George Lucas’s Red Tails seems to initially have been inspired by his great desire to produce yet another great film. Once he stumbled upon the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, he was driven to tell their story. A good friend of Lucas’s who served as a U.S. Air Force photographer told him about the Red Tails, and the rest is, as they say, history. It made sense to Lucas to make this film. It was an action-packed story about heroes, similar to the story he had created in Star Wars. Lucas mentions that, as a child, he had a love for P51s, which was a popular fascination for children when he was growing up. Roughly twenty-four years ago, he began production of the film with the assistance of about forty Tuskegee airmen (of which only a few remained when the film was completed) guiding his expertise. In the years dedicated to bringing this film to fruition, digital technology advanced, and those dog-fighting P51s that Lucas adored alongside the scenery of the 1940s became replicable -- and the journey to the silver screen was finally completed in 2012. Along the way, Lucas realized that the history of World War II was incomplete without a chapter on the Red Tails. “The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is a big story,” he said, “and it’s an amazing story . . . they are the Knights of the contemporary age, and I’m hoping that this film is an inspiration to young people today.”
Red Tails seems to capture the triumphs and tragedies of the Tuskegee Airmen, but its characters are loosely based, and the film as a whole is not historically accurate. Lucas never references any previous works as being particularly influential in the creation of this film, but many of the aerial scenes within the film seem strikingly similar to the scenes in Robert Markowitz’s 1995 HBO television movie The Tuskegee Airmen. Though a prequel and a sequel is yet to be confirmed for Red Tails, Lucas credits their possibilities respectively to inspiration from the stories of the hardships and racism experienced while training at Tuskegee, and the boycotting of Officers Clubs that helped to spark the civil rights movement subsequent to the war.