Star Wars #1 (Marvel Comics) Homage Covers
Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas, and starring Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Cushing (Governor Tarkin), Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi), David Prowse (character of Darth Vader), James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader), Anthony Daniels (C3-PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). The film was released simply as Star Wars but later retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope to map its place within the Star Wars saga envisioned by George Lucas. Star Wars was the first in the franchise to be produced, followed by The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) in 1980 and Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) in 1983. By 2019, this original trilogy would be framed by Episodes 1-3 and 7-9.
Lucas, a budding director, conceived of a science-fiction film in the vein of Flash Gordon around the time he completed his first film, THX 1138 (1971) and began working on the script after the release of American Graffiti (1973). Star Wars is about the journey of young Luke Skywalker, who — along with Han Solo, a handsome smuggler, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Master-turned hermit — rescue Princess Leia, leader of the Rebel Alliance, from the far-reaching clutches of the evil Galactic Empire and a powerful Sith Lord, Darth Vader. In the film’s finale, our heroes, with the help of the combined forces of the Rebel Alliance, destroy the Empire’s monstrous Death Star, a moon-sized space station capable of obliterating a planet.
Star Wars was released in a limited number of theaters in the United States on May 25, 1977, and quickly became a blockbuster hit, leading to its much wider release. The film received critical acclaim, most notably for its groundbreaking visual effects, and grossed a total of $775 million, surpassing Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film of the decade. Star Wars received ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and received the nod for seven of them. In 1989, the U.S. Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” At this time, it was the most recent film listed in the registry, and the only film to be chosen from the 1970s. In 2004, the film’s popular soundtrack — it received Grammy awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance, Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, and Best Instrumental Composition — was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry.
Disney, the entertainment and marketing behemoth, acquired the Star Wars franchise in 2012 with its purchase of LucasFilm. Disney, who produced and released four Star Wars films since the purchase, recouped its $4 billion investment in LucasFilm by 2018 — just 6 short years.
Today, Star Wars remains one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures. The film is a phenomenon of popular culture, its characters and soundtrack recognizable around the world. The Star Wars series of films launched a global brand of products, including novels, comic books, video games, amusement park attractions, and merchandise such as toys, games, clothing and many, many others.