I was born in the early 1970s, and was very much the target audience for Star Wars when it originally debuted in 1977. I was old enough to understand the straightforward story of good versus evil, and the exploits were far beyond anything I had ever seen. Of course, in 1977, despite George Lucas relying heavily on the storytelling outlines charted by Joseph Campbell, he combined and altered much of the window dressing to make an original and imaginative experience for virtually all audiences.
Much of what I, and I suspect many others, responded to when I first saw the movie was the unbridled imagination. Walking out of the theater back then, my head was racing with all of these weird and wondrous images. Brand new ideas had been thrown at me every couple of minutes for the previous two hours, and it would take several more repeat viewings before I would be able to really start to understand everything.
I remember be wholly mesmerized by the first minute or so of the Cantina scene, where we saw alien after alien after alien, all hanging out and interacting together. In every science fiction piece I’d seen previously, we’d get humans and maybe one other alien species, most of which looked like just another human painted a weird color or sporting pointed ears. But here, Lucas showed that that his universe contained ALL the aliens. Every type you’d every conceived of in one place and, despite a few bad apples, were all content hanging out with one another.
As probably just about any other Star Wars fan, I could go on at length about all the imaginative ideas the movies introduced me to. But I recognize, too, that the law of diminishing returns is in effect here, as well. For all the brilliant ideas in the first movie, some of those were repeated in the second for the sake of continuity. Which absolutely makes sense, but that means that every movie after the first is less impactful for me… from the perspective of the imaginative ideas that I walked away from each film with. A sword made purely out of light is an absolutely incredible concept; making a double-bladed version comes across as decidedly derivative by comparison.
Of course, the brilliance of the Star Wars saga is that, while bombarding the audience with new ideas, you’re also learning to get concerned and care about the characters and their universe. I’m sitting here, several decades removed from reading the opening crawl for the first time, and I’ve seen the movies and cartoons, read the comics, played the video games… there’s almost no way that Episode VII can possibly be as original to me now as Episode IV was to me decades ago. But that speaks to how people like me change the way they act and interact with their fandom of choice. We get hooked initially on the themes and ideas, but keep coming back out of love for the characters. It doesn’t matter if you follow Lucas or Tolkien or Rowling or Whedon or any other creator, but you only interact with the originality of thought and idea rarely lasts beyond the first installment, and you’ll find yourself following the characters throughout your days in fandom.