These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternative Character Interpretation: People have noted that the Death Star gunner lingered on Yavin IV despite having a firing solution for some time. ("Stand by.... Stand by....") They believed that the gunner might have had an attack of conscience and was deliberately delaying in the off-chance that someone might stop him from destroying the Rebel base. This interpretation has even became canon in the Legends universe.
And You Thought It Would Fail: Multiple studios turned the film proposal down and most of the management of 20th Century Fox outside of Alan Ladd Jr. thought it would be a final embarrassment before Fox closed its doors. Even George Lucas' director's guild thought it was going to bomb, which was the only reason the let him release it without any opening credits. After the film exploded into the public consciousness, everyone else changed their tune saying this film was the kind of unorthodox creative dare that company founder, Daryl Zanuck, often won big with.
Luke gets over Owen and Beru's death pretty easily. Making his reaction to Obi-Wan's death even more strange.
Award Snub: Many people see it losing Best Picture to Annie Hall as this. Both are widely considered to be fantastic movies, though.
Quite a few see Alec Guinness losing Best Supporting Actor to Jason Robards in Julia as this. Though given how much the actor came to hate the fame he gained purely for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi, this could be for the best.
Complete Monster: Despite having no Sith Powers, Grand Moff Tarkin is just as horrible as Palpatine. He orders the destruction of a heavily populated and influential planet purely to make a point to Leia, blowing up Alderaan even after Leia tells him what he wants to know; he seems quite willing to repeat the process ad infinitum if such is necessary to quash the Rebellion. The only emotion he shows at all at this prospect is a kind of cold satisfaction. The Star Wars Expanded Universe only makes him worse: He first came to the Emperor's attention after he crushed a peaceful tax protest under his boots...by landing his Star Destroyer on them, killing thousands. He codified the Empire's policy of rule through fear as "The Tarkin Doctrine," which led to the creation of the Death Star (a project he oversaw); he later tested the Death Star's superlaser on the prison planet Despayre, the final site of the Death Star's construction. Thus, despite not having anywhere near the power of Palpatine, Wilhuff Tarkin is directly responsible for the destruction of two planets and the deaths of billions.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Porkins is only on-screen for about a minute before being blown to smithereens, but is probably the most popular background character in the movie.
Wedge Antilles became popular enough to bring back in the rest of the series, helping lead the fight against the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
The Cantina denizens. In the actual film they're more set pieces than characters, but they did their job in the narrative - giving the viewer an impression of just how diverse The Galaxy is - so well that most of them have received extensive backstories in the Expanded Universe. And to think, a number of them were cobbled together from old Halloween costumes!
Foreshadowing: Obi-Wan says Luke's father was "the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior." This line, in hindsight, gives us a clue as to the true identity of Vader. Why does Vader choose to personally take the Rebel ships out one by one, when he could just order a few TIE fighter pilots to do it? Because he's "the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior."
Though it's well-documented that Lucas didn't make Vader Luke's father until the sequel was being made, so this is really a hindsight thing than deliberate foreshadowing.
Not only did Luke's father become Darth Vader, but we later see in Attack of the Clones that, the same day Owen met Anakin, Anakin killed a whole tribe of Tusken Raiders out of anger. Evidently he's afraid Luke will do something like that.
After watching the prequels, seeing Vader so callously shoot R2 with a TIE Fighter blast makes him seem all the more cruel. He might not have known it was R2 or even aiming for him but it still jerks a tear.
Also, Darth Vader, later revealed to be the father of Luke Skywalker, had Luke's Uncle and Aunt murdered by stormtroopers, meaning he had his (step)brother killed. Several years later, with The Lion King, Simba's father ends up killed by his uncle. The connection between the two? Both Vader and Mufasa (Simba's father) were portrayed by James Earl Jones.
Garven Dreis, aka Red Leader, was shot down by Darth Vader in the last moments of the film. A New Hope also proved to be the last acting role that Drew Henley, the actor who played Dreis, would partake in, retiring shortly thereafter due to being diagnosed with Manic Depression.
Also, Dreis being shot down by Darth Vader is even more harsh after the revelation that he and Vader (then known as Anakin Skywalker) were originally comrades.
