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13 very basic ‘Star Wars’ things to know if you’ve never seen the films

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Before you head out to see the new movie, here’s a recap of where the saga left off with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’
USA TODAY

So you’ve heard that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is coming out this week, but you somehow managed to go your whole life without watching any Star Wars movies? We can’t explain the entire saga to you in 2,000 words, but these extremely basic Star Wars details will help you sound less clueless of the ways of the Force:

1. There are three “original” movies which came out before the three “prequel” movies. Rogue One takes place between them. The other new movies take place after them.

C-3PO, R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca were a winning team in the first film of the franchise, ‘Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.’ (Photo: Lucasfilm)

The first Star Wars (later subtitled A New Hope) made its debut in 1977. Two sequels followed: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Those three movies, which followed protagonists Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), are also referred to as Episodes IV, V and VI, respectively.

Then there was a 16-year gap before the next Star Wars film, The Phantom Menace (1999), the first of three prequels. Two more films (both depicting events before A New Hope) followed: Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005). The prequels are Episodes I, II and III, and they focus on Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd and then Hayden Christensen), Padmé Amadala (Natalie Portman), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, who’s also in the original films played by Alec Guinness) and Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).

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K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) is the giant, sarcastic droid star of Rogue One. BB-8 is a clever droid that makes his first appearance in The Force Awakens and looks like a beach ball, while also being treated like man’s (specifically Poe’s) best friend. 

One more thing: When people say the line “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” they are quoting Obi-Wan in the first Star Wars, who, via Force, convinces Stormtroopers (bad guys in white helmets) not to take R2-D2 and C-3PO.

8. Chewbacca and Han Solo are BFFs. 

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) are still best pals in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’ (Photo: Lucasfilm)

Han flies his Falcon with co-pilot Chewbacca, nicknamed “Chewie.” Chewie is a 7-foot-tall Wookiee, a hairy, bipedal mammal who speaks in growls. The two encounter Luke and Obi-Wan, a Jedi master, in a cantina in A New Hope (the same one Han shot Greedo in), and go on to join them, and later Leia, in Rebel attacks against the evil Empire.

In The Force Awakens, Han is shot and killed by his son. Chewie appears in the new movie The Last Jedi alongside Rey.

9. Leia loves Han. He knows.

After being too shy to admit their love for one another, Leia does eventually tell the “scoundrel” (as she calls him) Han that she loves him, before he gets frozen in carbonite in Empire Strikes Back. His memorable response? “I know.” Leia gets to say the “I know” line back to Han in Return of the Jedi.

10. Han and Leia had a child: Kylo Ren. Not a nice guy.

Kylo Ren has his lightsaber ready against Finn and Rey in ‘The Force Awakens.’ (Photo: Lucasfilm)

In the time between Episode VI and Episode VII, Han and Leia had a child, Kylo Ren (Driver). Kylo is a big fan of his maternal grandfather, Darth Vader, and wants to finish what Vader started. Unlike his mom and uncle (Luke, who tried to give him Jedi training), Kylo has embraced the dark side of the Force, and winds up killing his father. Note: Children watching their parents die is a theme in Star Wars.

11. Jar Jar Binks: Not a fan favorite.

OK, now back to the prequel films: We encounter the good-hearted, amphibious Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan, in The Phantom Menace. People actively dislike this guy. Though apparently meant to be a funny sidekick, Jar Jar is more often perceived as the worst character of the franchise, whose clumsiness gets him and his crew (Padmé and Jedis Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn) into trouble. Jar Jar is naive, sounds Jamaican, has a unique dialect (saying “Meesa” instead of “I”) and is the subject of conspiracy theories. Fans saw less of the CGI character in subsequent films.

12. When people purposefully sound dyslexic, they are likely quoting Yoda.

Have you heard people say things like, “Patience you must have, my young Padawan,” or “Powerful you have become”? Those are Yoda quotes. (By the way, “Padawan” basically means a Jedi-in-training.) The wise Yoda, though elderly and small, is one of the most powerful Jedi masters in the universe. He appears in both prequel and original Star Wars films (he’s hundreds of years old), most notably teaching Luke, the franchise hero, how to harness the Force.

13. ‘May the Force be with you.’

This is a Star Wars phrase often used as a way to say “goodbye and good luck.” On fan holiday Star Wars Day, which takes place on May 4, Jedi faithful say “May the 4th be with you.” Get it?

Review: Stellar ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ throws a few twists into the space opera

More: What you need to know about ‘The Last Jedi’ and the franchise’s future

Also: The definitive ranking of all 9 ‘Star Wars’ movies, including ‘The Last Jedi’

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