By Albert Thai Le
It’s been over 40 years since the release of “A New Hope” set the Star Wars universe into motion for the whole world to witness. Since then, Star Wars has ventured into a variety of mediums outside of the film franchise that have entertained, inspired, and educated veteran and novice fans alike.
For instance, there have been a series of television shows to expand the lore of the Star Wars universe outside of movies. In more recent years, we have seen the animated and CG versions of “The Clone Wars” (2003-2005, 2008-2014) that offered a series of adventures to expand the lore and provide more depth to the characters of the prequel trilogy. Eventually, Disney followed the same route with “Rebels” (2014-present) by creating a new story leading up to “A New Hope.” In addition, Disney released “Forces of Destiny,” a series of short animated episodes showcasing the women of Star Wars to serve as role models of strength and pride for the newest generation of female fans.
There are also books and comics ranging from a variety of authors, artists, and studios that target both young and mature fans fascinated with stories from any period in the Star Wars universe. While there are works providing print adaptations released alongside each movie, there are books such as “Darth Plagueis” by James Luceno, “The Old Republic: Revan” by Drew Karpyshyn, and the Darth Bane series, also by Karpyshyn, all of which provide more lore to topics and characters briefly mentioned within and outside the film series.
Alongside the print and televised representations, there are video games which attempt to capture the action and spirit of the films for gamers of all different backgrounds and preferences. For instance, there are first-person shooter games such as the Battlefront series, ranging back from the classics starting in 2004 to last year’s remake of the 2005 version, that are released and updated with content in coordination with recent films, such as the new “Last Jedi” expansion to Battlefront II (2017). In addition, there are the Lego adaptations of the Star Wars films that added a fun and goofy perspective into reimagining the movies. There’s even a Star Wars pod racing game that you might remember playing on the Nintendo 64, or during an outing to an arcade like Dave and Busters.
Of course, there are video games that happen to be more story-driven, such as the “Knights of the Old Republic” franchise, a series which takes place about 4,000 years before the original trilogy. Praised for its impressive qualities such as complex narratives, mature storytelling, and rich characters which rival those of the original trilogy, the Old Republic game series has been a favorite for the more hardcore Star Wars fans to adore, which was a shame for them when the Old Republic no longer remained canon after Disney bought Lucasfilm and Lucasarts and removed a large chunk of the previously established lore. However, there is some hope among fans of the series for the revival of the Old Republic era in future years.
While Star Wars grew to become a major cultural icon over time, the franchise has been open to parodies inspired by the premises within this universe. For instance, we have film parodies such as “Spaceballs” (1987) taking influence from the original trilogy. There are also television shows such as Family Guy and Robot Chicken that provided episodes satirizing and toying with the Star Wars universe. There’s even a song by Weird Al Yankovic titled “The Saga Begins” (1999) which mixes the beat of Don McLean’s “American Pie” to the plot of “The Phantom Menace” (1999). Whether or not these parodies do justice in representing the Star Wars narrative, they add some lighthearted or raunchy humor to an epic saga in a way which makes it more enjoyable to an even broader audience exposed to this universe.
Like many great series, Star Wars has grown to become a distinguishable title and has inspired lifelong fans to create artwork, cosplays, short films and more out of love for the franchise, no matter which generation they grew up with. Hopefully, this continuous enjoyment and commitment to the franchise and its legacy will last for generations to come.