Leia's torture at the hands of Vader is disturbing enough, then comes the revelation that he was (unknowingly) doing it to his own daughter
Heartwarming In Hindsight: Luke and C-3PO's bond throughout this film and the OT becomes more heartwarming once it was revealed in The Phantom Menace that Threepio was originally built by Anakin, making Luke and Threepio, in a sense, brothers.
If you think about it, it's more just showing that Obi Wan's been in hiding for so long. The last time he was hanging around with troopers they were kicking ass, and then killing Jedi.
Given what we later discover about Vader's policy on employee mistakes in the next movie, Admiral Motti comes off as exceptionally stupid for picking a fight with Vader, especially by mocking the religion the Emperor holds to. This is even lampshaded by Grand Moff Tarkin in the Death Star Technical Manual, where he expressed that if Motti didn't keep his opinions to himself regarding the Force, he won't last long under Palpatine's Empire.
Just going by the films, Palpatine may not have ever let on to anyone but his apprentices that he was a Sith Lord.
According to the novelization, Obi-Wan was uncomfortable about Luke's questions about his father, but unlike Owen, Obi-Wan *didn't like lying* so he told the truth from a certain point of view: Darth Vader killed Luke's father.
Those who got to watch this first before they encountered the reveal that Luke and Leia are twin brother and sister may call the latter as a cop-out from the romantic triangle issue, but it does add some flavor to the films. With that knowledge, Han and Chewie have become two unfortunate guys getting caught in the middle of a big family mess, acting as some kind of baby sitters as the two siblings start putting things together. And it does add some more humor at how the two separately snark at his ship when each sees it for the first time.
Luke: What a piece of junk!
Leia: You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought.
Memetic Loser: Greedo, after George Lucas edited his scene so that he shoots but misses Han Solo at point-blank range. Even LEGO got in on the fun with a Funny Background Event in Revenge of the Brick wherein Greedo repeatedly fails to hit a dartboard positioned only a few inches away from him.
Mis-blamed: Vader did not destroy Alderaan. Tarkin did. Some fans actually forget this.
The wingman who flies on Vader's left somehow manages to escape blame for his flub. Han Solo only shot one of Vader's wingmen - the other one simply overreacted to Han's surprise attack and crashed his TIE Fighter into Vader's of his own accord.
Lucas revealed in an interview that the reason why Greedo shoots first in the re-made version was to prevent a PG-13 rating, which didn't exist in 1977. Not because he hated true fans, despite what some may say.
The infamous "Han Shot First" scene is a victim of this in the remastered editions. The digital editing isn't so great at convincing you that Greedo shot first, and Han's attempted "dodging" is particularly bad. It doesn't even look so much like "dodging" as much as it does "Greedo misses at point blank range."
Another failure first seen in the special editions was the use of a (very poor) CGI Jaba the Hutt in one previously deleted scene. That particular model was replaced in the 2004 edition with the one used in The Phantom Menace.
During the trench run just before the "Use the Force Luke" line, one scene of the Tie Fighters flying into the camera is obviously a flat photo-stat.
One failure that was fixed in the 1997 special editions and onward; in the shot just after Vader's "I have you now!" line, freeze-framing will reveal that the Tie Fighter to the right of Vader is completely absent for two frames.
The stormtrooper rifles were made from fully-functional British Sterling submachine guns, and fired "Hollywood blanks" to provide smoke and muzzle flash. During the gunfight across the chasm in the Death Star (where Leia kisses Luke before swinging across) the sound of the blank cartridges is heard when Leia takes a few shots, instead of the usual sound effect dubbed in.
In many scenes involving Lightsabers, there's always bound to be errors. These were fixed in the special editions.
As was a matte painting of a hallway and most of the optical lines around the ships.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The fact that for a while (and before he retconned the reason for the famous change into "so it would stay PG"), Lucas acted shocked and disappointed that fans would actually prefer "Han shot first", and then went on to assert that the original version basically has Han shoot Greedo in cold blood (or...something). George's attitude has led to analogies being made to the "gun control" debate of today.
Win the Crowd: For many, it was the first Star Destroyer shot. This was actually George Lucas's intention, and it was subsequently one of the most expensive shots of the film - he believed that if he hooked audiences from the beginning, then they would likely come back for more.
Woolseyism/Bilingual Bonus: In the Italian versions of the movie, the Death Star was called the Morte Nera, which means the "Black Death." It's a very fitting name, as like the Death Star, the Black Death also resulted in a large extermination of people.