Clearly a fan of classic pulp sci-fi, George Lucas shamelessly plundered from all of his favourite sources for not only the three movies of the original Star Wars trilogy, but the three prequels as well, with nods to Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Edgar Rice Burroughs …Of Mars series aplenty across the saga.
With 2012 promising not just an adaptation of the first Barsoom volume, 1917’s A Princess Of Mars as John Carter, but also the re-release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in glorious 3D, let’s examine the six most obvious examples of the former’s influence on the latter – from words George Lucas just liked the sound of, to whole scenes and concepts he plundered to construct his love-letter to the golden age of adventure.
Obviously this doesn’t diminish the greatness of the original Star Wars trilogy, but with the internet awash with people claiming John Carter is “ripping off Star Wars“, it’s worth reminding them that if anything, it’s the other way around…
1. That gold bikini
This can’t be anything other than a deliberate tip of the hat, Leia’s gold bikini from 1981’s Return Of The Jedi is clearly inspired by the skimpy outfits of Dejah Thoris, the Princess Of Mars herself, depicted in the Seventies Marvel comics (as above, obliging chained up for added similarity on the cover of Warlord Of Mars issue 11, April 1978) or lurid Frank Frazetta book covers. Oh, and they’re both princesses, obviously.
Great beasts of burden, Bantha are found on Tatooine in the Star Wars universe – in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories, Banths are lion-like carnivores that hunt the low hills of Mars.
3. The Sith
An ancient and mysterious order of Dark Side Force Users of whom Darth Vader and Darth Maul are members, over in Barsoom the Sith are large predatory insects that have been hunted to the brink of extinction.
4. Jabba’s sail barge
Jabba The Hutt’s armada of luxury flying platforms, skimming low across the surface of Tatooine wouldn’t look out of place in Edgar Rice Burroughs books – the Martians use gravity-defying ‘flying boats’ to zip across the Mars’ otherworldly deserts as depicted above on the 1973 Ballantine Books edition of second book The Gods Of Mars.
5. Coliseum battle
Attack Of The Clones’ Jedi versus monsters in the great red rock arena of Geonosis has clearly been cribbed directly from the battle with the white ape in A Princess Of Mars, even the pics from Disney’s John Carter (above) look eerily similar. Although, both scenarios were stolen from Ancient Rome so perhaps Edgar Rice Burroughs’ supporters should just let that one go.
6. The Jedi
Another noise George clearly liked to hear rattling around in his eardrum, the monarchs of Mars are called Jed (king), Jeddak (emperor) and Jeddara (empress) – it’s worth noting that in Barsoom a padwar is a low-ranking officer.