A New Hope Vs The Force Awakens

Written by Trevor Fonvergne

The ultimate Star Wars showdown, today we're putting Episode IV: A New Hope Vs Episode VII: The Force Awakens to discover which is the better Star Wars film! But which will take home the versus victory? Which had better Action, Better Heroes, Better Villains, Better Acting? Watch to find out!

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, these sci-fi epics duked it out. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be pitting the original installment of George Lucas’ iconic space opera against the 2015 installment to see which is strongest with the Force. We’re evaluating a wide range of categories to determine the superior film, taking specific cinematic aspects into account for each round.

Round 1: Heroes


Luke Skywalker. Princess Leia. Han Solo. These three names alone are immediately recognizable to anyone – even if they haven’t seen Star Wars. Luke is our protagonist, discovering his Force powers and becoming a vital member of the Rebel Alliance, while Leia is the Princess of the fallen planet Alderaan and Han is an outlaw who’s reluctantly brought into the Galactic Civil War. Besides the three protagonists in “A New Hope,” we’re treated to many equally memorable side characters, such as the lovable Wookiee Chewbacca, quirky robots R2-D2 and C-3PO, and the legendary Jedi mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Audiences quickly fell in love with these heroes, and they all remain pop culture icons.

More recently, “The Force Awakens” introduced a new generation of heroes, each one echoing those from the original, but with their own distinct characteristics. Rey is the film’s primary heroine, a scavenger who possesses the Force and whose parentage is a mystery. Finn, a Stormtrooper who defects after his first mission, and Poe Dameron, the best fighter pilot the Resistance has to offer, help her on her journey. We’re also introduced to a Yoda-esque alien named Maz Kanata. Of course, returning are Han and Leia, though Luke also comes back briefly… very briefly. These new characters have also made a huge impact on pop culture in the short time since the film’s debut, helping the franchise get back on its feet and inspiring countless fan theories regarding their origins.

The heroes are certainly among the best parts of both movies, but the edge here has to go to “A New Hope,” since they provided the archetype for their successors, and we’ve yet to see if Rey, Finn, and Poe will stand the test of time quite as successfully.

WINNER: “A New Hope” 1 / “The Force Awakens” 0


Round 2: Villains


Now for the dark side of the cast. In “A New Hope,” the Rebel Alliance is opposed by the evil Galactic Empire, which is a violent, fascist dictatorship that plans to destroy planets who oppose them with their super weapon: the Death Star. While some of the original trilogy’s villains don’t show up until the sequel, we’re still introduced to the franchise’s - and possibly even cinema’s - quintessential bad guy, Darth Vader, voiced to perfection with malicious authority by James Earl Jones. Though less memorable, Grand Moff Tarkin was the commander of the Death Star with an indelible malevolent presence. Also present are the Storm Troopers, soldiers of the Empire who... admittedly aren’t that intimidating, due to their poor aim.

More recently, the moniker of Big Bad was taken on by Kylo Ren in “The Force Awakens.” Originally known as Ben Solo, he is the son of Han and Leia and the grandson of Anakin Skywalker, AKA Darth Vader, whom he admires and wishes to avenge. He’s a powerful commander of the First Order, a second wave of the Galactic Empire, and a master of the mysterious Knights of Ren. Despite his upbringing and Jedi training from his uncle Luke, he was seduced to the dark side by Supreme Leader Snoke, a mysterious and threatening figure who leads the Order. Their underlings include the ruthless General Hux and the imposing Captain Phasma, leader of the Storm Troopers.

While “The Force Awakens” features quite a few memorable villains, we have to choose quality over quantity for this one, and no amount of evildoers can top the master of the force choke, Darth Vader.

WINNER: “A New Hope” 2 / “The Force Awakens” 0


Round 3: Acting


The late Sir Alec Guinness received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his compelling performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi. As previously mentioned, James Earl Jones’ powerful vocal performance as Darth Vader is a big part of what made the character so menacing and memorable. Besides these two, and Harrison Ford as Han, the cast was made up of mostly unknown actors, like Mark Hamill as Luke and Carrie Fisher as Leia. While it’s hard to imagine any other actors playing these roles, that isn’t to say that the acting was perfect. The acting in “A New Hope” may not have been its crowning jewel, but that doesn’t take away from its legacy.

