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Star Wars

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Star Wars
Star wars2.svg
Created by George Lucas
Original work Star Wars (1977)[a]
Owner Lucasfilm
(The Walt Disney Company)
Print publications
Novel(s) List of novels
Comics List of comics
Films and television
Film(s) full list...
Television series The Mandalorian
(2019)
Animated series full list...
Games
Role-playing List of RPGs
Video game(s) List of video games
Audio
Radio program(s) List of radio dramas
Original music Music
Miscellaneous
Toys Toys
Theme park attractions List of theme park attractions

Star Wars is an American epic space opera franchise, created by George Lucas and centered around a film series that began with the eponymous 1977 movie. The saga quickly became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon.

The first film was followed by two successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983); these three films constitute the original Star Wars trilogy. A prequel trilogy was released between 1999 and 2005, albeit to mixed reactions from critics and fans. A sequel trilogy concluding the main story of the nine-episode saga began in 2015 with The Force Awakens.[1] The first eight films were nominated for Academy Awards (with wins going to the first two released) and were commercially successful, with a combined box office revenue of over US$8.5 billion.[2] Together with the theatrical spin-off films The Clone Wars (2008), Rogue One (2016) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), Star Wars is the second highest-grossing film series ever.[3]

The film series has spawned into other media, including books, television shows, computer and video games, theme park attractions and lands, and comic books, resulting in significant development of the series' fictional universe. Star Wars holds a Guinness World Records title for the "Most successful film merchandising franchise". In 2018, the total value of the Star Wars franchise was estimated at US$65 billion, and it is currently the fifth-highest-grossing media franchise of all time.

Setting

George Lucas, who created the franchise, directed and wrote
Episodes I–IV, and co-wrote/produced Episodes V and VI, has limited involvement with it since 2012.

The Star Wars franchise depicts the adventures of characters "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."[4] Many species of aliens (often humanoid) co-exist with droids who may assist them in their daily routines, and space travel between planets is common due to hyperspace technology.[5][6][7] The rises and falls of different governments are chronicled throughout the saga: the democratic Galactic Republic is corrupted and overthrown by the Empire,[8] which is fought by the "Rebel" Alliance to Restore the Republic. The New Republic later rebuilds society, but the remnants of the Empire reform as the First Order and attempt to destroy the Republic.[9] Heroes of the former rebellion lead the Resistance against the oppressive dictatorship.

A mystical power known as "the Force" is described in the original film as "an energy field created by all living things. [...] [It] binds the galaxy together."[4] Those whom "the Force is strong with" have quick reflexes; through training and meditation, they are able to perform various superpowers (such as telekinesis, precognition, telepathy, and manipulation of physical energy).[10] The Force is wielded by two major knighthood orders at conflict with each other: the Jedi, who act on the light side of the Force through non-attachment and arbitration, and the Sith, who use the dark side through fear and aggression. The latter's members are intended to be limited to two: a master and their apprentice.[11][12]

Theatrical films

The Star Wars film series centers around a "trilogy of trilogies" (also referred to as the "Skywalker saga"[1] or the "Star Wars saga"). They were released out of sequence: the original (Episodes IV–VI, 1977–83), prequel (Episodes I–III, 1999–2005), and sequel (Episodes VII–IX, 2015–19) trilogy. The first two trilogies were released on three year intervals, the sequel trilogy films two years apart. Each trilogy centers on a generation of the Force-sensitive Skywalker family. The prequels focus on Anakin Skywalker, the original trilogy on his son Luke, and the sequels on Luke's nephew Kylo Ren.

A theatrical animated film, The Clone Wars (2008), was released as a pilot to a TV series of the same name. They were among the last projects overseen by George Lucas before the franchise was sold to Disney in 2012. An anthology series set between the main episodes entered development in parallel to the production of the sequel trilogy,[13] described by Disney CFO Jay Rasulo as origin stories.[14] The first entry, Rogue One (2016), tells the story of the rebels who steal the Death Star plans directly before Episode IV.[15][16] Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) focuses on Han's backstory, also featuring Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian.

An untitled trilogy by Episode VIII's director Rian Johnson has been announced, with an additional film series by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss also in development.

