Throughout recorded history (and earlier!) May the fourth tended to pass without much comment. Sure, things happened. Henry the First, king of France, was born that day in AD 1008. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI divvied up the New World between Spain and Portugal, much to the surprise and annoyance of everyone else. And 1910 marked the start of the Royal Canadian Navy. (It’s almost finished!)
And then, on May 25, 1977, a new film premiered in a handful of American cinemas. In one of the movie’s later scenes, a minor character, General Dodonna, is briefing pilots before an attack. No further questions, he confirms. “Then man your ships. And may the Force be with you!” May the fourth has never been the same.
History records the first punned use of “May the fourth be with you” in a British newspaper advertisement in 1979, celebrating the day Margaret Thatcher took over as Prime Minister. But the ball seems to have really started rolling in 2011, with a “Star Wars Day” celebration at the Toronto Underground Cinema. Disney jumped on the wagon after its purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012. And May the Fourth reached space in 2015, when astronauts on the moon watched one of the films.
Wait, that’s no moon. It’s a space station.
All of which brings us to May the Fourth, 2021. Disney+, keeper of the sacred flame of Star Wars, is releasing the first episode of The Bad Batch, a new animated series spun off from the long-running Clone Wars cartoons. The dirty not-quite-half-dozen comprise Wrecker, Hunter, Echo, Tech and Crosshair (all voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), known collectively as Clone Force 99.
When Order 66 causes most of the Clone Troopers to turn on their Jedi allies, these five rogue fighters go their own way, though one is seriously conflicted. The series will follow their mercenary exploits as they try to navigate their way in the newly formed Empire. The first episode is 70 minutes, with subsequent weekly chapters clocking in at 30. It’s unlikely to become the kind of must-watch show as The Mandalorian – for one thing, there’s no Baby Yoda in this one – but The Bad Batch is a fun hit of Star Wars, especially if May the Fourth has you yearning for something new from the franchise.
In addition, Disney+ is releasing a good batch of Star Wars related content to its streaming service. The Force Awakens From Its Nap is a new Simpsons short featuring baby Maggie on a quest to retrieve a stolen pacifier. Star Wars Biomes provides flyovers of locations including Hoth and Tatooine; just the kind of virtual vacation we’ve become used to over the past year. And Star Wars Vehicle Flythroughs lets viewers explore the interiors of the Millennium Falcon and an Imperial Star Destroyer.
Or you can celebrate the birthdays of Will Arnett, Richard Jenkins, Audrey Hepburn and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s not all Star Wars, you know.