I, like many thousands of people, grew up with Star Wars. I'm only 17, but I don't remember I time when I didn't know that Vader was Luke's father, or that the green, old, alien guy on Dagobah was Jedi Master Yoda, or that Leia is Luke's sister. They're just things that I have just known for my entire life. I even think highly of the prequels, for the reason that if they weren't Star Wars movies, they'd be EPIC, where as for Star Wars movies, they're very, very, OKAY. I do also believe that they are necessary to the story arc for Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, because I truly believe that the entirety of the Star Wars saga should be subtitled "The Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker."
All that being said, I think that The Force Awakens will IGNITE geek culture, and the entire pop culture world. Once I reached a certain age, Star Wars didn't exactly become less cool, but I have gradually gravitated away from it, and I'm hardly the super-fan I was when The Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005. But, with the new movie coming out, I have become OBSESSED again. And I think that's what will happen with the people who aren't already completely obsessed with Star Wars. I have grown up with my dad whenever anyone asks him what his favorite movie is, saying "Oh well other than Star Wars..." because it really is just, that, good.
Apart from that, a big reason why a lot of people liked - and some didn't like - the prequels, is because of the enormity of the special effects used. Despite the fact that it is mostly CGI, there's no denying that it is breathtakingly spectacular at times, the Mustafar lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi is just one example, and to be honest, it would have been very difficult to make without CGI.
That being said, I do completely disagree about Lucas' decision not to make any Clone Trooper armor in the entirety of the prequels, everybody loved the organic-ness of the Stormtrooper armor in the original trilogy. Even if we ended up with some hilarious fails.
But can you imagine, a mix of both? The organic, practical special effects of the original trilogy and CGI, PLUS our favorite characters coming back and kicking ass in a world that feels simply more Star Wars-y.
I have to admit, when I first heard that Disney was making a Star Wars movie I kinda flipped. "No! They're gonna turn it into a musical!" But, it turns out, they're not, and they even got one of my favorite directors ever to direct it, someone who has made great shows like Lost (if you don't count season 6), great movies like Super 8, and more recently done an EXCELLENT job with the Star Trek reboots. All in all, I think that The Force Awakens is going to be able to stand with The Empire Strikes Back, and maybe even the original Star Wars, it might even be better. One thing is definite though, Han, Shot, first.