With a much larger budget and huge brand recognition behind him, J.J. Abrams was able to assemble a prestigious all-star cast that included Oscar nominees Lupita Nyong’o and Max von Sydow as Maz Kanata and Lor San Tekka, respectively. Cast as the villain, Emmy nominee Adam Driver makes Kylo Ren both frightening and vulnerable. Our main trio is made up of relative newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey and Finn, with Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac as Poe. While awards and star status don’t necessarily make someone a great actor, these performers are all really at the top of their game here, creating deeper, more complex characters that are tailored for a modern audience.

“A New Hope” has definitely had the edge so far, but it’s not difficult to award this round to the astounding cast of “The Force Awakens.”

WINNER: “A New Hope” 2 / “The Force Awakens” 1

Round 4: Action


George Lucas is regarded as an absolute visionary for his work on “A New Hope,” and a large part of that is due to the revolutionary practical effects. Never before had fantastical space battles been portrayed quite so realistically, nor had audiences hadn’t seen a weapon as badass as a Lightsaber. The fatal battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader has gone down in film history as an epic moment charged with pathos, and the nail-biting assault on the Death Star is one of the most climactic moments in the history of the galaxy. It’s unfortunate, though, that many of these moments have been watered down by Lucas’ insistence on replacing his revolutionary effects with some less-impressive, late-‘90s CGI that really removes the viewers from the experience.

Once again, having a budget of over $300 million was certainly helpful in providing viewers in 2015 with a similarly awe-inspiring experience when it came to the action scenes in “The Force Awakens.” While there is definitely a lot of CGI in the film, Abrams went to great lengths to include practical effects in the action. There are plenty of jaw-dropping action sequences throughout, both in ships and on the ground. However, the most intense, white-knuckle sequence comes at the film’s climax, when Finn and Rey both take on Kylo Ren. The editing and fight choreography work together to create a breathtaking scene, and admit it: when Rey summoned Luke’s Lightsaber, it gave you chills.

Between them, there are some absolutely fantastic action sequences, but the more modern entry makes for much more complex, tighter, and more visually stunning sequences.

WINNER: “A New Hope” 2 / “The Force Awakens” 2


Round 5: Locations & Worlds


The galaxy far, far away is undoubtedly vast and beautiful. In “A New Hope,” we see the Skywalkers’ desert home planet of Tatooine and Yavin 4, a moon filled with lush rainforests. We also visit Mos Eisley, a spaceport filled with some shady characters and a cantina where Han definitely shot first. And, of course, we have the Republic base which doubles as a weapon, the Death Star. The filmmakers went to great lengths to bring life to these locations with as few resources as possible and they were undeniably successful; creating the beginnings of what would later grow into a lively, expansive universe with exquisite attention to detail that brings the audience right into that galaxy.

Meanwhile, “The Force Awakens” introduces us to Jakku, Rey’s home planet, home to a ship graveyard, as well as D’Qar, where General Leia’s Resistance Base is located. We also get to see Hosnian Prime… for about five seconds before it’s destroyed. The most beautiful world seen in the seventh film, however, is likely Ahch-To, where Rey finally finds Luke, but again, it’s only seen briefly. Takodana is where Maz Kanata’s castle is located, and, of course, there’s Starkiller Base, where Kylo Ren and his Order plot the downfall of the Resistance. There are certainly a large number of worlds, though they may be somewhat derivative of other planets in the canon – although that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Once again, “The Force Awakens”’ budget may give the newer movie a leg up in the quantity of locations, but we have to choose the magical, more unique environments showcased in the classic that started it all.

WINNER: “A New Hope 3” / “The Force Awakens” 2

It looks like there truly is no beating the original, with “A New Hope” edging its little sibling with a 3-2 score.

Did we pick the right “Star Wars”? Be sure to debate it in the comments and of course, don’t forget to subscribe to WatchMojo.com for more entertaining versus battles.
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