‘Firefly’ Was More Heavily Inspired By George Lucas and ‘Star Wars’ Than You Think
Firefly was a unique sci-fi TV show that aired on FOX in 2002. The short-lived western set in space never made it through the entire first season, with only 11 out of 14 episodes broadcast.
A strong fan base was not enough to keep the show running, and amidst low Nielsen ratings, the series was canceled. The franchise developed over the years with strong DVD sales, a comic book series, and a popular role-playing game. The film Serenity was released in 2005 to give fans closure of the story from the original series.
What many viewers didn’t realize at the time is that Firefly got a lot of inspiration from George Lucas and the Star Wars franchise. Throughout the series, there are plenty of Easter eggs to support the theory. Let’s take a look at some of the fun facts that made the series an after-market sensation.
‘Firefly’ is a peak at the future
The television series was inspired by the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. The story is set during the American Civil War as it follows soldiers fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Firefly creator Joss Whedon chose to set the television series in the future during the Reconstruction Era of 2517. Nine eclectic crew members live aboard the Serenity spaceship as they battle the Anglo-Sino Alliance. The universe is a mixture of Chinese and American culture, merging corporate giants and governments.
Whedon, who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is no stranger to the entertainment industry. He wrote and directed the Serenity film and is best known for his work on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers films.
The sci-fi classic achieved cult status
In Firefly, quick-tempered Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) was a former Browncoat sergeant who leads a team of space cowboy rebels.
FOX didn’t think the two-hour pilot had enough action to keep viewers’ attention. Network executives made the unorthodox decision to air the episodes out of order. “The Train Job” was the first episode to be broadcast, and the pilot eventually was aired in its entirety as the last episode.
The network’s strategy failed miserably, and the show was canceled before it even got started.
The Take says the loyal fandom has raised Firefly to the likes of a “cult status and iconic position as a science fiction classic.” They noted, “It was a really good show with intriguing characters, a fresh and original premise, and tons of potential. Cut that short, and you start a riot. Start a riot, and you gain attention.”
According to TV Guide, Firefly was one of the top “shows that should have never been canceled.” Being taken off the air too soon will be the lasting legacy of the short-run series.
Connections to the ‘Star Wars’ franchise
Whedon did not skimp when it came to Star Wars references and innuendos.
Mental Floss reported that the bi-level Serenity spaceship, built to scale, was inspired by the Millennium Falcon. They explained, “you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas’ magnum opus on the show.”
In the pilot, when Inara (Morena Baccarin) is introduced, an Imperial Shuttle from Star Wars can be seen flying through space behind her. In “Shindig,” a Starlight Intruder is seen when the Serenity lands on the planet of Persephone.
Fillion, who is a nerd when it comes to Han Solo, had the prop department create a 12-inch statue of his Star Wars idol. They encased it in Carbonite and it can be seen in the background of several scenes. Fans believe that it was the intention of Whedon to have Captain Mal’s appearance resemble Han Solo.
It’s been almost two decades since Firefly originally aired. The fandom still holds out hope that Disney, who now owns Star Wars and Marvel Entertainment, will pick up the series for a reboot.