Skywalker saga

      Prequel trilogy       Original trilogy       Sequel trilogy

Film Release date Director Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s) Composer Initial distributor
06 01May 25, 1977 (1977-05-25) George Lucas Gary Kurtz John Williams 20th Century Fox
07 02May 21, 1980 (1980-05-21) Irvin Kershner Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan George Lucas
08 03May 25, 1983 (1983-05-25) Richard Marquand Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas Howard Kazanjian
02 04May 19, 1999 (1999-05-19) George Lucas Rick McCallum
03 05May 16, 2002 (2002-05-16) George Lucas George Lucas and Jonathan Hales George Lucas
04 06May 19, 2005 (2005-05-19) George Lucas
10 07December 18, 2015 (2015-12-18) J. J. Abrams Lawrence Kasdan & J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams and Bryan Burk Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
11 08December 15, 2017 (2017-12-15) Rian Johnson Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman
12 09December 20, 2019 (2019-12-20) J. J. Abrams J. J. Abrams & Chris Terrio[17][18] Kathleen Kennedy, J. J. Abrams
and Michelle Rejwan

Original trilogy

The central three characters of the original trilogy were played by, from left to right, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia).

In 1971, Lucas wanted to film an adaptation of the Flash Gordon serial, but couldn't obtain the rights. He began developing his own story inspired by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs.[b][19] Immediately after directing American Graffiti (1973), Lucas wrote a two-page synopsis for his space opera, titled Journal of the Whills. After United Artists, Universal Studios and Disney rejected the film, 20th Century Fox decided to invest in it.[20][21][22] Lucas felt his original story was too difficult to understand, so on April 17, 1973, he began writing a 13-page script titled The Star Wars, sharing strong similarities with Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress (1958).[23] By 1974, he had expanded the script into the first draft of a screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith and the Death Star. Subsequent drafts evolved into the script of the original film.[24]

Lucas negotiated to retain the sequel rights. Tom Pollock, then Lucas' lawyer writes: "We came to an agreement that George would retain the sequel rights. Not all the [merchandising rights] that came later, mind you; just the sequel rights. And Fox would get a first opportunity and last refusal right to make the movie."[25] Lucas was offered $50,000 to write, another $50,000 to produce, and $50,000 to direct the film.[25] The offer was later increased.[26] American Graffiti cast member Harrison Ford had given up on acting and become a carpenter whom Lucas hired for his home renovations, until Lucas decided to cast him as Han Solo.[27]

Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977. Its success led Lucas to make it the basis of an elaborate film serial.[28] With the backstory he created for the sequel, Lucas decided that the series would be a trilogy of trilogies,[29] with the original film retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope for its 1981 rerelease.[30] Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on May 25, 1983. The sequels were self-financed by Lucasfilm, and generally advertised without the episodic number distinction present in their opening crawls. The plot of the original trilogy centers on the Galactic Civil War of the Rebel Alliance trying to free the galaxy from the clutches of the Galactic Empire, as well as on Luke Skywalker's quest to become a Jedi.

Prequel trilogy

The central trio of the prequel trilogy was played by, from left to right, Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and Natalie Portman (Padmé Amidala).

According to producer Gary Kurtz, loose plans for a prequel trilogy were developed during the outlining of the original two films.[31] In 1980, Lucas confirmed that he had the nine-film series plotted,[32] but due to the stress of producing the original trilogy and pressure from his wife to settle down, he had decided to cancel further sequels by 1981.[33]

Technical advances in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the ability to create computer-generated imagery, inspired Lucas to consider that it might be possible to revisit his saga. In 1989, Lucas stated that the prequel trilogy would be "unbelievably expensive."[34] The popularity of the franchise had been prolonged by the Star Wars expanded universe, so that it still had a large audience. A theatrical rerelease "updated" the original trilogy with the style of CGI envisioned for the new films.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on May 19, 1999, and Episode II: Attack of the Clones on May 16, 2002, both to mixed reviews. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the first PG-13 film in the franchise, was released on May 19, 2005.[35] The plot of the trilogy focuses on the fall of the Galactic Republic, the formation of the Empire, as well as the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side.

Sequel trilogy

Fisher, Hamill, and Ford reprised their characters in supporting roles in the sequel trilogy.

Prior to releasing the original film, and made possible by its success, Lucas planned "three trilogies of nine films."[29][36] He announced this to Time in 1978,[37] and confirmed that he had outlined them in 1981.[38] At various stages of development, the sequels were to focus on the rebuilding of the Republic,[39] the return of Luke in a role similar to that of Obi-Wan in the original trilogy (and with a female love interest),[40][36] Luke's sister (not yet determined to be Leia),[31] Han, Leia,[41] R2-D2 and C-3PO.[29][42] However, after beginning work on the prequel trilogy, Lucas insisted that Star Wars was meant to be a six-part series and that there would be no sequel trilogy.[43][44][45] While promoting The Clone Wars in 2008, Lucas maintained his position on a sequel trilogy: "The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."[46]

The main cast of the sequel trilogy is played by, clockwise from top left, Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren).

