“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 …
- Book of Boba Fett: 7 weekly chapters begin Dec. 29 on Disney+
- Dark Horse Comics returning to Star Wars publishing in 2022
- Here is your Disney-approved Star Wars books canon
- Special Look Under the Helmet: The Legacy of Boba Fett
- Classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comes to Nintendo Switch
- Kenobi, Darth Plagueis, Wedge’s Gamble, Dynasty of Evil get Essential Legends Star Wars book reprints
- Return of the Jedi: Lightspeed Saber League back in competition
- Book of Boba Fett trailer opens up the Star Wars underworld
- ‘The Art of Star Wars: Visions coming April 2022 from Dark Horse Books
- LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales now streaming on Disney+
- Disney+ opens The Book of Boba Fett on Dec. 29, 2021
- Disney releases Star Wars: Visions anime anthology
- Prepare yourself: KOTOR is actually being remade
- Del Rey expanding Star Wars Essential Legends Collection universe
- Disney+ debuts trailer for LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales
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.