The original title for The Force Awakens is already familiar to Star Wars fans

Episode VII went by a different name in its early days

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As titles go, The Force Awakens is a pretty good one. After all, the film does what it says on the tin. “There has been an awakening”, as Andy Serkis’s evil General Snoke told us in the very first trailer

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But it turns out the new Star Wars film didn’t always have such an explanatory name. Pablo Hidalgo, LucasFilm’s creative executive, revealed on Twitter that Episode VII had a working title already familiar to many Star Wars fans.

And it wasn’t long before someone asked him to explain further…

Sound familiar? Cast your mind back to 1996 and you might remember the release of a novel titled… Shadows of the Empire. The story was written by Steve Perry and George Lucas-approved, taking place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It was heavily marketed around its time of release, although according to Disney, it belongs to the “expanded universe” as only the original six movies are nowadays considered canon. 

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Nevertheless, it spawned a comic book series, video games and eventually paved the way for Lucas’ Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition the following year. Although, if you ask us, we’re glad they went with The Force Awakens.