A long time ago (childhood), in a galaxy far, far away (Cleveland), a young girl somehow missed out on watching any of the Star Wars films. Spoiler: That sad, deprived girl was me. I know. It’s all the more shocking when you consider that George Lucas’s daughter has the exact same name as I do. By the transitive property, I am a Star Wars princess, and yet my celestial cherry remained unpopped.
A few weeks ago, in honor of the franchise’s triumphant return, I decided it was finally time. There was only one place to start: the beginning. Not the narrative beginning—I’ve been warned of the Jar Jar Binks(es?) lurking in the prequels—but with the first-released film, Episode IV: A New Hope.
Being a human that grew up in America, I had some baseline of knowledge going into my screening. I knew the force was strong, Yoda was wise, Darth Vader was Luke’s (and so Leia’s) dad, and Luke and Leia had some sort of Josh-and-Cher romance happening. Basically everything else was a big old surprise. (Basic Fandom Disclaimer: Keep in mind that I’ve only watched the first film so the musings below are likely wildly obvious and/or short-sighted. I blame all the stars in my eyes.)
Below you’ll find a list of the elements I found most forceful (Editor’s Note: Oof.) for a Star Wars first-timer.
1. Darth Vader is Mufasa.
From all the clips and parodies I’ve seen of Darth Vader breathing heavily through his mask, I assumed he was some sort of asthmatic Robocop. I didn’t realize that he was James Earl Jones, a.k.a. The Lion King’s Mufasa, a.k.a. the animated lion who informed all noble ideals of my youth. I was just waiting for Vader to call attention to “everything the light touches.”
In other words, this casting toyed with my sympathy. How could I hate the reincarnation of the king that defined the circle of life? (I’m still fighting the PTSD from that wildebeest scene.) The first flicker of Vader’s commanding baritone raised my spirits like a young Simba over Pride Rock. Which probably wasn’t George Lucas’s intention.
2. Obi-Wan Kenobi = amazing couples counselor.
I couldn’t help but note that much of Obi-Wan’s Jedi-related platitudes doubled as amazing dating advice. “There are alternatives to fighting”; “Stretch out with your feelings”; and “You must do what you feel is right” are just good sense for any happy couple. Finally there’s this line: “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck,” which evokes Cal in Titanic, who, while not a romantic, did leave Rose to find her best match…and made if off the ship alive. All said and done, it seems like Luke—whiney and unattractive Luke—could have benefited from the cool, calculated advice of this sage, old dude. RIP Obi-Wan.
3. Chewbacca has a roar of champions.
The SW galaxy has a proliferation of non-human species dispersed among humans—which was excellent—and it even seemed like they got their own bar, which sits alongside Jurassic Park at the top of my fictional vacay list. Appropriately, A New Hope’s best non-human is also the film’s unsung hero: Chewie.
I knew of Chewbacca before watching the films and always wondered exactly what sort of creature he was. Giant dog? Bear? Astonishingly hirsute man? The film did nothing to clear up that mystery for me. It did, however, show Chewie giving a victorious roar when he received his medal at the end, which was everything I never knew I wanted.
4. Leia is the HBIC.
I was originally worried that Leia would be the traditional damsel in distress—and I was never happier to be wrong. She put Han Solo in his place and leaned in to lead the crew to escape the giant trash compactor—all with picture perfect makeup. Seriously, that makeup was on point all throughout her kidnapping and torture.
Plus, the movie was refreshingly free of sibling flirting! I wasn’t even mad that it fails the Bechdel Test. In my book it’s: Feminism, 1; Incest, 0.
5. The flamboyant robot steals the show.
Having attended New York Comic-Con, I’ve seen C-3POs galore IRL. Imagine my delight when I learned this golden robot had the personality of a fey British dude. His homoerotic obsession with R2D2 was absolutely precious. Leave it to a ’70s sci-fi flick to tell a non-traditional love story. Swoon!
Having thoroughly enjoyed A New Hope, here are my predictions for The Empire Strikes Back:
Princess Leia unrolls her pigtail sockbuns, unleashing curls so bouncy that Han’s brain explodes. Later she defeats her dad Darth Vader for good, is named Queen of the Galaxy and appoints Chewie as her Hand. This all seems related.
One word: EWOKS! I know these little guys exist, as my older brother had this SWEET toy tree (below). My guess is that Darth tries to land on the Ewoks’ planet and they adopt him, Swiss Family Robinson-style. He loses his edge, apologizes to his estranged children for being a deadbeat dad and hangs up his lightsaber for good.
Is Obi-wan alive? He’s definitely alive.
More secret messages stored inside R2D2! He’s the cutest little mailbox!