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The Empire Strikes Back's First Trailer Was Unlike Anything You'd Expect To See Today

From 1977 to 1983, George Lucas thrilled audiences with the original trilogy of "Star Wars" movies, which see Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) become a Jedi and face his destiny by freeing the galaxy from the iron fist of the fascist Empire. Since then, the franchise has become one of the biggest properties on the planet, with a further six films exploring the Skywalker Saga and two spin-off movies that fill in the timeline. The galaxy far, far away has grown even bigger in recent years thanks to Disney+ and the likes of "The Mandalorian," which explores new heroes and villains after the end of "Episode VI – Return of the Jedi."

But it's worth pointing out that even though some of the recent adventures in the "Star Wars" galaxy have been successful — if divisive — the original trilogy is often held in higher regard. Take "Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back," for example. It has a 94% critic rating and a 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, both of which are higher than those of all three titles in the sequel trilogy. Granted, some of that could be down to some of the backlash from a vocal minority of the fandom, but it still suggests that the 1980 sequel is a favorite among audiences.

George Lucas reflected on why fans love it so much when speaking to Empire in 2020, saying, "The fans like 'The Empire Strikes Back' the best, partly because it is so dark. It's an overall story and as it happens in the second act, things get dark." It has a much different tone from that of "A New Hope," but to be fair, audiences were warned it was going to be different with the film's radical trailer.

Harrison Ford narrates the trailer

A trailer can be the be-all and end-all of a movie's marketing campaign nowadays, mainly because creating a captivating trailer has become an art that is tricky to master. Obviously, this preview footage doesn't always reflect the final product. Just look at the infamously brilliant trailer for David Ayer's "Suicide Squad" compared to the poorly received theatrical cut. Ouch.

But the "Empire Strikes Back" trailer focuses on how monumental it is that a sequel is on the way before highlighting how different it is from the previous movie. It shows off explosive battles on the ice planet Hoth, thrilling dogfights in space, and a few glimpses of Darth Vader (David Prowse) causing trouble for the Rebels. However, the most unexpected part of the "Empire Strikes Back" trailer is the fact that it's narrated by Han Solo himself, Mr. Harrison Ford. The star's instantly recognizable voice is heard over the footage explaining that it continues the story from "A New Hope" but stars new characters and locations.

It's bizarre to watch because the formula for modern trailers has moved far away from the narrated format that studios stuck to decades ago. Now, trailers typically hype up a specific reveal at the end of the footage, administer a dose of nostalgia, or feature a creepy cover of a classic pop song. But who knows? Maybe Disney should get Harrison Ford to narrate the next trailer for whichever "Star Wars" movie eventually brings the franchise back to the big screen.