“May the Fourth Be With You” has come to be a rallying cry for Star Wars fans each year, even though the date has no intrinsic significance to George Lucas’ space opera. The original Star Wars film premiered on May 25, 1977, and although Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens broke with that and opened Dec. 18, 2015, May 4 has become an unofficial kick-off date for summerlong observances such as Disney’s Star Wars Weekends and other celebrations.
Why? It just sounds cool! But there is a reason for the May 4 — and, appropriately enough, it’s rife with political undertones.
According to Lucasfilm’s archives, one of the earliest known uses of the punny greeting in popular culture comes from a 1979 newspaper ad congratulating Margaret Thatcher on her historic election as Britain’s first woman prime minister:
This message, referring to the day of victory, was “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”
(This nugget comes from author Alan Arnold, who wrote about the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm.)
Of course, the Internet age was a while away, but when it arrived, it took the catchy message and ran with it. The topic will no doubt be trending again this year, and the official Star Wars Twitter channel has been promoting #StarWarsDay along with the launch of the Clone Wars spinoff series The Bad Batch on Disney+. Join other fans as they gather virtually on that social network and many others to geek out collectively about the best ways to celebrate the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …
- ‘Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian – Making of the Season 2 Finale’ coming to Disney+ Aug. 25
- Disney+ offers special look at Star Wars: Visions anime shorts
- Cavan Scott’s Rising Storm follows Light of the Jedi in Star Wars: The High Republic
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch mid-season sneak peek
- Del Rey expanding Star Wars Essential Legends Collection universe
- 1980s Droids cartoon finally joins Disney+ library
- Star Wars novels get new editions, cover art in Essential Legends Collection
- New Star Wars comic series set during High Republic coming from Marvel
- May the Fourth Be With You: How Margaret Thatcher’s rise launched a Star Wars tradition
- Star Wars: Republic Commando invades Switch, PS4
- Early Star Wars TV spin-offs come to Disney+ (UPDATED)
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch gets trailer and key art
- Obi-Wan Kenobi cast revealed as production set for April
- Free Comic Book Day 2021 titles revealed
- Star Wars: The Bad Batch deploys May 4 on Disney+
Celebrate with some light (or dark) reading:
Explore the world of Star Wars comics:
- Classic Comic Cover Corner: Star Wars #7 (No, not that one!) (1/27/2013) - With very little direction from Lucas’ then fledgling film company, Marvel Comics took the first step towards expanding the Star Wars universe with Star Wars #7.
- Classic Comic Cover Corner – Star Wars #13 (4/13/2014) - It was announced a few days ago that the seven-foot tall and 70-year-old actor, Peter Mayhew, would be reprising his role as Chewbacca in Star Wars: Episode VII...
- Classic Comic Cover Corner – Howard the Duck #23 (11/16/2014) - Gene Colan gave us the classic Star Wars film poster as it might have been if George Lucas had found Howard a decade earlier.
- Classic Comic Cover Corner – Star Wars #9 (1/18/2015) - They say the future ain’t what it used to be, but as the Star Wars expanded universe returns to Marvel Comics, the past is no longer what it used to be either.
- Classic Comic Cover Corner – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi #1 (9/6/2015) - Did you know that when Marvel initially took on the Star Wars comic book license, George Lucas practically had to beg Stan Lee to buy into it?
- Classic Comic Cover Corner – The Phantom Blot #2 (9/20/2015) - A few weeks back, George Lucas revealed that Jar Jar Binks was inspired by Goofy. This makes a lot of sense when you really think about it.