What Year Does Star Wars: The Force Awakens Take Place In?

We've cracked the code. Ladies and gentlemen, we've figured out just how long ago "a long time ago" is! Behold!

First things first: This post is mostly in jest. In fact, it’s based on a tweet I did the other day where Mike Cecchini (AKA Editor Palpatine) dared me to do a full article on it. I get paid no matter how stupid it is, so I’m game.

Okay, so the new Star Wars happened. It’s pretty swell and I won’t spoil it. Though I don’t think I’m spoiling when I say that it begins with the text…

“A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY…”

Isn’t that always kind of weird? “A long time ago?” A story that involves human beings in space ships with laser swords and cyborg implants takes place in the distant past? If you say so, but when in the past? How far back are we talking here?

The Star Wars community has its own way to keep track of its timeline without bringing Earth years into it. Things are measured by the Battle of Yavin from A New Hope, using that as their version of the birth of Christ. All things considered, centering your entire universe around the time a giant death laser space fortress exploded and killed thousands of space Nazis is pretty goddamn metal.

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“HAPPY LIFE DAY, YOU OLD SAVINGS AND LOAN!”

That means A New Hope is 0 ABY (again, “After Battle of Yavin”). I originally figured that the other original trilogy movies as well as The Force Awakens would advance in real time after that considering there are no immediate cliffhangers. The idea that the original movies happened three years apart made sense to me, but that’s apparently not the case. While Empire Strikes Back is three years after A New Hope, Return of the Jedi is only a year after Empire. In other words, Return of the Jedi happened in 4 ABY.

According to Wookieepedia, who I imagine know what they’re talking about because God help us if they don’t, Force Awakens is 34 ABY. Four years earlier than it really should be, but that’s fine.

Now, there was that game in 2008 called Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. With a story spanning the time in-between the prequel and original trilogies, it told of the life and times of Starkiller, alias Galen Marek, alias the Apprentice. Trained by Vader as kind of a look of what it would have been like if Luke joined his father’s side, Galen was a Sith apprentice who hunted down some of the remaining Jedi, fell in love with his pilot companion, got betrayed by Vader, and ended up inspiring the Rebel Alliance into being a full-on thing by dying a badass martyr’s death.

Then he was cloned and had more adventures, but that’s not important.

Supposedly, Galen’s death happened around the 2 BBY mark. So New Hope was about two years later.

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Now, then. How does Star Wars relate to Earth chronology and why the hell am I bringing up a random video game from years ago?

For that we must take a trip to another franchise. A franchise transcending history and the world. A tale of souls and swords eternally retold. Whatever that means.

The Soul Edge/Soul Blade/SoulCalibur series is a collection of fighting games that takes place several centuries ago in the times of samurais, ninjas, knights, pirates, cranky men with owl heads, etc. The story revolves around a sword that is kind of like the One Ring from Lord of the Rings, only it’s actually useful in battle. Sure, it’ll eat your soul away and spread evil across the land, but you’ll also be smiting your enemies with a giant, crooked, demonic broadsword with eyeballs all over it. Then there’s the SoulCalibur sword, which is the yin to its yang and for some reason doesn’t have a space in it.

When SoulCalibur IV hit, they decided to throw a bunch of guest characters in there. The trio of Darth Vader, Yoda, and Galen were brought into the plot due to rifts in space that allowed them to show up on Earth. All of them were drawn in by the power of the Soul Edge and SoulCalibur, which were for some reason attuned to the Force.

This took place during Galen’s adventures in slaying Jedi, presumably early on since this was his introduction as a character (SoulCalibur IV came out before Force Unleashed). I’d say that would probably mean that SoulCalibur IV takes place 3 BBY. Now we’re getting somewhere.

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Then came SoulCalibur V. This sadly did not feature any Star Wars characters, but it does give a lot of reference. For one, the story specifically takes place 17 years after the last game, giving us a new generation of warriors and older versions of classic characters. That means that SoulCalibur V is ABY 14.

Although the game lacks arcade mode endings for some ungodly reason, it does have a story mode. The title of the story mode? “1607 AD!”

BAM! 1607 AD is 14 years after the first Death Star blew up! We have our reference! That means New Hope took place in 1593 AD.

Ergo, Star Wars: The Force Awakens takes place in the year 1627 AD. There we go! There’s our nerdier version of figuring out when Ice Cube had a good day!

Meanwhile, the SoulCalibur series is a prequel to the Tekken series. Recently, Street Fighter’s Akuma has been introduced as a part of Tekken’s canon, vindicating my head-canon theory that he’s a martial arts Sith Lord who simply digs fireballs over lightning.

Now you might be saying, “Gavin, that was a complete waste of my time and I’m going to angrily point that out on the Facebook link to this article! But anyway, didn’t Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars turn basically all of the Expanded Universe null and void?”

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Well…yeah, I guess. Okay, so SoulCalibur V didn’t happen within the current canon. That’s fine. Even the entire story of Force Unleashed and its sequel are negated. Also fine. I still figure that while the events are altered, the time placement would surely remain the same. Vader and Yoda not getting involved in fighting Siegfried and Astaroth doesn’t mean that everything suddenly takes place 300 years later, right?

I think it’s a pretty sound theory. Sure, SoulCalibur isn’t a Disney property or anything (yet), but it’s not like the cast of Star Wars has ever visited Earth via a property that IS owned by Disney.

Oh, God damn it!

All right, well I guess it turns out The Force Awakens takes place in the year 2011. My bad.

Gavin Jasper is shockingly single. Go figure. Check him out on Tind—I mean, Twitter!