Two StarWars.com writers make their picks for the best Star Wars movie to ignite a new fan's love of the saga.
One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers take a stand on which film makes the best introduction for a newcomer to the franchise.
Star Wars: A New Hope is the perfect introduction, says Carlos.
No one would ever describe me as a traditionalist. In fact, I like to think that I’ve lived my life and built my career taking risks and, at many junctions, walking the road less traveled. However, when it comes to Star Wars -- and that now more than 20-year-old question of how you introduce someone to the franchise -- I preach a very orthodox message.
Over its 45-year existence, Star Wars has rightly and appropriately evolved with the times. Today, our protagonists -- human, alien, and droid alike -- come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. That galaxy far, far away is now filled with countless stories of bravery, family, adventure, loyalty, treachery, and, of course, rebellion against tyranny. There are so many potential entry points into the franchise that it can be daunting for the uninitiated. That’s why I think it best to keep it simple. The inaugural step in anyone’s Star Wars journey should be akin to how the world was first introduced to the Force back in 1977, with A New Hope (originally just called Star Wars).
At its core, Star Wars is an uncomplicated and timeless tale -- one that has been told and retold across time and space: the classic hero’s journey from childhood to adulthood (via saving the galaxy from scum and villainy). Like the commercial for the original trilogy that played on many a VHS tape in the late 1980s used to proudly proclaim: Star Wars is “the story of a boy, a girl, and a galaxy.” Everything the Star Wars saga is began with A New Hope.
There’s something wonderfully comforting and infinitely enjoyable about turning off the lights and turning on A New Hope. You do not need to know anything about Star Wars to enjoy it. The original adventure of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and company has a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end. The film is a self-contained story that perfectly exists either all on its own or in harmony with the ever evolving tapestry of stories that's followed. Virtually every major emotional beat of all the later films and stories -- no matter where they take place chronologically -- are made better if you're aware of the dynamics, events, and relationships established in A New Hope. Your enjoyment of the original Star Wars film won’t be limited if you don't know how the Death Star plans were obtained. However, the emotional climax of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, not to mention everything to do with both Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader in that film, are elements that are dramatically heightened if you know what happens in A New Hope. This is also true of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and both the prequel and sequel trilogies. The saga begins with A New Hope; it is the perfect and most accessible introduction to the franchise.
There’s a whole galaxy out there to explore, but every journey has to have a first step. Start small and focused with A New Hope, and then gleefully work your way outward (in any direction you wish).
Your journey begins with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, says Megan.
It’s nearly impossible not to recommend the original trilogy, and Carlos makes a good argument. But I believe The Force Awakens makes the perfect entry point.
The Force Awakens retreads some of the themes and visuals from the original trilogy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for first-timers who may be turned off by 1977's styling. The Force Awakens is a good fit for folks who prefer more contemporary filmmaking, with today’s animation and digital film giving classic visuals a new shine. It’s hard to beat the thrill of seeing Poe Dameron’s X-wing squadron drop in over the lake.
Episode VII also provides some fun synergy between the viewers and the characters. Like the first-time viewer, Rey, Finn and Poe only vaguely know what “the Force” is themselves. They’ll have a similar level of knowledge to the newcomers, who may have heard other people talk about Luke Skywalker in hushed tones but never really understood what he was all about except as a semi-mythic character from decades ago.
The cast really shines, too. Oscar Isaac is known for bleeding charisma on screen now, but The Force Awakens was his big breakout role. John Boyega as Finn brings a lot of heart, too, and they’re the kind of duo you could watch just talking to one another forever. Finn’s initial decision to defect from the stormtrooper corps shows Star Wars’ strong themes of redemption right off the bat.
At the center of it is Rey, the Jedi-to-be whose openness, determination and sense of wonder make her a classic underdog for the modern world.
Then there’s Kylo Ren. The internet’s favorite bad boy went through a period of wild popularity through the sequel trilogy’s run. But, taken on his own as a frightening, unpredictable villain, Kylo Ren is one of the standout elements that makes the newest trilogy work so well. His character is a commentary on how the previous generation affected the next one.
But remember, the best place to start with Star Wars is simply the place that most interests you.
What do you think? Do you agree with Megan or Carlos? Or is there another film that gets your vote? Let us know on social using #FromACertainPOV!