In May 2011, Lucas and Disney CEO Bob Iger began discussing the acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney.[47] A few months later, Lucas discreetly began working on guidelines for a sequel trilogy involving "a microbiotic world" and creatures known as the Whills, Force-beings that "control the universe,"[48][49][50] although not all of his ideas would be used.[51] He later decided to leave the franchise in the hands of other filmmakers, announcing in January 2012 that he would step away from making blockbuster films. Asked whether his decision was influenced by the criticism he received regarding the prequel trilogy and the alterations to the original trilogy, Lucas said, "Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you ... and says what a terrible person you are?"[52]

In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Lucasfilm and announced that Episode VII would be released in 2015.[53] The co-chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, became president of the company, reporting to Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn. Kennedy also served as executive producer of new Star Wars feature films, with Lucas serving as creative consultant.[54] As announced by Lucasfilm, the sequel trilogy also meant the end of the existing Star Wars expanded universe, which was discarded to give "maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience."[55]

The sequel trilogy focuses on the journey of the orphaned scavenger Rey following in the footsteps of the Jedi with the guidance of the reluctant last Jedi, Luke Skywalker. Along with ex-stormtrooper Finn, she helps the Resistance led by Leia fight the First Order commanded by Supreme Leader Snoke and his pupil Kylo Ren (Han Solo and Leia's son). The Force Awakens was released on December 18, 2015, The Last Jedi on December 15, 2017, and Episode IX is due to be released on December 20, 2019.

Standalone films

In his initial planning following the success of Star Wars, Lucas planned a few standalone films separate from the Skywalker saga.[29] Theatrical films outside the main episodic series have their origin in the Ewok spin-off films Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984) and Ewoks: Battle for Endor (1985), which were screened internationally after being produced for television. Although based on story ideas from Lucas, they do not bear Star Wars in their titles, and were considered to exist in a lower level of canon than the episodic films.

After the conclusion of his then six-episode saga in 2005, Lucas continued developing spin-offs in the form of television series and theatrical films.

Film Release date Director Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s) Composer Initial distributor
01 August 15, 2008 (2008-08-15) Dave Filoni Henry Gilroy & Steven Melching & Scott Murphy George Lucas and Catherine Winder Kevin Kiner Warner Bros. Pictures
03 December 16, 2016 (2016-12-16) Gareth Edwards Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy John Knoll and Gary Whitta Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel Michael Giacchino Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
02 May 25, 2018 (2018-05-25) Ron Howard Jon Kasdan & Lawrence Kasdan John Powell
John Williams

Preceding the airing of the animated TV series in late 2008, the theatrical feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars was compiled from episodes "almost [as] an afterthought."[56][57] It reveals that Anakin trained an apprentice between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith; the series explains Padawan Ahsoka Tano's absence from the latter film. The character was originally criticized by fans, but by the end of the series the character had become a fan favorite.[58][59] It exists in the same level of canon as the episodic and anthology films.[60]

Anthology films

Before selling Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, and parallel to his development of a sequel trilogy, George Lucas and original trilogy co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan started development on a standalone film about a young Han Solo.[13] On February 5, 2013, Disney CEO Bob Iger made public the development of the Kasdan film, along with an undisclosed film written by Simon Kinberg.[61] Disney CFO Jay Rasulo has described the standalone films as origin stories.[14]

Lucasfilm and Kennedy have stated that the standalone films would be referred to as the Star Wars anthology series[15] (albeit the word anthology has not been used in any of the titles, instead carrying the promotional "A Star Wars Story" subtitle. Focused on how the rebels obtained the Death Star plans from the 1977 film, the first anthology film, Rogue One, was released on December 16, 2016 to favorable reviews and box office performance. The second, Solo: A Star Wars Story, centered on a young Han Solo with Chewbacca and Lando as supporting characters, was released on May 25, 2018 to mixed reviews and little box office success.

More anthology films are expected to be released.[62]

Spin-off series

Untitled trilogy by Rian Johnson

In November 2017, Lucasfilm announced that Rian Johnson, the writer/director of The Last Jedi, would be working on a new trilogy. The films will reportedly differ from the Skywalker-focused films in favor of focusing on new characters. Johnson is confirmed to write and direct the first film.[63]

Untitled films by Benioff and Weiss

In February 2018, it was announced that David Benioff and D. B. Weiss would write and produce a series of Star Wars films that are not Skywalker-focused films, similar to (but separate from) Rian Johnson's upcoming installments in the franchise.[64]

Television

Television films and specials

Film Release date Director(s) Screen writer(s) Network Setting Canon
Holiday Special
Holiday Special November 17, 1978 David Acomba and Steve Binder Bruce Vilanch CBS Between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back No
Ewok television films
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure November 25, 1984 John Korty Bob Carrau
Story by: George Lucas
ABC Between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi No
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor November 24, 1985 Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat
Story by: George Lucas

A two-hour Star Wars Holiday Special focusing on Chewbacca's family was produced for CBS in 1978. Along with the stars of the original film, celebrity guest stars appear in plot-related skits and musical numbers. Lucas loathed the special and forbade it to be reaired or released on home video.[65] An 11-minute animated sequence features the first appearance of bounty hunter Boba Fett.

