It’s happening. It’s really happening. A new Star Wars film is being made and 88 seconds of it is premiering in a select theater near you. As North America and all parts beyond await their first glimpse into one of the biggest films of next in the theater or online, Star Wars trailers are nothing to be taken lightly, nor have they ever been.
The series has been selling hype for a lot longer than some of us have been alive and this weekend may mean no differently in the yes of the Internet. For better or worse, Grievous or Gungan, take a look back at just how long Star Wars has been exciting fans across screens big and small.
The Story of a Boy, a Girl, and a Universe
In 1977, the man who had up to that point brought you American Grafiti brought you an adventure “unlike anything on this planet.” That little joyride just happened to be Star Wars, a little-known sci-fi film yet to have a roman numeral attached to it or be read as A New Hope. And it relied on nothing short of spectacle to sell its crazy collection of laser swords and spaceships. A movie already claiming bragging rights on being ahead of its time, it’t not hard to think it was compared to the flimsy wire-work of films like 1978’s Superman The Movie. Even Alderaan still looked real enough to be blown up. Stupid Imperials.
The original trailer you see above and others like it seem to have held nothing back in the way of hyperbole – and it more than paid off in the long run. For the 70s movie goer, Star Wars was meant to be a “sprawling space saga of rebellion and romance” our friendly narrator man tells us. Moreover, it was apparently one “a million years in the making.” We’re even told that Star Wars could be happening right now somewhere in space despite being “a long time ago.” How’s that, again? Silly narrator man.
Their Story Didn’t End There!
Star Wars certainly didn’t end in 1977 as $725 million later and worldwide fandom would tell you, or quite possibly unlikely narrator Harrison Ford. The continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia would lay the groundwork for what would eventually be the most iconic Star Wars film to date despite fans’ divisive reception of The Empire Strikes Back back in the day. Regarded as too long, too dark, and too unresolved, Empire wasn’t as much a gem for 80’s crowds as 2014’s kids, it seems. Each generation usually agrees that Luke’s poor Tauntaun does NOT look like a cozy sleeping bag, though.
The hyperbolic gold standard was probably set by the Empire trailer’s claim of being the trek across “countless voids to unknown worlds” we always wanted. Trek? Wrong series, guys. What Harrison Ford does tell us it was was a “galactic odyssey against oppression” just in case you thought it wasn’t. And apparently “Lando Calrissian” demands as much careful pronunciation by the trailer’s narration as it still does to everyone you’ve fought with in grade school about “Lan-dough” versus “Lan-dow.”
Return to a Galaxy Far, Far Away
By 1983, the battle for Star Wars fandom had been won in so many fans’ hearts that Star Wars needn’t explain itself when it came to minor things like Luke’s infrequently blue lightsaber or chaining bikini-clad princesses to thrones in a kids’ movie. By then, the stories of our trio had developed far beyond those of the motley crew we first met them as. “The heart of a hero, the courage of a rebel, the strength of a leader” was right on the mark (Hamill) in describing how far our strapping farm boy had come in the ways of the Force and Han and Leia had since become the most classic lovers/arguers in sci-fi film history.
Return of the Jedi has all the bittersweet tone of a parting of ways with all the action it deserved. The Rebels’ triumphant victory over the Second Death Star and the forever adorable Ewoks had all come together to form what was – at the time – the most beloved of the Star Wars films for audiences, though that honor would of course pass to Empire decades later. As the trailer heralded, the circle was now complete and George Lucas’s epic trilogy had come to a close. Star Wars would be missed, but not forgotten as the screen faded to black, leaving behind a galaxy for sixteen years.
Every Saga Has a (Rough) Beginning…
Maybe it really was no shock still that Star Wars would once again return, this time for yet another trilogy that would break every technological barrier its predecessors had ever known. The worlds, the aliens, the lightsaber duels were all more realized than ever before and newcomers Natalie Portman and Jake Lloyd glanced and stared with the awkwardness that George Lucas originally intended for his saga. Liam Neeson was still a decade away from having his family Taken every other year and Ewan McGregor looked about as stoic about the whole thing as we could ever be.
“Every journey has a first step” we’re told at the beginning of what was Star Wars’s rebirth in 1999. It might’ve been fate, then, that the very first image you see of the renewed saga were CGi Gungans wandering onscreen like zombies. More than a decade later, it’s easy to admit that there were far deeper criticisms you could have for The Phantom Menace than the oafish inclusion of Jar Jar Binks. You could say something about the *yawn* tedious exposition about the trade route disputes or something or other, or why the Jedi council didn’t send thirty Jedi to kill Darth Maul rather than two. Sorry, Qui-Gon.
Attack of the Arrogant Apprentices
Three years after waching skipping slaves and pod racing, 2002’s Attack of the Clones said and did everything in its trailer that it did in its title. Clones, a lot of clones, were attacking things just like their job description, a lot of things, and it all looked rather like a Star Wars film. Pay no mind to whether or not the Jedi Knights were “keepers of the peace, not soldiers,” because the former would’ve been too boring for the film’s explosive finale.
The trailer here sums itself up rather nicely. Obi-wan and Anakin really don’t like each other (albeit far less than anything homicidal) and Obi-wan doesn’t like flying, or flying apprentices. Meanwhile, the Republic’s on a path to war and that calls for a clone army to battle its darned separatist dissidents, because talking worked so well years prior. The flashy explosions and Jedi bad-assery that follow were their best yet on the big screen and Vader’s breathy tease of Anakin’s dark future was something of a nice easter egg for fans. If only Anakin wasn’t made out to be such a creepy stalker in the meantime. Run, Padmé, run now!
The Sith Have Their Revenge
This was it. On May 19th, 2005, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith would be released worldwide as the series went out with a multi-million dollar bang – and what a bang it promised to be. Otherwise known as the only Star Wars prequel that mattered, Revenge of the Sith answered every nearly question fans had been dying to answer since Obi-wan’s fateful reference to “The Clone Wars” back in 1977. Little fans then know that that very war would be the key to the Jedi’s demise, the fall of the Republic, and Anakin’s inevitable fall to the dark side of the Force.
Its trailer does a remarkable job at telling a journey from beginning to end, taking our gung-ho heroes of Anakin and Obi-wan from friends to enemies in just two and-a-half minutes. Where other Star Wars movies were meant as fun romps, Revenge of the Sith shared something of a mirror to Empire‘s finale. Here, the villains are the ones to win and hope is nothing short of slim. Revenge of the Sith would be the one to bring the series full circle and for some reason showing just how many times even a grief-stricken Padmé can change clothes in one movie.
The Future is Now
So what will J.J. Abrams bring to the table with this Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘s 88 seconds of fame? Lightsabers? Lens flare? Benedict Cumberbatch’s Wookie impression? Time will tell, and that time is growing short. Star Wars is real again in just 24 hours. Be it 88 seconds of explosions or Harrison Ford’s smirks, something timeless is about to be born again. Something called Star Wars.
Tell us: What are your favorite Star Wars memories? What do you expect from Friday’s trailer? Share your thoughts down in the comments below. History is being made tomorrow, folks. May the Force be with us. The memes are ready and waiting, Abrams.