Who’s ready to take a little dive into Star Wars history? Now, if you’re new to this universe, you probably have a ton of questions. I’m here to answer one of the simpler ones. If you’ve been wondering why the first Star Wars movie, which isn’t the actual first episode of the Skywalkers’ story, is called A New Hope, then follow me down the rabbit hole.
First released in 1977, the film that introduced audiences to the galaxy far, far away created by George Lucas was originally called Star Wars. An episode number wasn’t in the title. There wasn’t a subtitle. It was Star Wars, plain and simple.
But when its sequel was released in 1980, instead of Star Wars 2 flashing across the screen, fans were treated to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, completely upending the idea that Luke Skywalker’s journey to becoming a Jedi was the beginning of the story.
No, in actuality, it was the middle. When Star Wars was re-released in 1981 by 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm, it bore a new title: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, a change that cemented the movie’s placement in the larger universe Lucas was building and ushered in more speculation on what came before in the Star Wars universe.
The meaning of A New Hope
The possibility of “a new hope” or even a renewed hope is, in some cases, contingent on hope being lost and then found again. In Star Wars’ first outing that hope is Luke Skywalker.
According to Screen Rant, “A New Hope is all about Luke embarking on the hero’s journey and embracing his destiny, becoming the galaxy’s new hope.”
In the context of the prequel trilogy, this becomes even more clear as Anakin Skywalker, Luke’s father, was previously considered to be the chosen one to destroy the Sith. He, however, failed to resist the powerful call of the Dark Side and became the infamous Darth Vader.
Bearing that in mind, A New Hope symbolizes many themes within the Star Wars universe from the light of goodness never truly dimming or losing out to the dark, to a new generation stepping in to correct the mistakes made by those that came before.
Perhaps that is why Star Wars is a tale that never gets old.