The new Magnificent Seven film hits theaters this week, and it’s a remake of a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic, Seven Samurai. The concept of anti-heroes banding together to serve a greater purpose is well-worn (see everything from A Bug’s Life to Guardians of the Galaxy), but did you know that the very first Star Wars “Expanded Universe” storyline went full Magnificent Seven? It’s true!
Star Wars has been considered by many to be a Western set in space, so it makes sense that when Marvel Comics finished their adaptation of the first film, with no other source material to go on, they would look towards the time-tested tropes of the Western film genre.
In Marvel’s 1978 Star Wars comic series, issues #7 thru #10, writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin did a full-on space adaptation of the original Magnificent Seven (and/or Seven Samurai) film – but in this case, the heroes were called “Eight for Aduba-3.”
On a mission to pay Jabba the Hut (yes, yes, don’t get your space-spurs in a bunch, he only had one “T” back then) the money he owes, Han and Chewie find themselves in the town of Onacra on the planet of Aduba-3, where, in a scene straight out of the original Magnificent Seven, they help transport the body of a cyborg to a burial ground where the local citizens are prejudice against robots. (Read all about issue #7 in our Classic Comic Cover Corner archive.)
The townspeople like Han’s moxie, so they enlist his help in ridding Onacra of the villainous Serji-X Arrogantus and his “basket of deplorables” called the Cloud-Riders; a group that pillages the town on a regular basis and, even worse, chases off their banthas. And artist Howard Chaykin even has Serji-X Arrogantus looking distinctly like Eli Wallach’s Calvera, the bad guy in The Magnificent Seven.
Han and Chewbacca recruit a group of diverse characters to help them out, some of the first expanded universe characters ever created, including a Luke Skywalker lookalike, Jimm Doshun (AKA the Starkiller Kid), and his robot FE-9Q; the alluring space-pirate, Amaiza Foxtrain; a porcupine-like creature called Hedji, who can throw quills from his body like James Coburn’s Mag7 character, Britt, could throw knives; an old wannabe Jedi called Don-Wan Kihotay (from Obroa-skai, not La Mancha); and last, but not least, the much-maligned green bunny with an attitude, Jaxxon.
Coincidentally, this Seven Samurai inspired story isn’t the first time that Star Wars was influenced by the work of Akira Kurosawa. George Lucas has cited Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress as one of the many inspirations of his original Star Wars film.
Oddly enough, a couple of years back, director Zack Snyder was rumored to be helming a Seven Samurai themed Star Wars flick; and while that rumor turned out to be false, Snyder has mentioned that his upcoming Justice League film will be a nod to the Akira Kurosawa classic. And so as the pop culture circle of life spins, everything old is new again.