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Things Star Wars Ripped Off From Other Movies

Star Wars is cemented in pop culture as a classic film series, and don't get us wrong, they're excellent films—well, some trilogies more than others—but no one ever said they were wholly original. And it turns out our friend Mr. George Lucas maybe borrowed a few ideas here and there from other movies. Call it an homage if you like.

The Entire Idea Was Supposed To Be Flash Gordon

George Lucas' original plan in the 1970s was not to make Star Wars; it was to make Flash Gordon. However, when he wasn't able to license Gordon, he borrowed heavily from Gordon to come up with his new space opera. While Flash Gordon featured the prince and Flash disguised as enemy soldiers to enter the evil Emperor's fortress, Star Wars has Han and Luke dressed as Stormtroopers. And instead of Ming the Merciless, he gave audiences Darth Vader and his evil planet the Death Star, as opposed to Ming's Mongo.

Flash Gordon and Star Wars both include a sexy space princess, a big, hairy animal man, a sky city run by an ally with dubious loyalty, space dogfights, and even the opening text crawl. In a nutshell, Star Wars really pulled homage as far as it could.

Darth Vader's Costume

Way back in 1938, there was a little sci-fi serial called The Fighting Devil Dogs about a pair of Marines who uncover a plot by an evil villain called the Lightning to take over the world with his insane, lightning-based weaponry. The Lightning kills the father of one of the Marines and makes the fight all too personal. Can anyone stop the Lighting? Well, go watch if you want to find out, and at the same time you can see where Darth Vader got his cool fashion sense. Vader's iconic costume is an updated and somewhat cooler-looking version of the armor worn by the villainous Lightning through the serial.

C3PO, R2D2, Obi-Wan, And Princess Amidala

If you're not familiar with the films of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, you should totally queue some of his work up on Netflix. He's influential for a reason and his movies are brilliant. And if you get a chance, check out Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, which begins with a pair of very C3P0 and R2D2-esque peasants escaping a battle just as the droids do in the beginning of Star Wars. Later, both films introduce a battle-hardened general who works with a princess in a rebellion: that's Obi-Wan in Star Wars and Rokurota Makabe in The Hidden Fortress. And that same general has to square off against an old rival from their past, as well.

Elsewhere in Hidden Fortress, we find a princess who employs the use of decoys, using a slave as her stand in very much the way Amidala uses her handmaiden Padme as a decoy in The Phantom Menace. And just for kicks, Kurosawa used the jarring and very noticeable horizontal wipe transitions all the time in his movie, just like Lucas chose to do very frequently throughout the series.

The Pod Race

Remember the kind of goofy podrace from Phantom Menace? The one featuring lil' Anakin Vader and a motley crew of space cartoon characters? It's worth a second look, especially if you're a fan of Charlton Heston or just those classic Biblical epics. Near the end of the race when the tension is high and Sebulba is neck and neck with Anakin, the entire sequence is almost an exact shot for shot remake of the chariot racing scene from Heston's Ben Hur, when Messala accidentally locks wheels with Ben Hur, only in this case Sebulba locks...er, pod engines.

The End Of Yoda

Frank Capra's Lost Horizon is the tale of a group of plane crash survivors who find themselves in Shangri-La with the followers of the mysterious High Llama, a wise old fellow who talks funny and is just bursting with information and knowledge. The place is wonderful, everyone loves it and learns a lot. But alas, the llama is very old and after imparting his final wisdom he must pass on from this life. Sound a little familiar? Indeed, it seems that Yoda was inspired by the High Llama so much so that both characters have nearly identical death scenes.

Jabba The Hutt

As hard as it may be to believe, giant space slug Jabba the Hutt is not a wholly original creation and, in fact, he was inspired by one of the most classic films in Hollywood history. Jabba, as you should know, is an intergalactic crime lord in charge of a lot of illicit shenanigans throughout the Republic. Slavery, gambling, smuggling—all of these were part of Jabba's criminal empire and all of it kind of reflects Casablanca, the den of scum and villainy where Humphrey Bogart is looking out for number one and determined not to take sides, even though he may be a good guy after all. Sounds a bit like Han Solo, huh?

Jabba, as it happens, is loosely based on Casablanca's Signor Ferrari, the affable fat man who runs all of Casablanca's criminal underworld. Word has it that there is even concept art for Jabba that featured him wearing Ferrari's signature fez. Jabba might be fatter and more awful than Ferrari, but as the prequel trilogy shows, Jabba was once well-respected and even liked by the people of Tatooine. Maybe a crime lord, but one that everyone enjoyed having around.

Boba Fett

Ever think while watching the original trilogy that Boba Fett would make a hell of a cowboy? If you don't, you may want to watch the movies again and pay close attention to the bounty hunter's body language and movements. According to Jeremy Bulloch, the man inside the Mandalorian armor, he based his entire portrayal of Fett on Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

If you watch the Sergio Leone western with Boba Fett in mind and Star Wars with Eastwood in mind, you'll see the same conservation of movement in both characters: they move slowly, purposefully, and only when necessary, as though they were part of the background until they need to spring into action. They're cool under pressure and you probably don't want to mess with either one. This gets a nod in the prequel trilogy when Jango Fett holsters his gun by spinning it in classic Clint style.

Cad Bane

If you're not familiar with the animated series The Clone Wars, you may not be familiar with bounty hunter Cad Bane. But you can't reference Boba Fett and his ties to Clint Eastwood and then not mention Cade Bane, who literally dresses like a cowboy with leather hat and six shooters and, according to Pablo Hidalgo, a man behind a ton of the Star Wars universe, George Lucas specifically mentioned Lee Van Cleef's character Angel Eyes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly when they designed him.