There are many iconic things about Star Wars; Darth Vader, X-Wings, and the phrases “I know” and “So be it, Jedi” quickly come to mind.
Outside the film reel, the original Star Wars poster has become a cultural icon and those posters that have followed have also slipped into pop culture lore.
Here's a brief look at some of the official and teaser posters for the Star Wars movies. It's not a full and comprehensive list by any means, but it's still a fun look at a major part of the franchise's success. Enjoy!
A New Hope
Transcending the film itself, the original poster (on the left) has become the gold standard for how a movie poster can be designed.
What most people won’t realize is that the poster itself was inspired by classic film posters from the Hollywood era of the 1930s.
Tom Yung had design duties on the original poster. A seasoned designer prior to his Star Wars gig, he’d done some high-profile poster design work for films such as Papillion, The Towering Inferno, and The Omen. Tasked with the Star Wars work, he was given access to stills of the film and photos taken during product and given a brief of coming up with a design that demonstrated “good over evil.” The rest is history.
While two of the posters portray Leia and Luke as sexed-up heroes, the drama and fear of the movie are clear in the work.
The Empire Strikes Back
Yung’s success meant he was chosen to carry on for the sequel The Empire Strikes Back. This time Yung took a trick from his 1967 re-release poster of Gone with the Wind. Again Vader looms large, this time over Leia and Han – which is fitting given their story in the film.
Yung also designed a “B” poster – a classic vista of Darth Vader in a more action-adventure pose suggesting that Vader was weighing into the story even further this time around. Buy it here on Amazon.
Several other posters were also published. The one of Vader on the top left was sent as a teaser poster to movie theatres. By the time Empire's release date was rolling around, Darth Vader was a big enough character to be used to entice people back for the sequel.
The Revenge and Return of the Jedi
Return of the Jedi saw Drew Struzan get a chance at doing a Star Wars poster.
This was an interesting time as Struzan’s poster has become the stuff of legend because George Lucas decided to change the name of the movie very late in the piece. Return of the Jedi was originally going to be called Revenge of the Jedi and so Struzan had prepared the now legendary teaser poster for the film of that name.
As is now customary for a Star Wars poster, the shadow of Vader looms large (by this time Star Wars had actually become the story of Darth Vader, so that makes sense).
The poster was recalled after George Lucas decided that a Jedi would not seek let alone feel the need for revenge.
|Special Edition posters of the Original Trilogy|
The teaser poster on the top left featuring the blue saber was by Tim Reamer.
Legend has it that the hands on the saber are those of George Lucas. We doubt it, though…
The Prequels Posters
Drew Struzan was now a favored artist of Lucasfilm and he did the official poster which was used in over 60 countries. He managed to complete the trifecta as his work was used again for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were among the only official posters to not feature an image of Darth Vader (same for The Force Awakens), he of course returned for Revenge of the Sith.
The Force Awakens
The posters obviously also introduced the three new main characters and set up the battle between Rey and Kyo Ren quite nicely as their weapons of choice parallel one another.
You can purchase The Force Awakens poster from Amazon here.
The Last Jedi
The beauty of Star Wars being so universally loved is that the movie's posters also get the chance to have a “foreign” touch, in the sense that individual countries get to produce their own posters. Here are three great ones – see if you can work out which one is Hungarian…