The Ewoks from Return of the Jedi were featured in two spin-off television films, The Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Both aired on ABC on the Thanksgiving weekends of 1984 and 1985, respectively. Warwick Davis reprised his debut role as the main Ewok, Wicket, in a story by Lucas and a screenplay by Bob Carrau. Wicket helps two children rescue their parents from a giant creature.[66][67] In the sequel, the Ewoks protect their village from invaders, while a child from the first film tries to escape.[68][66][69]

Animated series

Title Seasons Episodes Release year Supervising Director Production company Network Setting Canon
Droids 1 13 1985–86 N/A Nelvana ABC Between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope No
Ewoks 2 35 1985–86 Before Return of the Jedi
Clone Wars 3 25 2003–05 Genndy Tartakovsky Cartoon Network Studios Cartoon Network Between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith
The Clone Wars 6 121 2008–2014; 2019 Dave Filoni Lucasfilm Animation Cartoon Network (Season 1–5)
Netflix (Season 6)
Disney streaming service (Season 7)
Yes
Rebels 4 75 2014–18 Dave Filoni (Season 1-2)
Justin Ridge (Season 3-4)
Disney XD Between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope
Forces of Destiny 2 32 2017– Dave Filoni YouTube Across all eras
Resistance 1 N/A 2018 Disney XD Between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens

Nelvana, the animation studio that had animated the animated segment of the Holiday Special was hired to create two animated series. Droids (1985–1986), which aired for one season on ABC, follows the adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 before the events of A New Hope.[68][70][71] Its sister series Ewoks (1985–1987) features the Ewoks before Return of the Jedi and the Ewok movies.[68][71]

Dave Filoni, supervising director on two Star Wars animated series, was later promoted to oversee the development of all future Lucasfilm Animation projects.[72]

After the release of Attack of the Clones, Cartoon Network produced and aired the micro-series Clone Wars from 2003 to weeks before the 2005 release of Revenge of the Sith, as the series featured events set between those films.[73][74] It won the Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program in 2004 and 2005.[75][76]

Lucas decided to invest in creating his own animation company, Lucasfilm Animation, and used it to create his first in-house Star Wars CGI-animated series. The Clone Wars (2008–2014) was introduced through a 2008 animated film of the same name.[77] Both were accepted to the highest level canon in 2014; all series released afterwards would also be canon.[60][78] In 2014, Disney XD began airing Star Wars Rebels, the first CGI-animated series produced in the new era. Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, it follows a band of rebels as they fight the Galactic Empire and helped close some of the arcs in The Clone Wars.[79][80][81][82] The animated microseries Star Wars Forces of Destiny debuted in 2017, focusing on the female characters of the franchise.[83] The animated series Star Wars Resistance debuted in late 2018, is anime-inspired, and focuses on a young Resistance pilot shortly before The Force Awakens.[84]

Live-action series

In November 2017, Bob Iger discussed the development of a Star Wars series for Disney's digital streaming service, due to launch in 2019.[85] It has been reported that there are multiple live-action Star Wars television series currently in development, with noteworthy talent involved.[86][87] Jon Favreau, who previously voiced a character in The Clone Wars, will produce and write one of the television series.[88] In May 2018, Favreau announced his series would be set three years after Return of the Jedi and feature motion capture.[89]

On October 3, 2018, Favreau revealed that his upcoming live-action Star Wars series would be called The Mandalorian and will follow the warrior race from which bounty hunters Jango Fett and Boba Fett were sprung, centring on a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. Favreau will write the script and act as executive producer for the series.[90][91]

In other media

From 1977 to 2014, the term Expanded Universe (EU) was an umbrella term for all officially licensed Star Wars storytelling material set outside the events depicted within the theatrical films, including novels, comics, and video games.[92] Lucasfilm maintained internal continuity between the films and television content and the EU material until April 25, 2014, when the company announced all of the EU works would cease production. Existing works would no longer be considered canon to the franchise and subsequent reprints would be rebranded under the Star Wars Legends label,[92] with downloadable content for the massively multiplayer online game The Old Republic the only Legends material to still be produced. The Star Wars canon was subsequently restructured to only include the existing six feature films, the animated film The Clone Wars (2008), and its companion animated series. All future projects and creative developments across all types of media would be overseen and coordinated by the story group, announced as a division of Lucasfilm created to maintain continuity and a cohesive vision on the storytelling of the franchise.[60] Multiple comics series from Marvel and novels published by Del Rey were produced after the announcement.

