With Star Wars Episode VIII mere weeks away now, the same old argument is filling Twitter feeds – not whether you sympathise with the Sith or the Jedi, but whether the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI), or prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III), was better. This seems to depend on which films you watched first. If you watched the prequels first, fond memories of the lightsaber duel on Mustafar may make you smile. However, if you watched the ’70s originals first, you might cringe at Jar Jar Binks. Well, I’d be worried if you didn’t.
But with the releases of Episodes VII, VIII, and the 2016 spin-off Rogue One, a whole new generation of fans emerged – and they will have first explored the galaxy with Rey, Finn and Jyn. For them, Luke and Leia are the aged leaders of the resistance rather than young adventurers. Their favourite droid is more likely be BB-8 rather than R2-D2 or C-3PO. Not all of these fans will be pre-teens either – being raised in a hardcore ‘Trekkie’ household, where watching Star Wars was blasphemy, The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film I experienced too.
The new ‘sequel’ trilogy of films have sparked lots of nostalgia so far, with its multiple ‘Easter eggs’ and, of course, the presence of the original trio. The heart-warming interaction between R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8 is only one example. Not having watched the previous movies, most references went straight over my head, yet some aspects felt quite familiar – Star Wars has become part of British culture, and no one can completely escape the many film posters, references, and socks – not even a ‘Trekkie’.
Thankfully, The Force Awakens contained enough new and exciting material to be able to stand on its own. Rather than falling into the trap of making the film purely for the nostalgia and long-term fans, J.J. Abrams focused the episode on the new ‘generation’ of characters, to prevent isolating new viewers. The playfulness of the original series and action-packed nature of the prequels were combined so well that The Force Awakens appealed to fans of all ages – which is probably what made it the third highest grossing film of all time.
As a newcomer to the Star Wars world, there is a lot to catch up on. Films, TV shows, books and more world lore than in Lord of the Rings. Hardcore fans are gradually getting used to the idea of new fans entering the remote galaxy, and the popularity of The Force Awakens has helped no doubt, with its old-school take on Star Wars bringing Jedis right next to the excited Padawans. I have since caught up on the first films, and still find The Force Awakens is my personal favourite. This begs the question – how much of which series is our personal favourite is based on the first one we watched rather than the content of those films? That is, of course, another argument for Twitter.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is in cinemas from 14th December. Check out the trailer below.