Star Wars Changed Forever Because Of A Low Budget Indie Film

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

When fans discuss films that greatly impacted Star Wars, they typically bring up the obvious inspirations such as Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress. However, one low-budget, independent film ended up not only changing everyone’s favorite sci-fi franchise but completely reshaping fan culture and online discourse. In Kevin Smith’s film Clerks, a debate about whether the Rebels ended up murdering innocent contractors when blowing up the second Death Star led to George Lucas creating an entirely new race, the Geonosians, for the prequels.

Clerks Captured The Essence Of Star Wars Fans

The general premise of Clerks is that we follow the trials and tribulations of two characters: Dante Hicks, a relatively straight-laced convenience store worker, and Randall Graves, a hilariously crude video rental store worker. After re-watching Return of the Jedi, Randall begins arguing that by attacking and destroying a Death Star that was still under construction, the Rebels did more than kill evil members of the Galactic Empire. They also killed the countless independent contractors the Empire would have needed to complete the construction of the space station.

George Lucas Was Influenced By Clerks

It makes for a very funny scene and has been a talking point among Star Wars fans since Clerks came out in 1994. However, the last thing anyone ever expected was for George Lucas to mention this scene, but that’s exactly what happened. In the DVD commentary for Attack of the Clones, Lucas not only mentions the scene but highly implies that he changed a scene of his own film in response to Clerks.

George Lucas And Death Star Contractors

In the commentary, Lucas mentions that he added the scene where the Geonosians hand Count Dooku schematics for the Death Star because it made sense that aliens who build droids could be contracted to build the superweapon for Palpatine. He then references the Clerks scene but misnames the characters, claiming that these are the contractors that “Jay and Silent Bob” worried that the Rebels killed. According to Lucas, such worries are unnecessary because the contractors in question are “just a bunch of large termites.”

Lucas Didn’t Want To Prove Randall Right

For Star Wars fans, there is a lot to unpack here, including the implication that Geonosian lives don’t matter because they are weird bug people. Lucas in this comment could be channeling Anakin Skywalker, who justified murdering a bunch of Tusken Raiders by declaring them to be nothing more than “animals.” Arguably more interesting is the implication that Lucas created this scene and possibly the entire Geonosian race to disprove Randall’s assertion that countless innocent people died aboard the second Death Star. 

The Animated Series Voiced Fans Anger Over The Prequel

All things considered, George Lucas changing Star Wars lore due to a Clerks joke is a major honor for Kevin Smith. Arguably a better honor than he deserved after putting Lucas on trial in the Clerks cartoon and having Randall shake the director down to get his money back after watching The Phantom Menace. However, Smith would cause an even bigger lore change and get an even bigger honor in the Disney era of the franchise.

The Force Awakens Acknowledged Clerks

John Boyega

When J.J. Abrams was working on The Force Awakens, he gave Kevin Smith the opportunity to voice a brief line of Stormtrooper dialogue. Speaking of Stormtroopers, it was due to Clerks that Abrams made Finn a soldier who worked in sanitation: in the infamous contractors scene, Randall had asserted that “the average Stormtrooper” doesn’t “know how to install a toilet main” because “all they know is killing and white uniforms.” By making Finn a sanitation worker, Abrams playfully proved Smith wrong, and the Clerks director posted on Instagram that “I stand corrected.”

Clerks Set The Tone For Star Wars Internet Discussions

Abrams would later give Smith a small cameo as a background actor in The Rise of Skywalker, but what has impressed us the most about Kevin Smith’s intersections with Star Wars is that he had an immense effect on early internet nerd culture that continues to influence how fans analyze and discuss their favorite franchises. When Clerks premiered in 1994, most people were completely unfamiliar with the internet. These days, however, the discussion between Dante and Randall seems like it came straight from a Star Wars fan’s YouTube video or the comment section of a Star Wars subreddit.

Kids Today Don’t Understand How Hard It Was To Be A Fan

While he had no way of knowing this would happen while making Clerks, part of the reason Smith had such an outsize influence on the franchise is that he released his film during the gulf of time in which there were no new Star Wars movies to look forward to. The debate Dante and Randall had in 1994 was one that could only be properly enjoyed by fans who had nearly destroyed their VHS tapes endlessly rewatching the Original Trilogy. But as the Star Wars Expanded Universe exploded in popularity due to early internet culture, Smith was positioned as a de facto early fan authority on the franchise.

Clerks Was A Breath Of Fresh Air

Ironically enough, the fact that Clerks was such a forerunner of internet culture sometimes makes it less resonant to new audiences: a young person listening to the contractor argument for the first time, for example, might wonder why a director would bother creating a cinematic adaptation of a standard internet debate. However, Kevin Smith and his coterie of Clerks characters felt fresh and new at the time precisely because almost nobody else was overthinking, arguing about, and poking fun at beloved franchises like that. For better or for worse, Dante and Randall walked so that internet sh*tposters could run.

Kevin Smith Should Direct A Star Wars Movie


Given how great Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revolution (a series that, like Star Wars, combines science fiction and sorcery) turned out, we’re still a little sad that the director never got the chance to helm a film set in a galaxy far, far away. Given that Disney is now throwing almost every idea against the wall to see what sticks, we’ve got the perfect idea: Smith needs to direct a comedy film called Tosche Station, where we follow the hapless Tattooine clerks who have to put up with whiny Luke Skywalker and his deadbeat friends almost every day of the week.