In the comic book world, Jack Kirby is a legend. Co-creator of some of Marvel’s finest characters — including Captain America, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man and Black Panther to name a few — Kirby hasn't received the household name recognition that he deserves. With Kirby’s passing on February 6, 1994, Stan Lee has received most of the pop-culture credit during the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fortunately, at this year's D23 Expo, Disney is poised to honor Jack Kirby’s legacy in a memorable way. On what would have been his 100th birthday, Jack Kirby will be given a Disney Legend award, along with Stan Lee. Though Disney wasn't yet involved with Marvel during Kirby's lifetime, it’s nice to know that the studio is honoring a man who put his heart and soul into his comic book creations. It’s safe to say that without his influence, we would not have the Marvel Cinematic Universe today.
And we may also not have another modern Disney property, as fans have speculated for years...
Did George Lucas Draw Inspiration From Jack Kirby’s New Gods?
Author Chris Taylor's book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise tells the story of how #GeorgeLucas drew heavy inspiration from World War II history, plus the science-fiction adventures of Flash Gordon. But the influences may not stop there.
According to Ronin Ro’s book Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution, Jack Kirby may have told Geoge Lucas about the concept for New Gods years before Star Wars existed.
Let me start by explaining what Jack Kirby's #NewGods actually are: a fictional race from the planets New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is filled with beautiful forests, mountains and rivers, and is ruled by the Highfather. Apokolips, on the other hand, is a volcanic planet appearing as a nightmarish dystopia, ruled by the evil Darkseid. The comic series came to be known as “Kirby’s Fourth World."
That doesn't sound much like Star Wars, but read on
The Source And The Force
In Kirby’s Fourth World, there’s a mysterious energy called the Source that binds all living things together; it's known as “the source of all that exists.” It is something that has helped to create the New Gods while also empowering them.
Sound a bit familiar? As Obi-Wan informs Luke, the Force is "an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."
You Underestimate The Power Of The Darkseid
Not only do Darkseid and Darth Vader want to rule their respective universes, but nearly every aspect of their stories are strikingly similar. Darkseid is the ruler of Apokolips while Vader is of course one of the heads of the Death Star.
Not only this, but they both have many soldiers that do their bidding. For Darkseid it’s the Parademons (who we will later see more of in this year's Justice League movie) and for Darth Vader it’s the Stormtroopers. And both groups of soldiers define the phrase "quantity over quality."
They also both have elite hunters.
For Darkseid, these powerful warriors include Granny Goodness, Desaad (a sadistic torturer), Doctor Bedlam (a being made of pure energy), Glorious Godfrey (a master manipulator), Kanto (a master assassin) and Devilance the Pursuer (a.k.a. the god of the hunt). Fans will be getting a taste of at least one of Darkseid's most powerful generals when Steppenwolf comes knocking on Earth’s door in Justice League.
In Star Wars terms, these elite forces may be classified as bounty hunters. Vader used them to track down Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. These include IG-88, Bossk, Dengar, Zuckuss and 4-LOM, and of course the most popular of them all, Boba Fett.
Boom Tubes Are Pretty Much Hyperdrives
Boom Tubes are defined by Wikia as an "extra dimensional point-to-point travel portal opened by a Mother Box used primarily by the New Gods of New Genesis and Apokolips." It’s a way of getting around faster from one location to another.
In Star Wars, this would be the corollary of hyperdrives, sometimes known as warp drives, which allow for faster-than-light travel. Like Boom Tubes, hyperdrives were specifically created to get from one side of the galaxy to another in just a matter of hours or even seconds.
Fahren-Knives Are Basically Lightsabers
We all know what lightsabers are in the Star Wars universe, but could Lucas have gotten the idea of this type of blade from some of the New God characters? As pictured above, Bernadeth wields what she calls a Fahren-Knife. This knife has the capability of burning a victim from the inside out quickly after they're stabbed.
Bernadeth isn’t the only character who carries a weapon capable of doing the same thing. Steppenwolf utilizes an Electro-Axe, his main weapon of choice. Both of these items are ancient weapons, given a futuristic upgrade for combat situations. The similarities between these and lightsabers cannot be overstated.
Orion Is The New Gods' Luke Skywalker
Orion is the son of Darkseid. At a very young age, Orion was taken away from Apokolips. Orion was raised and trained at a young age by the Highfather of New Genesis — an Obi-Wan-like figure — and later became one with the Source.
The Highfather taught Orion to harness control over his own rage and anger. If not, the dark and violent nature of Orion's father (Darkseid) would've eventually consumed him. Orion eventually fights Darkseid and defeats him, claiming victory over the planet Apokolips. He then goes to Earth in order to create an intergalactic peace settlement between the humans and the New Gods.
I don’t think I have to go into too much detail about how very similar this story arc is to Luke Skywalker's.
Now I’m not saying that George Lucas was definitely influenced by New Gods, but there are certainly similarities, which fans have long debated. Either way, without Lucas we would never have gotten the Star Wars universe that we have today.
What do you think of the comparisons? Do you believe George Lucas drew inspiration from New Gods, or is it a coincidence? Sound off in the comment section below!