Looney Tunes‘ Duck Dodgers put Daffy Duck and other characters in different roles to tell a silly sci-fi story. Daffy Duck played Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig played a space cadet, and so on. It was supremely goofy in all the ways you’d expect a Looney Tunes story to be. And apparently George Lucas wanted the 1953 theatrical cartoon short that launched the Duck Dodgers series, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, to air before every screening of Star Wars (via io9).
George really did want this classic Daffy Duck cartoon shown before every screening of #SW. It would've been an icebreaker to let the audience know what was coming was less than dead serious. I was disappointed when we couldn't get the rights to it & it didn't happen. #TrueStory https://t.co/5VcGKH1yxf— Mark Hamill (@MarkHamill) April 5, 2021
MeTV’s Toon In With Me shared that tidbit on Twitter and Mark Hamill, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker, confirmed. He recalled Lucas wanted to show that specific Daffy Duck cartoon as an icebreaker. Lucas hoped the silliness of Duck Dodgers would prep the audience for what was ahead: a romp of a space fantasy that didn’t take itself super seriously. But Lucas wasn’t able to land the rights to make this ultimate pairing come to pass.
Lucas and Fox did negotiate rights to the Looney Tunes cartoon in time for 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, but rather than stick with the original short, Lucas asked for a new sequel. Chuck Jones, a filmmaker and cartoonist best known for Looney Tunes, told Cartoon Research about the request in an interview. But they couldn’t finish the sequel in time. In the end, Duck Dodgers and the Return of the 24 ½th Century ended up premiering in November 1980 as part of the Daffy Duck’s Thanks-for-Giving Special animated television special.
Jones also shared a little about Lucas’ passion for Duck Dodgers. He recalled, “Lucas said that he saw Duck Dodgers the year it came out, when he was eight years old and he said that it impressed him so much that he decided he wanted to make movies. At least, that’s what he said in interviews at the time. (laughs). Who really knows? Apparently, it had some influence.”