Star Wars is our favorite franchise for obvious reasons, and it can be viewed in many ways: a space opera, a blend of science fiction and fantasy, a tale inspired by Samurai films and Western serials…
But the influence of Star Wars reaches far beyond long lost movie genres. While many people probably know the Tommy Boy “Luke, I am your father” uttered into the fan scene, or the copious references found in E.T. (which were repaid in The Phantom Menace), there are many other films that have referenced Star Wars, including those far outside of its regularly perceived scope. Here are some you may not have caught or remembered the first time around.
1. Happy Gilmore
Adam Sandler isn’t known for much subtlety in the humor of his films, but 1996’s Happy Gilmore had a slightly less overt reference to Star Wars. At the end of the film, Happy Gilmore sees a ghostly vision of his mentor, Chubs (Carl Weathers), alongside Abraham Lincoln and an alligator he fought earlier. Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin must still be wondering how an alligator became one with the living Force.
2. Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue
Animators love Star Wars. There are references in all sorts of animated films, including all three Toy Story movies, Wall-E, Chicken Little, and more. But you might not expect a Star Wars quote to show up in a Tinkerbell film. It’s a subtle one as well. When making a boat for the fairies, Bobble quotes Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, “This one goes there, that one goes there, right?”
Tom Cruise played the cocky, devil-may-care character often and well in the 1980s, but only once did he acknowledge his training came at the hand of someone more experienced. In 1988’s Cocktail, his character Brian Flanagan is getting his first bartending lesson from Doug Coughlin (played by Bryan Brown). In signature Tom Cruise style he responds, “Yes, Obi-Wan,” and an ’80s montage follows soon after.
4. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
There are a handful of side references to Star Wars in this futuristic adventure film. Writer and director Kerry Conran counts the franchise as one of his personal favorites and major influences.
When Jude Law’s sky captain comes into Manta Station in the film, he is told he has “permission to land on platform 327.” That’s the same platform that the Millennium Falcon used more than once: the docking bay on the Death Star and the parking space on Cloud City.
5. Karate Kid (2010)
When Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith teamed up for a remake/reboot of the Karate Kid franchise, they updated the references, as well. Spiritual exercise replaced everyday activities as the sole basis of training, exercises that Dre Parker likened to Yoda’s teachings in The Empire Strikes Back.
Mr. Han (Jackie Chan): “Chi. Internal Energy. The essence of life. It moves inside us. It flows through our bodies. Give us power form within.”
Dre Parker (Jaden Smith): “I get it. Like the Force in Star Wars. You’re Yoda and I’m like… I’m like a Jedi.”
6. Star Trek (2009)
Okay, you probably know this one already, but in honor of J.J. Abrams and his upcoming work, we had to note the homage thrown in the last time he brought a beloved science-fiction franchise back to the big screen. When the Starfleet ships destroyed by the Romulan Nero were found near Vulcan, R2-D2 can be seen floating through the wreckage in space. That little droid just gets himself everywhere doesn’t he? Including…
By far the newest film on this list, having just opened on May 22, 2015, the fantasy hobby shop in Tomorrowland is riddled with Star Wars memorabilia. The best moment in the shop has to be when the pint-sized robot Athena tosses her predecessor, R2-D2, at a pair of robotic foes while the poor droid squeals out in his signature beeps and boops.
Do you have a favorite Star Wars reference? Let us know in the comments!
Lucas Siegel is a freelance journalist and writer with over a decade of comic book, movie, TV, and video game reporting. A lifelong Star Wars fan, the galaxy far, far away shares time in his brain with Disney, superheroes, and Chicago sports. When he and his wife aren’t at Disney Parks, they’re watching Disney movies, their favorite The Clone Wars episodes, or playing Disney Infinity — you get the idea. He currently contributes to ComicBook.com and other outlets.