May 1, 2016

Star Wars posters and who Drew them. Sorry for the dad joke.

There are many iconic things about Star Wars. Vader, X-Wings, “I know” and “So be it, Jedi” quickly come to mind. Those things are movie moments themselves. But out side the film reel, the original Star Wars poster itself has become an cultural icon and those posters that have followed have also slipped into pop culture.

Here's a brief look at some of the official and teaser posters for the Star Wars films - it's not a full and comprehensive look by any means but the classic shots of Luke and the game are there.....

A New Hope 

Original Star Wars theatrical posters

Transcending the film itself, the original postee (on the left) has become the gold standard for how a movie poster can be designed. What most people won’t realise was 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 is clear in the work.

The Empire Strikes Back

Empire Strikes Back Posters

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 released 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 movie posters

Return of the Jedi saw Drew Struzan get a chance a doing a Return of the Jedi poster. This was an interesting time as Stuzan’s poster has become the stuff of legend because 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 War poster, the shadow of Vader looms large (well why not, by this time Star Wars is actually the story of Darth Vader).

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 hands on the saber are those of George Lucas. We doubt it….

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 the special editions in the mid 1990s. 

The Prequels Posters 

The Star Wars prequel posters

The teaser poster for The Attack of the Clones was quite the 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 favoured 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.

TPM and AOTC were 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 – being Han and Leia at the centre, X-wings and Tie Fighters having a go at each other (check the above posters, the ships are everywhere) and drawn light sabers. The posts obviously also introduces the three new main characters – and sets 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.

International Posters

The beauty of Star Wars being a universally loved film is that the film's posters also get the chance to have a 'foreign' touch in the sense that individual countries got to product their own posters. Here's three great ones - see if you can work out which is the Hungarian....

Hungarian Star Wars posts by Tibor Helenyi

They all are apparently!  They were created by Tibor Helényi, a Hungarian painter 


  1. Dude, I love your blog, but when you said "which is the Japenese one," I read them carefully and found that they are all Hungarian. (I am from Hungary.) "A Csillagok Háborúja" literally means "The War of the Stars." (Star Wars). "A Birodalom Visszavág" means "The Empire gets Revenge." (The Empire Strikes Back.) "A Jedi Visszatér" means "The Jedi Returns." (Return of the Jedi.) I will repeat myself: your blog is awesome, and I like reading from someone who likes the prequels, but please pay attention to the details.

    1. Changes made and original poster created credited. Thanks for your input, it's greatly appreciated.

  2. Maybe that's the joke?! Actually it's not - I'll check my source and match to your advice. Cheers and thanks for your kind words.