What if Star Wars was never made?

Star Wars. The first ever summer blockbuster. The original Star Wars has had such a huge impact on the entertainment industry, it’s hard to imagine a world where it was never made. If you will though, let’s embark on that train of thought and see where it leads us.

Star Wars was the flick that convinced the film industry that blockbuster action flicks were viable. It’s the film that birthed the modern special effects industry, made on a surprisingly low budget. It’s a miracle that it was ever produced in the first place, there being absolutely no precedent on a comparable scale for the sort of thing. 

First, let’s talk about what the film industry would look like today without it. What the absence of Star Wars would mean for Hollywood as a whole is anyone’s guess. Maybe some other franchise would take the place of Star Wars and this whole thought experiment is a fool’s errand. For the sake of science, however, let’s just roll with the assumption that if the removal of Star Wars from history makes the most impact that it can.

Without Star Wars, it’s unlikely that a lot of sci-fi and action franchises ever got the green light. This probably means we’d have no Alien, Terminator, Die Hard, Indiana Jones. Star Wars was responsible for pioneering the use of the infamous Monomyth (or the Hero’s Journey) in the trilogy blockbuster film format. Without it, seminal films such as The Matrix, the Lord of the Rings, etc. might never have been made. Tolkien’s works would still have been seminal, but without the groundbreaking Lord of the Rings trilogy, fantasy as a genre wouldn’t be as popular and would be relegated to the uber-nerd crowd.

Without the Star Wars franchise, 20th Century Fox would have gone out of business a long time ago. This means no X Men movies, and even though it’s hard to recall a time before the MCU, the X Men franchise, along with the Spiderman, Superman and Batman franchises are responsible for popularising the Superhero genre on the big screen. Without X Men, it’s doubtful that the original Spiderman movies would be given the go-ahead. This means the MCU, which was already a huge risk, would be an even more risky proposition. Maybe they’d still have gone through with it, but even if they did, without Star Wars to influence the cosmic side of things, the MCU would have been a different sort of beast altogether. To sum this section up, without Star Wars, our childhoods would be completely different, even for those who have never seen the movies.

The first blockbuster franchise that enjoyed success similar to Star Wars was the Harry Potter franchise. Harry Potter might play the role that Star Wars should have and prove to the industry that blockbusters work, effectively delaying the film industry by decades. In those decades, however, Hollywood might have gone a completely different route. Instead of becoming a cattle ranch for those juicy juicy cash cow franchises, it just might have become more artsy and creative, with directors and screenwriters able to utilise a great degree of artistic license without having to bend the knee to producers and boardroom executives. Maybe Science fiction becomes a genre that is less prone to space explosions and more to contemplative and intellectually stimulating stories.

However, the effect of Star Wars doesn’t just end with Hollywood. It’s seeped into popular culture, and has become a deeply ingrained part of the public consciousness. That pew-pew sound that you think of when someone says laser gun? We might not have ever heard it. Cliches like the “Villain was actually the protagonist’s parent all along” twist wouldn’t be as pervasive. To tell the truth, the way we think about stories as a whole would change. We would be exposed much less to the classic good vs evil conflict that has become so widespread. It might have even changed the course of the Cold War, what with Ronald Reagan using the Star Wars-inspired term “Evil Empire”  on multiple occasions to shape public opinion regarding the Soviet Union. It may just be a movie, but the making of Star Wars was an extremely important moment in history, and without it, our world wouldn’t be the same today. On the bright side, however, no prequels.

Koushik Kumaran

I love the fun things in life, like movies, music and comics.

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