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Updated: November 23, 2021

Star Wars is a multi-genre mythology and multimedia franchise created by George Lucas in 1976. Comprising movies, novels, comics, video games, toys, and numerous television series, the Star Wars franchise employs archetypal motifs common to religions, classical mythology, and political climax, as well as musical motifs of those same aspects.

As one of the foremost examples of the space opera subgenre of science fiction, Star Wars has become part of mainstream popular culture, as well as being one of the highest-grossing series of all time.

In 2012, The Walt Disney Company bought the rights to the franchise from George Lucas for 4.05 billion dollars. Since then, Disney has split off Star Wars into two main categories, those being Star Wars Legends and Star Wars Canon, with Canon being the "official" story of the franchise.

Despite the mainline story of the franchise, officially known as the Skywalker Saga, reaching its conclusion in 2019 with the release of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, the franchise is still going strong, mainly due to the success of the Disney+ original television series The Mandalorian, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and publishing projects such as Star Wars: The High Republic.

"George Lucas has achieved what few artists do; he has created and populated a world of his own. His 'Star Wars' movies are among the most influential, both technically and commercially, ever made."

The Star Wars story has been presented in a series of American films, which have spawned a large quantity of books and other media, which have formed the Expanded Universe. The Star Wars mythos is also the basis of many toys and games of varying types. The films and novels employ common science-fiction motifs.

Whereas Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, a science fantasy franchise that has enjoyed long-lasting popularity in American popular culture, and often combines magical/supernatural elements with a rational and progressive approach to storytelling, Star Wars has a strong mythic quality alongside its political and scientific elements.

Unlike the heroes of earlier space-set sci-fi/fantasy film and TV series such as Flash Gordon, the heroes of Star Wars are not militaristic types but romantic individualists. College literature professors have remarked that the Star Wars saga, with its struggle between good and evil, democracy and empire, can be considered a national epic for the United States. The film has many visual and narrative similarities to John Ford's The Searches, which also provides a clue to the relationship between Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker.

George Lucas attributed the strong appeal of Star Wars to it being a mythology that takes from thousand-year-old psychological motifs and underpinnings of humanity. Particularly, Lucas saw children as the prime audience for such stories. The Star Wars films show considerable similarity to Japanese Jidaigeki films, as well as Roman mythology. Lucas has stated that his intention was to create in Star Wars a modern mythology, based on the studies of his friend and mentor Joseph Campbell. He has also called the first movie's similarity to the film The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa) an "homage."

The Star Wars films portray a world full of grime and technology that looks like it has been used for years, unlike the sleek, futuristic world typical of earlier science-fiction films. In interviews, Lucas tells of rubbing the new props with dirt to make them look weatherworn. Lucas may have been inspired by the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western films of the 1960s, which performed a similar function on the Western many years earlier. It is tempting to speculate that this break from traditional science-fiction film influenced the cyberpunk genre that emerged around 1984.

Licensed Star Wars novels have been published since the original movie was released in 1977. Although these novels are licensed by Lucas (meaning he shares in the royalties), he retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe, forcing Lucas Licensing to devote considerable ongoing effort to ensuring continuity between different authors' works and Lucas' films. Occasionally, elements from these novels are adopted into the highest tier of Star Wars canon, the movies. Books, games, and stories that are not directly derived from the nine movies of Star Wars are known as the Extended or Expanded Universe (EU for short). Lucas has said that he does not deeply involve himself in the EU, choosing instead to concentrate mainly on his movies instead of the licensing world of the books, games and comic books.

The original (1977) Star Wars (A New Hope) and the first sequel, The Empire Strikes Back (1980), have been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

In 1978, Lucas sued the creators of Battlestar Galactica for its similarity to Star Wars. The case was dismissed as having no merit in 1980 by a U.S. Federal judge.

The mainline story of Star Wars, known as the The Skywalker Saga, ended in 2019 with the release of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker. However, the Star Wars franchise itself has not ended, and is continuing to move on past the story of the original saga with shows like The Mandalorian and the upcoming project known as the Star Wars: The High Republic.

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