Have you ever wondered why the Star Wars franchise starts with Episode IV: A New Hope? It’s an interesting question, and one that has puzzled some fans for years. In this article, we’ll explore the history behind this decision.
The Original Star Wars Trilogy
When George Lucas first wrote the script for what would eventually become A New Hope, he had no intention of creating a trilogy or even a series of movies. He simply wanted to tell one epic story set in a vast and imaginative universe.
The original movie, later retitled Episode IV: A New Hope, was released in 1977 and became an instant classic. It was followed by two sequels – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) – which completed what is now known as the original Star Wars trilogy.
The Prequel Trilogy
In 1999, Lucas returned to the Star Wars universe with a new trilogy set before the events of the original movies. These prequels were released over three years – Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).
The Sequel Trilogy
After a gap of more than 30 years, Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 and announced plans to continue the Star Wars saga with a new trilogy set after Return of the Jedi. The first movie in this sequel trilogy was released in 2015 as Episode VII: The Force Awakens, followed by Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
So Why Start with Episode IV?
When A New Hope was first released, it was simply called Star Wars. It wasn’t until after the sequels were made that the original movie was retitled as Episode IV: A New Hope.
Lucas has said that he always envisioned the Star Wars saga as a larger story with multiple parts. However, when he wrote the first movie, he wasn’t sure if it would be successful enough to warrant sequels. As a result, he decided to start the story in media res – in the middle of the action – and fill in the backstory later.
By starting with Episode IV, Lucas was able to introduce audiences to a fully-formed universe with its own history and mythology. The opening crawl famously begins with the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” which immediately sets up a sense of epic scope and scale.
Additionally, by starting with A New Hope, Lucas was able to create a sense of mystery and intrigue around characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. These characters are already established when we meet them, but we don’t know their full backstories until later in the series.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it – the reason why Star Wars starts with Episode IV: A New Hope is simply because that’s where George Lucas decided to begin telling his story. While it may seem unusual to modern audiences used to franchises that are carefully planned out over multiple movies, it’s important to remember that Star Wars was originally conceived as a standalone film.
Regardless of which episode you start with, however, one thing is clear – Star Wars has become one of the most beloved and enduring franchises in cinema history.