One of the big complaints some had about The Force Awakens was that it felt too similar to A New Hope. It turns out that was intentional on the part of JJ Abrams, as they wanted to “reclaim the story” from the Prequels.
The revelation came via an interview he took part in with Chris Rock at the Tribeca Film Festival, and IGN has some quotes from it:
“This movie [The Force Awakens] was a bridge and a kind of reminder; the audience needed to be reminded what Star Wars is, but it needed to be established with something familiar, with a sense of where we are going to new lands, which is very much what 8 and 9 do.”
“The weird thing about that movie is that it had been so long since the last one. Obviously the prequels had existed in between and we wanted to, sort of, reclaim the story. So we very consciously – and I know it is derided for this – we very consciously tried to borrow familiar beats so the rest of the movie could hang on something that we knew was Star Wars.”
Some Star Wars fans had been accused of sparking a conspiracy theory with their belief that the Episode IV similarities were intentional, and now Abrams has validated that theory by confirming they set out to do just that.