‘Star Wars’: From Sci-Fi to Fantasy

in Star Wars

Inquisitor (Clancy Brown) using lightsaber in 'Tales of the Jedi'

Credit: Lucasfilm

The galaxy far, far away is one of the most influential settings of any piece of science fiction. Star Wars has become an absolute juggernaut of the genre since it first premiered way back in 1977, but the series seems to cross the borders further and further into fantasy with each new installment and spinoff.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi on Daiyu
Credit: Lucasfilm

Granted, the argument can be made that the series has always been more fantasy than sci-fi, some even going as far as calling the Jedi “space wizards” and the Force a form of magic. However, the origins of the original series and even a few chapters from the prequels were blatantly crafted as a space opera. The use of starships, alien worlds, droids, and futuristic cultures served as ballasts to tether the plot to science fiction, but the fantastical elements have only expanded with the extended universe.  The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, and especially Obi-Wan Kenobi’s solo series have taken a headlong dive into the realms of fantasy.

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While some might consider this a major deviation from George Lucas’ original framework, or the franchise becoming too “Disneyfied,” the series expanding itself into new frontiers not only maintains the spirit of Star Wars but blends genres beautifully to create new stories for legions upon legions of brand new fans. After all, where does it say the franchise can’t be both? That all being said, some of the content in the extended universe has started down the road from sci-fi epic to something more akin to a space-fantasy.

Art of the High Republic Book
Credit: Lucasfilm

This concept can be clearly observed in many volumes of the franchise’s book series, perhaps most recently in Charles Soule’s High Republic series. Set 200 years before the prequels, there’s just something about the Jedi High Council that seems like they’d be more at home in a Tolkien novel or a D&D session rather than a distant galaxy. Listen to the language used in the series launch trailer. Aside from a few pieces of space-themed imagery, it sounds much more like a fantasy epic in the works rather than a chapter of the Star Wars saga. Granted, since it is set two centuries before the clones, grand scale battles, and a heavy reliance on technology, its understandable that the galaxy might look and behave a little differently than what fans are used to.

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At the end of the day, there’s definitely a place for fans in both camps. Is Star Wars still a space opera? Of course, that’s not changed. Is it an epic fantasy as well? Yes, and that’s okay. A fantasy set in space is just as valid as science-fiction stranded on some life-sustaining planet. The galaxy has been bringing fans the best of both worlds for decades, and it continues to expand like the ripples of a supernova.

Do you think Star Wars has become a fantasy? Tell us in the comments below.

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