Start Today: Star Wars

In which I introduce Zack to Star Wars. I’ve known him for over half of a decade and this is my first piece on his site.

What is this?

Star Wars is a beloved (and presently ongoing) space opera that features charismatic aliens, power-wielding samurai, an evil galactic empire, and an all encompassing energy called “The Force” that ties it all together. In summation, it’s a story about the balance between good and evil. The series has become a vital and unavoidable part of popular culture. The creator of the series, George Lucas, sold the franchise to Disney, which has, thus far, proved to be the best thing to happen to the series since the original saga aired. Spinoffs such as The Clone Wars television series, comic books, and novels make up the universe’s canon (officially recognized as genuine and entries in the overarching story).

Where to start?

If you didn’t grow up watching Star Wars as a child, you’re at a disadvantage. That’s not to say that you won’t enjoy the films without a built-in nostalgia, but you’re more likely to look at the film for its filmmaking merits and story, which is fine. The Star Wars story has it all. It is more important that you stay open-minded. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered the best of the original saga, but I still suggest starting off with the movie that started it all, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977). This movie introduces you to the themes and character of the Star Wars universe better than anything else.

If you’re tech savvy, I suggest you track down the original versions of the film. The older, the better. George Lucas made a number of changes to the home releases throughout the years that add nothing, are pretty distracting, and tarnish the feeling of the original releases. I prefer watching Harmy’s Despecialized Editions. These are extraordinary fan edits that piece together original release with the highest resolution possible. The result is an unaltered Star Wars with Blu-Ray quality visuals.

Digging deeper:
You should be able to decide for yourself whether or not to continue your descent into George Lucas’ universe after watching Star Wars. As previously mentioned, The Empire Strikes Back stands as one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time and is highly recommended. Beyond that, Episode VI: Return of The Jedi ends the initial trilogy and the story continues with two television series and a prequel trilogy.

This is a timeline of the films, movies, and spinoffs recommended for a Padawan learner.

  • Star Wars (Aka Episode IV: A New Hope): Enter Luke Skywalker, our hero. Follow him and his friends on an adventure to rescue Princess Leia Organa and save the galaxy from the evil Galactic Empire and its spokesperson, Darth Vader. Han Solo, a scruffy looking smuggler co-pilots The Millennium Falcon for Jedi-in-hiding Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke, and his two droids (C-3PO and R2-D2) with help of lovable Wookie warrior Chewbacca.
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: Luke, Leia, and Han learn more about their enemy while in hiding following their first victory against the Empire. Luke begins his Jedi training with Master Yoda and confronts his deepest fears and sworn enemy, Darth Vader.
  • Episode VI: Return of The Jedi: Our heroes rescue Han from gangsterous space slug Jabba The Hutt, the rebellion goes all-in on a risky mission, and Luke faces Vader one final time.
  • Episodes I-III (The Prequels): Considered by most fans of the series as “a piece of junk,” the prequels still provide us with some backstory on our favorite baddie. Darth Vader’s origins are played out through convoluted story, bad acting, and uninteresting subplots.
  • The Clone Wars (Television Series): One of history’s best animated series and a must-watch for any fan of Star Wars. Follow Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and more through the best stories we’ll likely ever get out of the Clone Wars period. This show pushed the boundaries of children’s programming with mature ideas and conflicts. The subtext is more suitable for an adult to understand, which makes it enjoyable for all ages. Character building was the highlight, building personality into the prequels enemies, Jedi, and the clones themselves.
  • Rebels (Television Series): Disney’s spiritual follow-up to The Clone Wars. This takes place before the events of Star Wars and follows Ezra Bridger, a Padawan learner traveling with a crew of rebels and last remaining Jedi Padawan Kanan Jarrus.
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special: You can only love something when you’ve seen it at its worst. The worst is what you get with this travesty.
  • Video Games: The Star Wars series has had number of great video games over the years. X-Wing and TIE Fighter were easy favorites. The Rogue Squadron series puts you back behind the controls of Star Wars’ most recognizable ships, while the Jedi Knight games gives you a stronger hold on the ground with a lightsaber in your hand. Lego has done very well with the series, but the top three are certainly the Battlefront games (a current gen successor is coming) and Knights of the Old Republic, an RPG unlike any other.
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens and spinoff films: The series continues with J.J. Abrams upcoming installment The Force Awakens (December 2015). Our favorites from the original trilogy will reprise their roles and hand the laser-sword-like torch over to a new generation of main characters. Several spin-offs from the Franchise are in development as well. Rogue One will focus on the team that stole the plans for the Death Star that made the events of the first movie possible. Two more are currently planned for the Star Wars Anthology Series.

Jacob Tender is the in-house publicist for Other People Records and freelance writer. You can read more of his writing on Star Wars, music, and technology at Curbside.Audio. Follow him on Twitter.