Since being announced this morning, the title of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens has gotten a bit of a mixed response. Some fans are intrigued by the puzzle that the name presents, while others are rejecting it on the basis of not understanding how The Force could be asleep. It’s sure to cause a number of debates between now and December 2015 when the film is released, but only at that point will the meaning of the name actually be revealed, and (hopefully) fully understood.
In light of this big news, we’ve taken a look back at the history of Star Wars feature film subtitles and ranked them from worst to best. Will your favorite be declared king? Read on to find out!
6. Attack of the ClonesWhile the title does have significance to Star Wars die-hards who recognize the history of the Clone Wars within the history of the saga, Star Wars Episode II’s subtitle Attack of the Clones is incredibly weak otherwise. While it’s surely meant to sound action-heavy, it’s undercut by the mention of clones, which suggests a certain level of monotony. Plus, it at least kind of spoils the third act of the movie, no?
5. The Phantom MenaceThere are two ways to look at the title of The Phantom Menace. The good way is to see it as a reference to the darkness within Anakin Skywalker and how that darkness would eventually affect the galaxy. The bad way to see it is as an allusion to the barely-present Darth Sidious, which in turn reminds audiences of the boring space politics junk jammed into Episode I. Split the difference and you have what isn’t the worst Star Wars title, but isn’t the best one, either.
4. A New HopeStar Wars Episode IV is a bit of an odd case seeing as though it didn’t actually get its subtitle until 1981 – but that fact both kind of helps it and hurts it. A New Hope is certainly fitting, given that the film is the start of a young hero’s journey to save the galaxy, but given the extra amount of time to create the second name, why not go with something a little splashier? All, the same, it’s a nice classical title for a classic movie.
3. Revenge of the SithAs the finale of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith had an opportunity to mirror the finale of the original trilogy, and George Lucas took full advantage successfully. The subtitle is an excellent antithesis of Return of the Jedi, and works to set up the rise of the evil Emperor Palpatine and the fall of the heroic Jedi. The film itself is certainly divisive among Star Wars fans, but it’s hard to deny that it has one of the best titles.
2. Return of the JediBefore Luke Skywalker started his path towards fulfilling his destiny, the Jedi had been decimated – and while movie-goers in 1983 had only seen a few Knights portrayed on screen up to that point, it didn’t undermine what the order’s return meant. After the crushing defeats seen in the fifth chapter of the Star Wars saga, audiences are ready to see the rise of heroes, and that’s exactly what the Return of the Jedi subtitle promises.
1. The Empire Strikes BackLooking back on The Empire Strikes Back - specifically its tone and where it leaves its characters at the end of its story – the name of the film is utterly appropriate. The rebels struck a blow against the Empire when they blew up the Death Star, and now the Empire is striking back by destroying rebel outposts, cutting off hands, revealing hard truths and freezing heroes. The subtitled of Star Wars Episode V is practically a threat, and it’s a rather epic and perfect one.