It isn’t a simple task to recommend films or TV series to Star Wars fans for the simple reason that there truly isn’t anything like George Lucas’ epic space saga, now in the hands of JJ Abrams and Disney. But you can start by first looking at what influenced Lucas to make Star Wars and then trying to boil down what makes Star Wars tick.
From a sub-genre perspective, sci-fi is generally split into two groups: hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi. Hard sci-fi generally deals with stories characterized by an emphasis on science with technical accuracy, pushing action or special effects to the background. Fans of hard sci-fi would generally include 2001: A Space Odyssey at the top of their list along with newer entries like Europa Report. Soft sci-fi, on the other hand, favors soft sciences (sociology, psychology, etc) and is more concerned with character and futuristic society at large from a speculative viewpoint.
Star Wars, then, would fall toward this latter category, although it should be noted that many believe that the series exists in an entirely separate category: sci-fi fantasy. Regardless of the genre debate, you can start to get a sense of what might appeal to a Star Wars fan by starting with the sub-genre of soft-sci and trying to find titles that capture the adventure and fun of Star Wars. With that being said, here are ten films and TV series that would appeal fans of Star Wars.
1. Flash Gordon
The fact that Flash Gordon was one of George Lucas’ primary Star Wars influences should tell you that this comic strip-based film is worth your time if you’re a Star Wars fan. Additionally, Lucas attempted to obtain the rights to make a Flash Gordon film before he ever made Star Wars, and when he was denied, many of the ideas made their way into Star Wars: A New Hope.
Flash Gordon has been widely adapted over the years to include three film serials, a series of television shows both live action and animated, and a video game. But the loopiest of the bunch — and the most entertaining — was the 1980 film adaptation directed by Mike Hodges starring Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, and Max von Sydow (who also plays a character in The Force Awakens). With an intentionally campy style used to emulate the comics and serials, Flash Gordon tells the story of the titular hero, an American football player, who is scooped up by a rocketship and sent to planet Mongo where he and his friends battle Ming the Merciless over the fate of Earth.
While the film performed poorly at the time of release, it has since achieved cult classic status with filmmakers like Edgar Wright claiming it as a favorite. If you need another reason to check it out, the film’s soundtrack was composed and performed by none other than Queen.