Disney Company. In watching the original footage alongside the latest amended editions of some of the most classic scenes and sequences of the franchise, its easy to see why Lucas has become such a controversial figure within his own established sci-fi universe.
The next entry in the Star Wars canon, J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, should bring longtime viewers of the original trilogy some much needed closure, as The Force Awakens appears to have more in common with the films of the 1970s and 1980s than Lucas' prequel trilogy of the 2000s. Having recently revealed the roles of its two featured Sith Lords, in addition to unveiling some crucial behind the scenes footage at the San Diego Comic Con this past month, Episode VII looks like it could be on track to reestablish the glory of the franchise.
Until Disney finally releases the original Star Wars films in all of their late 20th century glory, just remember that Han shot first, and may the force be with you.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars anthology film on May 25, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX has not received an official release date.