Is Star Wars one of your pop culture blindspots? Or are you just too busy and popular to embark on a full series rewatch? Your reason for needing it is beside the point. I’ve racked my own nerd brain to put together a quick and dirty Star Wars recap, er, cram session to catch you up on the franchise’s mythology and characters before The Force Awakens opens in theaters on Dec 18.
Granted, the Star Wars canon extends far beyond Episodes 1 through 6. There are video games, cartoon series and features, and dozens of novelizations, just to name a few other pieces of media where Star Wars lives on. But with less than a month toward the release of Episode 7, I’m concerned mostly with the events of the live-action feature films. Starting with the prequels, this recap touches on the most significant developments of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge Of The Sith, A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of The Jedi. The Force Awakens is unlikely to be so dense with references that it alienates fans who aren’t studied up on their Star Wars lore, but do you really want to risk it? Read on and brush up on what’s happened in the cinematic Star Wars universe so far.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn & Apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi Rescue Queen Padme Amidala Of Naboo From A Battle
Conflict is heating up and the Federation is flexing its muscles.
They Meet A Nine-Year-Old Tatooine Kid Who Can Move Things With His Mind
This is Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy with great potential to control the Force.
The Jedi Council Warn That Anakin Has A Weak Spot For The Dark Side
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan want to train young Anakin, but something about the child makes the council wary. (Your ninth grade English teacher calls this "foreshadowing.") Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul, but Obi-Wan takes Anakin on as a pupil anyway.
Anakin & Padme Fall In Love
Everyone will soon wish that this had never happened. Oh, and Anakin is no longer nine.
Obi-Wan Accidentally Trips Over A Republic Clone Army
Bounty hunter Jango Fett is the DNA donor to the Republic's clone army, a Palpatine-approved military operation that Obi-Wan discovers in process. And thus, the origin of fan favorite bad guy: Boba Fett.
Anakin's Mother Dies & He Flips Out
A group of Tusken Raiders captures and tortures Anakin's mother, who he left behind on Tatooine to become a Jedi knight. She dies; he kills everything. Hello, Dark Side.
Yoda Saves The Day
Even Count Dooku the Sith is no match for this pint-sized Jedi warrior. The prequels had their shortcomings, but watching Yoda wield a lightsaber and force men three times his size to retreat was not one of them.
Anakin & Palpatine Start Bro-ing Out
Senator Palpatine starts to seduce Anakin further into the Dark Side by proclaiming his right to know of both spheres of the Force. Being that Palpatine is also Darth Sidious, these pep talks are not in Anakin's or the Republic's best interest.
The Clone Troops Turn On Their Masters & Anakin Turns On The Jedi
Palpatine's plan for the Jango clones becomes clear when they're compelled to take aim against their Jedi commanders. Anakin is dispatched to dispatch the remaining knights in the Jedi temple, including the younglings in training.
Padme Dies At Anakin's Hand
Anakin is far beyond help when Padme tries to reach him, so he turns on her too. She dies from her injuries, but not before giving birth to twins: Luke and Leia. Obi-Wan and Anakin-now-Vader have it out; Vader is badly burned, condemning him to spend the rest of his life in the mask that enables him to breathe and gives him the voice of James Earl Jones.
Princess Leia Is A Badass Spy
Princess Leia of Alderaan is an important figure in the Rebel Alliance. She encloses the plans for the Empire's new and seemingly impenetrable space station in an R2 unit and sends it off to Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Luke & Obi-Wan Hire The Milennium Falcon
Obi-Wan is laying low on Tatooine, keeping distant watch on farm boy Luke Skywalker. He tells Luke that he knew his father and that his father was a Jedi knight. Luke agrees to help Obi-Wan complete the mission for Leia and the rebels. They contract an arrogant space smuggler and his Wookiee pal to be their transport.
The Empire Obliterates Alderaan & Vader Kills Obi-Wan
To show the Empire's power, the Death Star destroys Leia's home planet. Vader and Obi-Wan battle; Obi-Wan allows Vader to strike him down, because he knows he will only be more powerful in death
Luke Uses The Force To Hit The Death Only Weak Spot
The Rebel Alliance launches its attack on the Death Star. Luke makes the kill shot and becomes everyone's hero.
The Empire Finds The Rebel Base On Hoth
After their win with the Death Star, the rebels regroup on Hoth. But they can't hide from the Empire forever.
Luke Studies Under Jedi Master Yoda
With Obi-Wan in the wind, Luke travels to the Dagobah system to study under one cryptic yet effective little muppet.
Han & Leia Seek Help From Lando Calrissian, Who Sells Them Out
Han and Leia and their entourage fly to Cloud City to visit an old gambling buddy of Han's. Lando turns the group over to the Empire for money and protection and immediately regrets it.
Han Is Frozen In Carbonite & Handed Over To Boba Fett
Han still has a price on his head, and Boba the bounty hunter is down to collect. Also, Han and Leia are totally a thing.
Luke & Vader Battle. Luke Loses A Hand, But Gains A Dad
Finally, Luke comes face to mask with Vader. Instead of avenging Obi-Wan, Luke gets some information he has some trouble processing: Vader is that Jedi father he's been hearing so much about.
The Squad Rescues Han Solo From Jabba The Hutt's Den
The Rebel Alliance never leaves a man behind, so a full-scale rescue mission wrenches Han out of the space gangster's slimy clutches.
Leia Is Luke's Sister & Let's Forget That Empire Kiss Never Happened
Ghost Obi-Wan confirms that Leia is Luke's long-lost twin sister, and that they were separated for their own safety right after their birth.
The Ewoks Help The Rebels Destroy The New Death Star In Progress & Divide The Star Wars Fan Base
Love 'em or hate 'em, the Ewoks contributed a lot to the Rebellion. And they're cute!
Vader Tries To Turn Luke To The Dark Side & Luke Is Like "Nah"
Luke's dad has a strange sense of paternal obligation, and wants Luke to rule the galaxy alongside him. Luke is having none of it though, and shows integrity light years behind any Anakin ever had.
Vader Kills Emperor Palpatine To Save Luke But Is Mortally Wounded In The Process
Too little too late, but Anakin is redeemed in the end. The Empire is defeated.
Ewok Dance Party!
Those little guys know how to celebrate a win.
There you go: 38 years of Star Wars history in a nutshell.
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