Print media

Star Wars in print predates the release of the first film, with the December 1976 novelization of Star Wars, subtitled "From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker". Credited to Lucas, it was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster.[93] The first "Expanded Universe" story appeared in Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in January 1978 (the first six issues being an adaptation of the film), followed by Foster's sequel novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye the following month.

Novels

Timothy Zahn authored the Thrawn trilogy, which was widely credited with revitalizing the dormant Star Wars franchise.

After penning the novelization of the original film, Foster followed it with the sequel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978). The novelizations of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) by Donald F. Glut and Return of the Jedi (1983) by James Kahn followed, as well as The Han Solo Adventures trilogy (1979–1980) by Brian Daley,[94] and The Adventures of Lando Calrissian (1983) trilogy by L. Neil Smith.[95][68]

Timothy Zahn's bestselling Thrawn trilogy (1991–1993) reignited interest in the franchise and introduced the popular characters Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Gilad Pellaeon.[96][97][98][99] The first novel, Heir to the Empire, reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list,[100] and the series finds Luke, Leia, and Han facing off against tactical genius Thrawn, who is plotting to retake the galaxy for the Empire.[101] In The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) by Dave Wolverton, set immediately before the Thrawn trilogy, Leia considers an advantageous political marriage to Prince Isolder of the planet Hapes, but she and Han ultimately marry.[102][103] Steve Perry's Shadows of the Empire (1996), set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, was part of a multimedia campaign that included a comic book series and video game.[104][105] The novel introduced the crime lord Prince Xizor, another popular character who would appear in multiple other works.[104][106] Other notable series from Bantam include the Jedi Academy trilogy (1994) by Kevin J. Anderson,[107][108] the 14-book Young Jedi Knights series (1995–1998) by Anderson and Rebecca Moesta,[108][109] and the X-wing series (1996–2012) by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.[110][111][112]

Del Rey took over Star Wars book publishing in 1999, releasing what would become a 19-installment novel series called The New Jedi Order (1999–2003). Written by multiple authors, the series was set 25 to 30 years after the original films and introduced the Yuuzhan Vong, a powerful alien race attempting to invade and conquer the entire galaxy.[113][114] The bestselling multi-author series Legacy of the Force (2006–2008) chronicles the crossover of Han and Leia's son Jacen Solo to the dark side of the Force; among his evil deeds, he kills Luke's wife Mara Jade as a sacrifice to join the Sith. Although no longer canon, the story is paralleled in The Force Awakens with Han and Leia's son Ben Solo, who has become the dark Kylo Ren.[115][116][117][118]

Three series set in the prequel era were introduced for younger audiences: the 18-book Jedi Apprentice (1999–2002) chronicles the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn in the years before The Phantom Menace; the 11-book Jedi Quest (2001–2004) follows Obi-Wan and his own apprentice, Anakin Skywalker in between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones; and the 10-book The Last of the Jedi (2005–2008), set almost immediately after Revenge of the Sith, features Obi-Wan and the last few surviving Jedi. Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber, released in January 2014, was the last Star Wars novel published before Lucasfilm announced the creation of the Star Wars Legends brand.[119][120][121]

Although Thrawn had been designated a Legends character in 2014, he was reintroduced into the canon in the 2016 third season of Rebels, with Zahn returning to write more novels based in the character, and set in the new canon.[122][123]

Comics

Marvel Comics published a Star Wars comic book series from 1977 to 1986.[124][125][126][127] Original Star Wars comics were serialized in the Marvel magazine Pizzazz between 1977 and 1979. The 1977 installments were the first original Star Wars stories not directly adapted from the films to appear in print form, as they preceded those of the Star Wars comic series.[128] From 1985–1987, the animated children's series Ewoks and Droids inspired comic series from Marvel's Star Comics line.[129][130][131]

In the late 1980s, Marvel dropped a new Star Wars comic it had in development, which was picked up by Dark Horse Comics and published as the popular Dark Empire series (1991–1995).[132] Dark Horse subsequently launched dozens of series set after the original film trilogy, including Tales of the Jedi (1993–1998), X-wing Rogue Squadron (1995–1998), Star Wars: Republic (1998–2006), Star Wars Tales (1999–2005), Star Wars: Empire (2002–2006), and Knights of the Old Republic (2006–2010).[133][134]

After Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, it was announced in January 2014 that in 2015 the Star Wars comics license would return to Marvel Comics,[135] whose parent company, Marvel Entertainment, Disney had purchased in 2009.[136] Launched in 2015, the first three publications were titled Star Wars, Darth Vader, and the limited series Princess Leia.[137][138][139]

Audio dramas

Radio adaptations of the films were also produced. Lucas, a fan of the NPR-affiliated campus radio station of his alma mater the University of Southern California, licensed the Star Wars radio rights to KUSC-FM for US$1. The production used John Williams' original film score, along with Ben Burtt's sound effects.[140][141]

The first was written by science fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden. It was broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981, adapting the original 1977 film into 13-episodes.[142][140][141] Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels reprised their film roles.[142][140]

The overwhelming success, led to a 10-episode adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back debuted in 1983.[143] Billy Dee Williams joined the other two stars, reprising his role as Lando Calrissian.[144]

In 1983, Buena Vista Records released an original, 30-minute Star Wars audio drama titled Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell, written by Daley.[141][145] In the 1990s, Time Warner Audio Publishing adapted several Star Wars series from Dark Horse Comics into audio dramas: the three-part Dark Empire saga, Tales of the Jedi, Dark Lords of the Sith, the Dark Forces trilogy, and Crimson Empire (1998).[145] Return of the Jedi was adapted into 6-episodes in 1996, featuring Daniels.[140][145]

Video games

The first officially licensed Star Wars electronic game was Kenner's 1979 table-top Star Wars Electronic Battle Command.[146][147] In 1982, Parker Brothers published the first Star Wars video game for the Atari 2600, The Empire Strikes Back.[148] It was followed in 1983 by Atari's rail shooter arcade game Star Wars, which used vector graphics and was based on the Death Star trench run scene from the 1977 film.[149] The next game, Return of the Jedi (1984), used more traditional raster graphics,[150] with the following game The Empire Strikes Back (1985) returning to vector graphics.[151]

Star Wars was released for Nintendo in 1991, followed by a sequel the next year. Super Star Wars was also released in 1992, followed by two sequels over the next two years.

Lucasfilm had started its own video game company in 1982, becomong known for adventure games and World War II flight combat games. In 1993, LucasArts released Star Wars: X-Wing, the first self-published Star Wars video game and the first space flight simulation based on the franchise.[152] It was one of the best-selling games of 1993, and established its own series of games.[152] The Rogue Squadron series released between 1998 and 2003 also focused on space battles set during the films.

Dark Forces (1995), a hybrid adventure game incorporating puzzles and strategy,[153] was the first Star Wars first-person shooter.[154] It featured gameplay and graphical features not then common in other games, made possible by LucasArts' custom-designed game engine, the Jedi.[154][153][155][156] The game was well received,[157][158][159] and followed by four sequels.[160][161] The series introduced Kyle Katarn, who would appear in multiple games, novels, and comics.[162] Katarn is a former stormtrooper who joins the rebellion and becomes a Jedi,[154][163][164] a plot arc similar to that of Finn in The Force Awakens.[115]

A massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Star Wars Galaxies, was in operation from 2003 until 2011. Disney partnered with Lenovo to create the augmented reality game Jedi Challenges, released in November 2017.[165][166] In August 2018, it was announced that Zynga would publish free-to-play Star Wars mobile games.[167]

Merchandising

The success of the Star Wars films led the franchise to become one of the most merchandised franchises in the world. While filming the original 1977 film, George Lucas decided to take a $500,000 pay cut to his salary as director in exchange for full ownership of the franchise's merchandising rights. The first six films produced approximately US$20 billion in merchandising revenue.[26]

Kenner made the first Star Wars action figures to coincide with the release of the film, and today the original figures are highly valuable. Since the 1990s, Hasbro holds the rights to create action figures based on the saga. Pez dispensers have been produced.[168] Star Wars was the first intellectual property to be licensed in Lego history, which has produced a Star Wars Lego theme.[169] Lego has produced animated parody short films and comedy mini-series to promote their sets.[170] The Lego Star Wars video games are critically acclaimed best sellers.[171][172]

In 1977 the board game Star Wars: Escape from the Death Star was released,[173] not to be confused with the board game with the same name published in 1990.[174] A Star Wars Monopoly and themed versions of Trivial Pursuit and Battleship were released in 1997, with updated versions released in subsequent years. The board game Risk has been adapted in two editions by Hasbro: The Clone Wars Edition (2005)[175] and the Original Trilogy Edition (2006).[176] Three Star Wars tabletop role-playing games have been developed: a version by West End Games in the 1980s and 1990s, one by Wizards of the Coast in the 2000s, and one by Fantasy Flight Games in the 2010s.

