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The Stanley Kubrick Easter Egg In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Even Hardcore Fans Miss

Even after 40 years, the landscape of science fiction is indebted to the original Star Wars. The film's 1977 release and its enormous box office success, proved that science fiction could be appealing to general audiences. To this day, the appeal of Star Wars sets a standard for film production at Disney and elsewhere. Although Star Wars is a pop culture phenomenon, it wasn't the first movie to tell a story set in space. 

Like every legendary film, Star Wars had plenty of inspiration, including Stanley Kubrick's seminal film 2001: A Space OdysseyAlthough it's a much less commercial film than Star Wars, it's still celebrated today as one of the best science fiction films ever made, and you can find references to the Kubrick movie in everything from Star Wars to more intimate, small-scale works of science fiction. 

Given the influence that 2001 had on Star Wars, it makes sense that George Lucas decided to pay homage to the film when he started a new trilogy of Star Wars movies in the late 1990s. You'll need a good eye to spot this Easter egg in The Phantom Menace

The EVA Pod is in The Phantom Menace

When Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) meets Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) on Tatooine, he also meets Watto, the junk trader who owns Anakin and his mother. As Qui-Gon bargains for scrap parts in the hopes of getting Queen Amidala's royal ship off the planet, he gets a brief tour of Watto's many wares. If you look carefully, you can see that one of Watto's pieces of junk is the EVA pod that plays a prominent role in 2001

In one sequence from 2001, we see two humans pilot two separate EVAs. The first is lost when HAL 9000, the artificial intelligence on board the ship, uses it to kill the ship's co-pilot. The second ship sticks around until the film's climax, when another human takes the EVA through a monolith that's appeared near Jupiter. 

The EVAs are a brilliant piece of design, and because of Kubrick's precise direction, they almost feel like fully developed characters. Lucas' homage to them is a clear nod to the influence that 2001 had on his career as a director. The clean, sterile designs of 2001 are the opposite of the beaten, dirty aesthetic favored by the early Star Wars films. However, it's hard to deny that the design of the EVAs played some role in what Lucas thought his own science fiction world should look like.