Science has revealed a lot more about when the Star Wars movies take place. Every non-spinoff Star Wars movie opens the same iconic text – “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” It is a phrase that is synonymous with the franchise and immediately gives that sense of history and wonder to it. The time period and setting of Star Wars is a beautiful mystery, but some fans want hard answers.
Patrick Johnson’s book, “The Physics of Star Wars: The Science Behind a Galaxy Far, Far Away”, attempts to apply the real-world science to a universe with magical space monks. The chosen passage takes a look at the planets, elements and lifeforms of the Star Wars universe and the knowledge about the creation of the real universe and tries to blend the two into one whole. While it may sound like a nerd’s errand, Johnson comes up with not one, but may explanations.
As reported by Wired, Johnson posits that based on the development of life, culture and approximate age of the planets in the universe, Star Wars takes place about 9 billion years after the big bang. This leaves at least 4.7 billion years between the stories of Star Wars and the present day world. So, it is “a long time ago.”
The most interesting evidence Johnson gives to the theory is the planet of Mustafar; the site of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s climatic duel in Revenge of the Sith and home to Darth Vader’s castle. Mustafar is a planet that overflows with lava and has ridiculous amount of volcanoes but that climate is not that different to what Earth was like in its early stages. Hoth, the famous snowy planet from Empire Strikes Back, may be another Earth-like entity experiencing an ice age. Star Wars‘ motif of having “themed planets” is nothing more than Earth-esque planets being in different stages of development.
Star Wars taking place 9 billion years after the big bang, but 4.7 billion years before the modern era, is only one theory. Johnson theorizes that the opening to Star Wars crawl is a lie and that the universe takes place in an alternate reality. This explains why the elements and atoms, the basic building blocks of the universe, are different for Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan and everyone else.
The most interesting theory though is that Star Wars can take place before the big bang itself. While it is not a widely accepted theory, Johnson states that there are some who believe that life existed in the universe before the big bang. The big bang was less “creation of life” and more of a reset button.
It is next to impossible to prove these theories. It is impossible until Disney runs out of ideas for standalone movies and decides to go full science-fiction and jump a Jedi into our “real world” through time travel. But it is fun to imagine that there is more to the famous Star Wars opening text than some smart language.