With film's most venerable space opera about to start bringing new stories to the big screen at the planned rate of one per year, beginning with tonight's opening of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the time seemed right for an updated guide to the galactic saga created by George Lucas .
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ...": The first words that appear onscreen in every live-action "Star Wars" film, always in blue text.
AT-AT is the common shorthand for All Terrain Armored Transport, a four-legged Imperial vehicle used in the Battle of Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back."
AT-ST is the common shorthand for All Terrain Scout Transport, a two-legged Imperial vehicle used on Endor (and taken down by Ewoks) in "Return of the Jedi."
Aunt Beru is the common reference to Beru Lars, who raised Luke Skywalker with her husband, Owen, on Tatooine and was sympathetic to the young man's desire to leave home. She appears in the original "Star Wars" and was killed offscreen by Stormtroopers. She's seen as a younger woman in the prequels. Played by Shelagh Fraser in "A New Hope" and Bonnie Piesse in "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith."
Bantha refers to an elephant-size furry creature with curved horns seen ridden by Tusken Raiders on Tatooine in the original "Star Wars."
Bantha fodder is a term used as an insult by Jabba the Hutt in "Return of the Jedi" when he tells Han Solo (according to the subtitles), "You may have been a good smuggler, but now you're bantha fodder."
BB-8: The soccer-ball-ish droid in "The Force Awakens."
C-3PO (the letter O, not zero) is an etiquette and protocol droid fluent in over 6 million forms of communication. Casually called Threepio. Built by Anakin Skywalker. Long associated with R2-D2: They are the first characters seen in "A New Hope" and the witnesses at Anakin and Padmé's wedding in "Attack of the Clones." In "A New Hope," Threepio and Artoo are aboard Princess Leia's diplomatic ship when it's boarded by Darth Vader but take an escape pod to Tatooine, where they're bought by Owen Lars and become servants to Luke Skywalker. In "The Empire Strikes Back," Threepio stumbles upon Stormtroopers hiding in Cloud City and is blasted apart before being reassembled with his head on backward by Chewbacca. In "Return of the Jedi," Threepio and Artoo are sent to Jabba's palace by Luke Skywalker to barter for Han Solo's return. He has a habit of trying to tell Han the odds. In all films, cartoons and radio dramas, the character is voiced by Anthony Daniels, who's also in the suit for the films.
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Capt. Phasma is Gwendoline Christie's First Order character in "The Force Awakens."
Dagobah is the swampy planet where Yoda retreated after the end of "Revenge of Sith." It is here where Luke Skywalker finds him in "The Empire Strikes Back" and where Yoda dies in "Return of the Jedi."
Death Star: It's no moon but "an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet." The first is commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin in "A New Hope" and used to destroy Alderaan. Fatal design flaw: A small thermal exhaust port at the end of a trench wide enough for an X-wing to fly through. The second one (looking incomplete but - surprise! - fully operational) is where Luke Skywalker meets the Emperor and duels Darth Vader in "Return of the Jedi." Fatal design flaw: A main reactor accessible by areas wide enough for the Millennium Falcon to fly through. Plans for it are seen in "Attack of the Clones," and it's seen under construction at the end of "Revenge of the Sith."
Endor is home to the Ewoks and site of the generator for a shield protecting the unfinished second Death Star in "Return of the Jedi." The phrase "the forest moon of Endor" in "Return of the Jedi" might make it seem as though Endor is a planet and the Ewoks live on an unnamed moon that orbits it, but Lucasfilm uses the name Endor for the moon itself.
Finn is a character played by John Boyega in "The Force Awakens."
The Force: In "A New Hope," Obi-Wan Kenobi explains it as "what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us. It penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." Darth Vader says the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to it.
Gen. Hux is a First Order officer played by Domhnall Gleeson in "The Force Awakens."
Geonosis is a planet seen in "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" where battle droids are manufactured by Geonosians for the Separatist Alliance.
George Lucas is the creator of "Star Wars" and wrote and directed the 1977 original and the prequel trilogy (Jonathan Hales shared a screenplay credit on "Attack of the Clones"). He founded Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic.
Greedo is a Rodian bounty hunter who confronts and is killed by Han Solo in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine in "A New Hope." In the original theatrical film, Han shot first. In the Special Edition and subsequent releases, Greedo shoots first.
Hoth is the snowy planet where the Rebel Alliance has its Echo Base and comes under attack at the beginning of "The Empire Strikes Back." It's here where Princess Leia kisses Luke Skywalker during an argument with Han Solo.
"The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" is the foreboding leitmotif by John Williams, familiar from the films and pretty much every marching band, that was first featured in "The Empire Strikes Back."
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
When: Opens Dec. 18 (screenings begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 17)
Where: Wide release
Running time: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Kessel Run: Something Han Solo claims the Millennium Falcon has made in less than 12 parsecs during a conversation with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker at Mos Eisley Cantina in "A New Hope." C-3PO mentions that there are spice mines on Kessel.
Kylo Ren is a character played by Adam Driver in "The Force Awakens." He uses a cross-guard lightsaber.
Millennium Falcon: the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy; Han Solo won this starship from Lando Calrissian fair and square. In "Star Wars," it's used in the rescue of Leia (though Vader has a homing beacon attached that leads the Empire to the Rebels on Yavin IV) and attack on the first Death Star. In "The Empire Strikes Back," it survives an asteroid field and gets Han Solo, T Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO to Cloud City. After Han is captured, Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca use it to escape with Leia and rescue Luke Skywalker. In "Return of the Jedi," Han lends it to Lando for the assault on the second Death Star, during which it's co-piloted by Nien Nunb and fires the shots that destroy the station. It will appear in "The Force Awakens."
Order 66: Palpatine's order to his clone troopers to wipe out the Jedi in "Revenge of the Sith."
Otoh Gunga is the underwater city on Naboo where Jar Jar Binks takes Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to meet Boss Nass and get transport to Theed in "The Phantom Menace."
R2-D2 is the droid paired with C-3PO that's entrusted with Death Star plans and a message for Obi-Wan Kenobi by Princess Leia in "A New Hope" and serves as Luke Skywalker's X-wing astromech in all three of the original trilogy films. Artoo also helps Luke and company out of a number of scrapes, and often frustrates Threepio. You've never seen such devotion in a droid. Artoo also appears in the prequel films. It's Kenny Baker inside. The little droid's sound effects were designed by Ben Burtt.
Rey is a character played by Daisy Ridley in "The Force Awakens."
Salacious Crumb is the little laughing creature that sits by Jabba the Hutt in "Return of the Jedi."
The sarlacc: It lives in the Pit of Carkoon in the Dune Sea of Tatooine. Jabba the Hutt plans to feed Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca to it in "Return of the Jedi." As Threepio puts it in translating their death sentences, "in his belly you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years." Mandalorian armor might make it burp.
Supreme Leader Snoke is a character played by Andy Serkis in "The Force Awakens."
Tatooine is a crime-ridden desert planet orbiting twin suns that's a major setting in "A New Hope," "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones." Home at various times to Anakin Skywalker, Jabba the Hutt, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. If there's a bright center to the universe, this is the planet it's farthest from.
Wicket is the common name for Wicket W. Warrick, an Ewok who befriends Leia and helps the Rebellion in "Return of the Jedi." First name only is acceptable in all references. Played by Warwick Davis in that film and the Ewok TV movies. Davis is also in the cast of "The Force Awakens" in an as-yet-unknown role.
Hennon is a multiplatform editing supervisor on The Los Angeles Times' features copy desk who has written for the Times' Hero Complex website.