Star Wars Movie Posters – As Iconic as the Movies Themselves

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 by Struzan
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…

That poster of Leia featuring her golden bikini was by Kazuhiko Sano.
The “Return to a galaxy, far, far, away” poster was by Tom Yung once more. Note the spoiler of the Death Star II blowing up! Not cool, poster from the 1980s.
Struzan was called back to do brand new posters for all three original trilogy films when they were re-released as special editions in the mid-1990s.

The Prequels Posters 

The teaser poster for The Phantom Menace was quite a brilliant design effort. Featuring the young Anakin Skywalker on the planet of Tattooine, the shadow he caused was unmistakably that of Darth Vader, the figure he was to become. This poster succinctly gave the prospective viewer all the information they needed to know about this movie.

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 official The Force Awakens promotional poster was produced by Bryan Morton. It has the classic elements of Star Wars – those being Han and Leia at the center, X-Wings and Tie Fighters having a go at each other (check the above posters, the ships are everywhere), and drawn lightsabers.

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.

Rogue One

The Last Jedi

International Posters

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…

They all are apparently!  They were created by Tibor Helényi, a Hungarian painter.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Editor in Chief at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Paul Rose Jr is the Editor in Chief of Wealth of Geeks & manages the Associated Press program for The Insiders network. He has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for InfuzeMag and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing or editing on Wealth of Geeks, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.