Star Wars: Rejected Title for Daisy Ridley’s ‘The Force Awakens’ Was Better in Literally Every Way

Star Wars fans will be surprised to learn how much sense the original title for Episode VII: The Force Awakens actually makes.

Star Wars, Daisy Ridley


  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens marked the start of the sequel trilogy of films, starring Daisy Ridley in the lead role.
  • According to reports, the film was originally going to have the title Shadow of the Empire, which was later changed during production.
  • Shadow of the Empire was a much better title as it gave meaning to the First Order and Kylo Ren's rise to power during the sequels.
Show More
Featured Video

Star Wars: The Force Awakens flew into theaters almost a decade ago, capturing the imagination of the franchise’s existing fanbase while also welcoming newer fans to the epic space opera saga. The film was a major commercial success, but the following installments received polarizing reactions from critics and fans alike, tainting the legacy of the sequel trilogy.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
The Force Awakens (2015) marked a new era for the Star Wars franchise (Credit: Lucasfilm).

However, all of that could have been potentially fixed with the first installment of the sequels retaining its tentative title. According to reports, The Force Awakens originally had an entirely different title during the early stages of the production. Here is what the Daisy Ridley-led film was initially going to be titled and why the franchise would have been better off sticking with it.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Was Originally Going to be Titled Shadow of the Empire

Star Wars: The Force Awakens starring Daisy Ridley as Rey was first released in December 2015. The film emerged as a major commercial success, grossing almost $2.071 billion at the global box office. While the simplicity of the film’s title was key to attracting new and general audiences, which is reflected in the box office numbers, it originally had a completely different title.

Daisey Ridley as Rey, BB-8, and John Boyega as Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was originally called Shadow of the Empire (Credit: Lucasfilm).

According to reports, Lucasfilm creative executive Pablo Hidalgo revealed that The Force Awakens was originally going to be titled Shadow of the Empire. Hidalgo revealed that the film held the title for quite some time before switching to the final iteration. However, the executive hinted that the title was likely changed to avoid similarities with an Extended Universe / Legends novel.

Published in 1996, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was a novel written by Steve Perry, which took place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. However, since the novel was declared non-canon following Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney, it is possible that the title of Episode VII was changed to avoid any confusion.

Why Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire Was a Much Better Title For the First Sequel Trilogy Movie

Shadow of the Empire was a very suitable title for Episode VII as it seems like a natural progression of the subtitles in the Skywalker saga. The film takes place after the Empire’s defeat in Return of the Jedi and focuses on the First Order’s attempt to rule the galaxy far, far away. As a result, the title references the First Order’s rise in the wake of the Empire’s downfall.

adam driver as kylo ren-2 star wars
Shadow of the Empire would have indicated Kylo Ren was the focus of the sequel trilogy (Credit: Lucasfilm).

The First Order was controlled by Snoke, who was later revealed to be a puppet of Emperor Palpatine. As a result, Shadow of the Empire would have foreshadowed this twist and also made Palpatine’s return much more digestible for fans instead of polarizing them.

Similarly, the title would have indicated to the viewers that the story would largely focus on Kylo Ren / Ben Solo, the grandson of Darth Vader. The sequel trilogy hints at Ren’s idolization of Vader and his struggles under the shadow of the Skywalker legacy, making him conflicted between the light and dark side of the Force.

Kylo Ren’s character arc, which became a polarizing topic in later films would have worked better with the initial title. Therefore, not only would the title have been in sync with the progression of the Skywalker saga but it would also have actually helped resolve some of the issues fans had with the later installments in the sequel trilogy, making Shadow of the Empire a missed opportunity.


The Force Awakens and other Star Wars movies are streaming on Disney+. 

Pratik Handore

Written by Pratik Handore

Articles Published: 615

Pratik is a writer at FandomWire, with a content writing experience of five years. Although he has a Bachelors in Hospitality, his fascination with all things pop culture led him to writing articles on a variety of topics ranging from latest streaming releases to unheard movie trivia. When not writing, you can find him reading manga, or watching classic TV shows.