Is Star Wars Steampunk?

Is Star Wars Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out. 

Before we get into whether Star Wars is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not. 

Movie Title: Star Wars

Studio: Lucasfilm, Twentieth Century Fox

Director: George Lucas

Story By: George Lucas

Release Date: May 25, 1977 (United States)

Main Actors: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Synopsis: The Imperial Forces, under orders from Darth Vader, hold Princess Leia hostage in their efforts to subdue the rebellion against the Empire. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo (smuggler), captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together droid duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue Princess Leia, and help the Rebel Alliance in order to restore freedom to the Galaxy.

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is Star Wars steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.

There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk

Check out our in depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums. 

As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk. 

Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them

As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie.

If you’re interested in learning more about steampunk, check out our article, ‘What is Steampunk?’, which will take you through the history, influences, fashions, gadgets, and much more

Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie

  1. The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’  
  2. Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
  3. Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.  
  4. Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either the Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future, occasionally depicted as a ‘wild west’ setting. 
  5. The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer. 
  6. Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, other times, a mechanical exoskeleton.
  7. Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that mechanically springs from up a sleeve to the user’s hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, emphasizing the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.  
  8. Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
  9. The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc. 
  10. Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer.

If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?

So, let’s take a look, is Star Wars steampunk?

What Elements of Star Wars Are Steampunk?

Han Solo fashion definitely fits into the steampunk genre, as does a lot of the main characters in the Resistance. Alongside this, you have the pistol that Han uses as well his (and Chewis) toolbelts that can be seen. Han, in his own way, is an inventor in the way that he constantly patches up the Falcon.

However, the fashions of Darth Veda and the Storm Troopers would fit neater into the Cyberpunk genre

C-3PO – need I say any more?! Made out of brass, and embodies the genre. The way he is constructed makes him feel like an augmented human, however, this is never discussed in any detail.

Even though the technology is advanced in Star Wars (and not something new, just being invented), there is definitely an old-fashioned/retro feel to a lot of the technology.

Whether Star Wars is steampunk or not, there are certainly enough steampunk Star Wars cosplay, art, and associated products available on the market, so clearly some people are convinced that Star Ward, is, indeed a steampunk classic. Let’s be honest, does it matter whether it is or not?

What Elements of Star Wars Are NOT Steampunk?

Lets get to the Millenium Falcon, and the Death Star for that matter, neither of which are run on steam. The Falcon runs on ‘liquid metal fuel’, quite what this is is never explained.

Furthermore, there is very much the sense that technology has been around for years, invention is not something new and exciting as it is normally depicted in steampunk movies. The technology seen is often very advanced and digital, more what you may expect to see in a cyberpunk movie.

The weapons used in Star Wars are not consistent with steampunk, even those Han’s blastor pistol is retro in appearance, it still fires light-based energy. Not to mention lightsabers, flame projectors, and laser cannons, to mention but a few.

Finally, there is not the ‘hope’ that is normally found and felt in steampunk movies, instead, there is the ongoing struggles in different directions, more than can be felt in a dieselpunk movie like Waterworld.

So, Overall Is Star Wars Steampunk?

Overall, no, Star Wars is not a steampunk movie. However, there are definitely some interesting details in the movie which are undoubtedly steampunk-inspired. If you had to place Star Wars into a genre it would probably be a cross-over between Dieselpunk, Raypunk, and Formicapunk (aka Cassette Futurism). However, the whole point of Star Wars is that it is eclectic, bringing together a number of genres, in the same way as it brings together a number of different societies. The beauty of these films is their variety, they are not one thing, in the same way, they do not fit into one punk aesthetic.

What are your thoughts? Is the movie Star Wars steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.

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