10 Ways 'Star Wars' Has Influenced J. J. Abrams

Ever since we got the official, Jabba-sized news that J.J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII of Star Wars, we’ve all been wondering how the director will approach the new film. The Internet being what it is, needless to say there’s already been a good deal of speculation, predictions, expectations, and way too many lazy lens flare jokes. It’s the nature of the movie fan beast to wonder what a prominent director like Abrams will inevitably impose on the Star Wars franchise through his involvement. Most importantly, will it be for the better or the worse? The key to determining Abrams’ suitability and what his venture into a galaxy far, far away might be like isn’t to ask how he’ll influence Star Wars. It’s to ask how Star Wars has influenced him.

Thanks to his Amblin Entertainment photocopy of a movie, Super 8, Abrams has ensured he’s widely perceived as a devoted Spielberg disciple. What many have never considered is whether the director might also be similarly influenced by George Lucas. Especially since he took on that other widely popular space franchise. Yet look closer at the room of Joe – Abrams’ auto-biographical surrogate in Super 8 – and you’ll see Star Wars posters and a model TIE Bomber hanging from the ceiling. Then there’s Abrams openly professing that Star Wars is one of his favorite movies of all time. Most telling is a conversation with Bryan Curtis of Grantland that reveals he’s very much a “Lucasite” who admits that “[the] lessons I’ve learned from George, as a filmgoer, that have informed how I approach movies, as a filmmaker, are legion.” If you start to explore Abrams’ work with that in mind, you realize he is as much influenced by Lucas’ Star Wars as he is Spielberg’s canon.

We’ve gathered together ten examples that sample how Lucas’ original trilogy echoes throughout J.J. Abrams’ career. It should be noted that our intent here isn’t to maliciously find parallels to expose derivativeness. It’s to highlight Abrams’ affection for the series and how much he has been impacted by it. We do so in order to suggest that we don’t have to worry about whether Abrams knows how to make a good Star Wars movie. He does. Because he’s been making Star Wars movies in increments for years.

The Strong Female Protagonist Who Still Has to Appear Half Naked

One of Star Wars’ greatest legacies is Leia Organa, who remains one of science fiction’s most empowered, admirable female characters. She’s an intelligent warrior who is as courageous as she is caring, and more than comfortable asserting her authority (and superiority) over the men around her – frequently with a sharp tongue. The bun-haired rebel is also a somewhat problematic feminist figure, given that she’s a princess prone to needing to be saved by men, is saddled with being narratively defined by who she loves, and is famously sexualized and objectified in that slave girl metal bikini. J.J. Abrams’ female characters all very much evoke the range of Leia’s characteristics and portrayal. Abrams’ work is frequently defined by bad-ass women like Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly) in Lost, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) in Alias, Uhura (Zoe Saldana) in Star Trek, and Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) in Fringe, who are all inevitably required to strip down to their underwear and be ogled.