10 things 'Star Wars' to know if you've never seen the movies
So you want to see the biggest movie of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in theaters Dec. 18), but you somehow managed to go your whole life without watching any other Star Wars movies? Well, come out from under your rock, because we’re here to share 10 extremely basic things you need to know about the Star Wars universe before going to the theater this Christmas. Read on so you can blend in as well as Luke Skywalker’s prosthetic hand (we’ll get to that):
1. There are three ‘original’ movies which came out before the three ‘prequel’ movies. People tend to think the former are better. The first Star Wars (later subtitled A New Hope) made its debut in 1977. Two sequels followed: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Those three movies, which followed protagonists Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), are also referred to as Episodes IV, V and VI, respectively.Then, there was a 16-year gap before the next Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace (1999), the first of three prequels.Two more films (both depicting events before A New Hope) followed: Attack of the Clones (2002) andRevenge of the Sith (2005). The prequels are Episodes I, II and III, and they focus on Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd and then Hayden Christensen), Padme Amadala (Natalie Portman), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, who’s also in the original films played by Alec Guinness) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).The originals are generally held in a higher regard than the prequels by the fans, partially because of the prequels’ denser plots, heavy CGI and fewer practical effects. Chronologically, The Force Awakens is Episode VII, and is set about 30 years after Return of the Jedi.
2. Luke and Leia, in the original films, are the children of Padme and Anakin, from the prequels. This makes for awkwardness.Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), right, is comforted by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in ‘Star Wars.’ (Photo: 20th Century Fox. Leia, who’s a princess when we meet her in A New Hope, is related to Luke, who works on a farm with his aunt and uncle at the start of the movie. The characters don’t find out until Return of the Jedi that they are actually long-lost twins who were adopted by different families.This is a very surprising revelation, considering Luke crushed on Leia when he first saw her, and Leia planted a kiss on Luke’s lips in The Empire Strikes Back (though it was mostly to make Han Solo jealous). Their parents are Padme, a queen and senator who died (of something like a broken heart) after giving birth to them, and Anakin, who abandoned them, because he turned to the Dark Side. More on that …
3. Anakin becomes Darth Vader. These are the basics, people. Darth Vader is the bad guy in the original movies — the killer in the black mask who breathes loudly. He used to look like the blond-haired Christensen and was a Jedi, which is a good knight who uses the metaphysical power of the Force to guard justice in the galaxy, but eventually he turned to the Dark Side. Before doing that, Anakin married and had babies with Padme, whom he met when he was only a child in The Phantom Menace. (Don’t worry: They didn’t fall in love until he was legal.)In the original movies, the full-on baddie Darth Vader eventually tells Luke, in a battle in Empire Strikes Back, that he is Luke’s father. (If you know one thing, you probably know this.) In the same fight, Luke’s right hand gets chopped off by a lightsaber (those laser swords).Eventually, Luke gets a fantastic prosthetic hand and has a rematch with Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, where Vader redeems himself by saving Luke from the even more evil Emperor, and then dies shortly after.
4. There’s a debate about whether ‘Han Solo shot first.’ Han, a smuggler-turned-good guy worthy of Leia’s affections in the original films, is introduced about halfway through A New Hope in a cantina. While in the cantina, he’s approached by a bounty hunter called Greedo and the two have a confrontation. In the 1977 theatrical version of Star Wars, Han fires before Greedo gets the chance to shoot at Han.In later versions of the movie, the scene is changed to show the two shooting at the same time, or Greedo firing a split-second before Han. This edited scene has spurred much debate among Star Wars fans, because many think that it’s important for Han to have shot first, in order for his character arc (going from not-so-nice guy to hero) to be better. Creator George Lucas disagrees.
5. Droids R2-D2 and C-3PO are BFFs. R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), aka “Artoo-Detoo,” is a spunky and loyal little robot who fights, decodes, fixes and makes adorable sounds. His counterpart C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), also written as See-Threepio, is a humanlike protocol droid fluent in many languages. He often worries about (and pokes fun at) Artoo, in his fancy butler-like voice. Both droids are in all of the live-action Star Wars movies.One more thing: When people say the line “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” they are quoting Obi-Wan in the first Star Wars, who, via Force, convinces Stormtroopers (bad guys in white helmets) not to take R2-D2 and C-3PO.
6. Chewbacca and Han Solo are BFFs.
Han owns the Millennium Falcon ship, which he flies with co-pilot Chewbacca, nicknamed “Chewie.” Chewie is a 7-foot-tall Wookiee, a hairy, bipedal mammal who speaks in growls. The two encounter Luke and Obi-Wan, a Jedi master, in a cantina in A New Hope (the same one Han shot Greedo in), and go on to join them, and later Leia, in Rebel attacks against the evil Empire. (As we’ve seen in the Force Awakens teasers, Han and Chewie are still buddies.)
7. Leia loves Han. He knows. After being too shy to admit their love for one another, Leia does eventually tell the “scoundrel” (as she calls him) Han that she loves him, before he gets frozen in carbonite inEmpire Strikes Back. His memorable response? “I know.” Leia gets to say the “I know” line back to Han in Return of the Jedi.
8. Jar Jar Binks: Not a fan favorite. OK, now back to the prequel films: We encounter the good-hearted, amphibious Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan, in The Phantom Menace. People actively dislike this guy. Though apparently meant to be a funny sidekick, Jar Jar Binks is more often perceived as the worst character of the franchise, whose clumsiness gets him and his crew (Padme and Jedis Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn) into trouble. Jar Jar is naive, sounds Jamaican, has a unique dialect (saying “Meesa” instead of “I”) and is the subject of conspiracy theories. Fans saw less of the CGI character in subsequent films.
9. When people purposefully sound dyslexic, they are likely quoting Yoda. Have you heard people say things like, “Patience you must have, my young Padawan,” or “Powerful you have become”? Those are Yoda quotes. (By the way, “Padawan” basically means a Jedi-in-training.) The wise Yoda, though elderly and small, is one of the most powerful Jedi masters in the universe. He appears in both prequel and original Star Wars films (he’s hundreds of years old), most notably teaching Luke, the franchise hero, how to harness the Force.
10. ‘May the Force be with you.’ This is a Star Wars phrase often used as a way to say “goodbye and good luck.” On fan holiday Star Wars Day, which takes place on May 4, Jedi faithful say “May the 4th be with you.” Get it?