Articles

A Visual History Of Star Wars Saga Posters

by . October 22nd, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be hitting the theaters this December. I can’t get wait to see Jar Jar Binks back on the big screen.

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Meesa thinks yousa should no said dat!

Now that I have your attention… October is ending and in a few weeks, we’ll have the latest installment of the Star Wars saga now helmed by lens flare extraordinaire J. J. Abrams, taking over from creator George Lucas.

Frankly, I’m excited.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set 30 years after the original (and the only relevant) trilogy with a new cast of characters alongside returning characters. We get to see what happened to Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke after the deaths of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

New characters present in the film include Rey, a scavenger from the desert planet Jakk, and Finn, a stormtrooper in the First Order who will take on the episode’s big bad Kylo Ren, set to continue what Darth Vader as started.

But the thing is, there is no Luke in the official poster.

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Or is there?

Hold on to your tinfoil hats, young padawans. Before we create our own crackpot theory (a corrupted Luke out to continue his Father’s work?), let’s go back in time for a short visual history of the Star Wars posters.

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The first Star Wars movie poster was made by designer Tom Jung. Early in his career, he was a freelance art director for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer doing roadshow posters for movies such as Dr. Zhivago.

In 1977, he was commissioned by Lucasfilms Ltd to work on the movie poster with the theme “Good over Evil”.  The “space opera” poster features an unintentional cross made by Vader and Luke’s lightsaber as well as a logo mimicking the crawling opening narration of the movie.

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The theatrical poster of Empire Strikes Back was done by Roger Kastel. Kastel was a book illustrator including the cover for the book Jaws by Bantam Books. Universal Studios used the same cover for their movie adaptation. His original Jaws poster is currently missing.

Kastel incorporated George Lucas’ love for the film Gone With The Wind and built the poster highlighting the romance between Han Solo and Princess Leia. It also features Luke riding a tauntaun.

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The late illustrator Kazuhiko Sano created the poster for Return of the Jedi.  He was a native of Tokyo and created illustrations for National Geographic, the Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures, Chevron, Coca Cola and General Electric.

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The artist responsible for the special edition posters for the original trilogy, Drew Struzan, was tasked by Lucas to create the posters for the prequel trilogy. Struzan has previously worked on the posters for Blade Runner and Back to the Future.

Lucas stated that Struzan’s poster was the only art the foreign distributors could use and cannot be modified other than the text. The poster shows Darth Maul looming over the entire cast of characters which looked awesome, until you see the film’s treatment of the villain.

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Struzan was again the designer of this poster which is an obvious homage to the original Gone with the Wind poster for Empire Strikes Back.

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The final poster for Revenge of the Sith again by Struzan doesn’t shy from telling story of the transformation of Anakin to the original trilogy’s villain, Darth Vader.

For comparison, here’s the official poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens which according to Lucasfilm rep Matt Martin was not made by Struzan.

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BONUS

The release of the poster spawned numerous parodies from graphic designers around the web. Check out some of them:

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(via Macro Lego Universe)

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(via /u/stealingyourpixels)

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 Ooh mooey mooey I love you! (via Olly Gibbs)

I apologize for the last one.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be in theaters December 18.

Which one is your favorite Star Wars poster? Comment below!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.

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