Star Wars trading cards have been published since the first "blue" series, by Topps, in 1977.[177] Dozens of series have been produced, with Topps being the licensed creator in the United States. Some of the card series are of film stills, while others are original art. Many of the cards have become highly collectible with some very rare "promos", such as the 1993 Galaxy Series II "floating Yoda" P3 card often commanding US$1,000 or more. While most "base" or "common card" sets are plentiful, many "insert" or "chase cards" are very rare.[178] From 1995 until 2001, Decipher, Inc. had the license for, created and produced a collectible card game based on Star Wars; the Star Wars Collectible Card Game (also known as SWCCG).

Multimedia projects

Shadows of the Empire (1996) was a multimedia project set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that included a novel by Steve Perry, a comic book series, a video game, and action figures.[104][105] The Force Unleashed (2008–2010) was a similar project set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope that included a novel, a 2008 video game and its 2010 sequel, a graphic novel, a role-playing game supplement, and toys.[179][180]

Theme park attractions

In addition to the Disneyland ride Star Tours (1987) and its renovation as Star Tours – The Adventures Continue (2011), many live attractions have been held at Disney parks, including the traveling exhibition Where Science Meets Imagination, the Space Mountain spin-off Hyperspace Mountain, a walkthrough Launch Bay, and the nighttime A Galactic Spectacular. An immersive themed area called Galaxy's Edge is planned for Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2019,[181] and a themed hotel will open at Walt Disney World in mid-2019.[182]

Title Park(s) Opening date Closing date Status
Live attractions
Star Tours Disneyland January 9, 1987 (1987-01-09) July 27, 2010 (2010-07-27) Closed
Tokyo Disneyland July 12, 1989 (1989-07-12) April 2, 2012 (2012-04-02)
Disney's Hollywood Studios December 15, 1989 (1989-12-15) September 7, 2010 (2010-09-07)
Disneyland Paris April 12, 1992 (1992-04-12) March 16, 2016 (2016-03-16)
Star Wars Weekends Disney's Hollywood Studios 1997 (1997) 2015 (2015)
Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination Multiple locations October 19, 2005 (2005-10-19) March 23, 2014 (2014-03-23)
Jedi Training Academy Disneyland July 1, 2006 (2006-19-01) November 15, 2015 (2015-11-15)
Disney's Hollywood Studios October 9, 2007 (2007-10-09) October 5, 2015 (2015-10-05)
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue Disney's Hollywood Studios May 20, 2011 (2011-05-20) Operating
Disneyland June 3, 2011 (2011-06-03)
Tokyo Disneyland May 7, 2013 (2013-05-07)
Disneyland Paris March 26, 2017 (2017-03-26)
Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain Disneyland November 14, 2015 (2015-11-14) May 31, 2017 (2017-05-31) Closed
Hong Kong Disneyland June 11, 2016 (2016-06-11) Operating
Disneyland Paris May 7, 2017 (2017-05-07)
Star Wars Launch Bay Disneyland November 16, 2015 (2015-11-16)
Disney's Hollywood Studios December 4, 2015 (2015-12-04)
Shanghai Disneyland Park June 16, 2016 (2016-06-16)
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple Disney's Hollywood Studios December 1, 2015 (2015-12-01)
Disneyland December 8, 2015 (2015-12-08)
Disneyland Paris July 11, 2015 (2015-07-11)
Hong Kong Disneyland June 25, 2016 (2016-06-25)
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Disney's Hollywood Studios June 17, 2016 (2016-06-17)

Themes

Aside from its well-known science fictional technology, Star Wars features elements such as knighthood, chivalry, and princesses that are related to archetypes of the fantasy genre.[183] The Star Wars world, unlike science fiction that features sleek and futuristic settings, is portrayed as dirty and grimy. Lucas' vision of a "used future" was further popularized in the science fiction films Alien,[184] which was set on an aged space freighter; Mad Max 2, which is set in a post-apocalyptic desert; and Blade Runner, which is set in a crumbling, dystopian city of the future. Lucas made a conscious effort to parallel scenes and dialogue between films, and especially the journey of Anakin Skywalker in the prequels with that of his son Luke.[11]

Comparisons with historical events

Political science has been an important element of Star Wars since the franchise launched in 1977, focusing on a struggle between democracy and dictatorship. McQuarrie's designs for Darth Vader, initially inspired by Samurai armor, also incorporated a German military helmet.[185][186] Space battles in A New Hope were based on World War I and World War II dogfights[187] and stormtroopers share a name with Nazi stormtroopers. Imperial officer uniforms resemble German uniforms of World War II and the political and security officers resemble the black-clad SS down to the stylized silver death's head on their caps. World War II terms were used for names in the films; e.g. the planets Kessel (a term that refers to a group of encircled forces) and Hoth (Hermann Hoth was a German general who served on the snow-laden Eastern Front).[188]

Palpatine being a chancellor before becoming the Emperor in the prequel trilogy alludes to Adolf Hitler's role as chancellor before appointing himself Führer. Lucas has also drawn parallels to historical dictators such as Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte.[189] The Great Jedi Purge mirrors the events of the Great Purge, the Cultural Revolution, and the Night of the Long Knives. The climax of Revenge of the Sith is modeled after the fall of the democratic Roman Republic and the formation of an empire.[190][191][192]

On the inspiration for the First Order formed "from the ashes of the Empire", The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams spoke of conversations the writers had about how the Nazis could have escaped to Argentina after WWII and "started working together again."[9]

Cultural impact

The lightsaber and the blaster have become an iconic part of the franchise and have appeared throughout popular culture.

The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on popular culture,[193] with references to its fictional universe deeply embedded in everyday life.[194] Phrases like "evil empire" and "May the Force be with you" have become part of the popular lexicon.[195] The first Star Wars film in 1977 was a cultural unifier,[196] enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people.[197] The film can be said to have helped launch the science fiction boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, making science fiction films a blockbuster genre and mainstream.[198] The widespread impact made it a prime target for parody works and homages, with popular examples including Hardware Wars, Spaceballs, The Family Guy Trilogy, Robot Chicken: Star Wars, and its sequels Star Wars – Episode II and Star Wars – Episode III.

In 1989, the Library of Congress selected the original Star Wars film for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[199] The Empire Strikes Back, was selected in 2010.[200][201] 35mm reels of the 1997 Special Editions were the versions presented for preservation because of the difficulty of transferring from the original prints.[202][203]

Industry

The original Star Wars film was a huge success for 20th Century Fox, and was credited for reinvigorating the company. Within three weeks of the film's release, the studio's stock price doubled to a record high. Prior to 1977, 20th Century Fox's greatest annual profits were $37 million, while in 1977, the company broke that record by posting a profit of $79 million.[187] The franchise helped Fox to change from an almost bankrupt production company to a thriving media conglomerate.[204]

Star Wars fundamentally changed the aesthetics and narratives of Hollywood films, switching the focus of Hollywood-made films from deep, meaningful stories based on dramatic conflict, themes and irony to sprawling special-effects-laden blockbusters, as well as changing the Hollywood film industry in fundamental ways. Before Star Wars, special effects in films had not appreciably advanced since the 1950s.[205] The commercial success of Star Wars created a boom in state-of-the-art special effects in the late 1970s.[204] Along with Jaws, Star Wars started the tradition of the summer blockbuster film in the entertainment industry, where films open on many screens at the same time and profitable franchises are important.[206][197] It created the model for the major film trilogy and showed that merchandising rights on a film could generate more money than the film itself did.[196]

Fan works

The Star Wars saga has inspired many fans to create their own non-canon material set in the Star Wars galaxy. In recent years, this has ranged from writing fan fiction to creating fan films. In 2002, Lucasfilm sponsored the first annual Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, officially recognizing filmmakers and the genre. Because of concerns over potential copyright and trademark issues, however, the contest was initially open only to parodies, mockumentaries, and documentaries. Fan fiction films set in the Star Wars universe were originally ineligible, but in 2007, Lucasfilm changed the submission standards to allow in-universe fiction entries.[207] Lucasfilm has allowed but not endorsed the creation of fan fiction, as long as it does not attempt to make a profit.[208]

Academia

As the characters and the storyline of the original trilogy are so well known, educators have used the films in the classroom as a learning resource. For example, a project in Western Australia honed elementary school students storytelling skills by role-playing action scenes from the movies and later creating props and audio/visual scenery to enhance their performance.[209] Others have used the films to encourage second-level students to integrate technology in the science classroom by making prototype lightsabers.[210] Similarly, psychiatrists in New Zealand and the US have advocated their use in the university classroom to explain different types of psychopathology.[211][212]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Although Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, the film's novelization, came out in November 1976.
  2. ^ Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond had been influenced by John Carter of Mars in particular.

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Bibliography

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Further reading

External links