40 Imaginary Worlds to Know for the True Movie Buff
For over a century, movies have been our gateway to wondrous and magical worlds; lands often as bewitching as they are terrifying. Here are 50 famous imaginary worlds in movies that have charmed movie lovers worldwide for decades. Given the chance, wouldn’t you want to live in some of these? Or at least pay a visit?
40 Famous Imaginary Worlds in Movies
1. A Galaxy Far, Far Away (Star Wars Franchise): It’s impossible to include all the key planets of the Star Wars franchise in a listicle. Listed below are only the major planets i.e. locations from the cinematic movies:
- Tatooine: The home planet of the “Forceful” Skywalkers is a desert wasteland constantly scorched by two suns; a world so arid, moisture is a commodity. It is also a haven for crooks, smugglers, and monsters. Including a slug-like criminal kingpin and a monstrosity that takes several millennia to digest its still-living prey.
- Alderaan: Earth-like, beautiful Alderaan has only been glimpsed at in the Star Wars movies, but it earned a permanent place in geek culture for being the planet destroyed by the first Death Star. Star Wars fans consider the massacre the representative act of the Empire’s evil.
- Yavin IV: The lush fourth moon of Yavin Prime was the hiding place of an important Rebel base at the end of A New Hope. Dotted by huge ruins resembling Guatemalan pyramids, the forested world enjoyed much greater significance in the Expanded Universe (Legends) novels as a world inseparable from Jedi history.
- Hoth: The icy, inhospitable world at the start of The Empire Strikes Back
- Dagobah: A mysterious and dangerous swamp planet described as brimming with the Force. Unless you are a centuries-old Jedi master, with green skin, you will find this planet hard to appreciate.
- Bespin: A gas giant with floating mining colonies that double as resorts. The most famous resort being Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City.
- Endor: Like Yavin IV, another forested moon that was the backdrop for the Empire’s downfall. It is home to the Ewoks i.e. teddy bear-like creatures so adorable, they had to be created for the purpose of merchandising.
- Coruscant: The de facto capital of the Star Wars universe. An ecumenopolis i.e. a planet entirely covered by one city, the gleaming planet is the political and social core of the Republic/Empire. It is also home to the Jedi temple.
- Naboo: The verdant homeworld of Padmé Amidala and Palpatine. Its design incorporated various Mediterranean influences. The planet is also full of swamps that hid cities contained within giant bubbles, these being the dwellings of the native Gungans.
- Kamino: A stormy planet where the Republic’s Clone Army was first produced.
- Geonosis: A rocky planet full of caverns. Trade Federation Battle Drones were mass-produced here.
- Mustafar: A fiery, volcanic world full of lava rivers. Notorious for being the site of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s first death duel.
- Jakku: A Tatooine-like desert world introduced in 2015’s The Force Awakens. Like Tatooine, it is lawless and inhospitable. Like Tatooine, a young human strong with the Force also lives on it.
- Takodana: The forested world from which the Resistance launched their final assault on Starkiller Base.
- Starkiller Base: The planet-wide killer weapon of the First Order in The Force Awakens. It is essentially an icy planet terraformed into a Death Star.
- Ahch-To: The hiding place of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. Location of the first Jedi Temple and based on the Skellig Michael crag of Ireland.
- Cantonica: An arid planet famous/notorious for the exotic Canto Bight resort. Canto Bight itself is heavily influenced by the aesthetics of Dubrovnik.
- Crait: The site of the showdown between the Resistance and the First Order in The Last Jedi. A visually striking world with immense salt plains covering red soil.
Passanna: A desert planet in The Rise of Skywalker. Location of a major showdown between Rey and her Force boyfriend, Kylo Ren.
- Kijimi: A planet tragically destroyed in The Rise of Skywalker. Task accomplished without the use of an expensive Death Star.
- Exegol: A hidden Sith world that was the hideout of the resurrected Emperor in The Rise of Skywalker. Surrounded by gravity wells, solar storms and other dangers, and unreachable without a Sith Wayfinder.
- Jedha: A barren desert moon sacred to believers in the Force. A major source of Kyber crystals i.e. the mineral necessary to produce lightsabers.
- Scarif: A picturesque, tropical world in Rogue One. Location of a high-security Imperial data bank and subsequently decimated by the first Death Star.
2. Ancient Greece (Various): Greek mythology has long been beloved worldwide. Since the 1950s, numerous movies have depicted a rugged and dangerous imaginary world in which the Greek gods walk among men. Notable entries from the past include the stop motion gems of Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981). Between 2003 and 2014, movie buffs were also treated to several reinterpretations of classic Greek sagas such as the remakes of Clash of the Titans, and Immortals (2011). There are, of course, also the many Hercules movies since the 1960s, these ranging from the comical to the valiant, to the unbearable.
3. Arendelle (Frozen Franchise): Based on the scenery of Nærøyfjord in western Norway, Frozen’s Arendelle is an attractive European-style castle city bordering rugged mountains and a fjord. In Frozen 2, it is revealed that Arendelle laid south of the Enchanted Forest, the latter a place where elemental spirits roam free. The presence of early modern technologies such as monochrome photography hints at the time setting of Arendelle being about the 19th century.
4. Arrakis (Dune): The desert planet at the heart of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. In the novels, it is considered the “most valuable planet in the universe” as it is the only source of the exotic spice Melange. Sci-fi fans remain split over whether David Lynch’s 1984 movie adaptation does justice to the Dune novels. However, Lynch’s production did give us an extensive albeit simplistic look at this harsh world. Hopefully, the 2020 reboot will offer us a more memorable sighting.
5. Asgard (Thor Franchise): The Nordic realm of the Gods received a modern update in Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor franchise. Instead of rustic mead halls and longhouses, Marvel’s Asgard is a shiny, futuristic city that wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars movie. The Asgardians here even fly space vessels and use a mix of modern and classic weapons. Definitely, one of the most inventive interpretations of the realm of Odin in storytelling history.
6. Azeroth (Warcraft): Heavily inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, and since its inception, expanded to include influences from a myriad of cultures, Blizzard Entertainment’s Azeroth is more familiar to gamers than it would be to movie lovers. That said, 2016’s Warcraft: The Beginning gave us a good clear look at this mesmerizing but war-torn world on the big screen, albeit a look restricted to the eastern continent. Regrettably, with there being no positive news about a movie sequel as of 2019, movie buffs probably wouldn’t get to see Azeroth again in cinemas anytime soon.
7. Berk (How to Train Your Dragon Franchise): Berk was only a battled Viking settlement when Hiccup first met Toothless. Thanks to the movie sequels and animated series, though, we now know that the ocean surrounding Berk is also home to numerous other Viking strongholds and a hidden world that’s a sanctuary for dragons. A magnificent place to explore at leisure, if you have a flying dragon as a buddy.
8. Crematoria (The Chronicles of Riddick): The harsh prison moon featured in 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick. It is a natural prison as the surface is completely inhabitable. In the daytime, the temperature soars to 702 Fahrenheit. In the night, the temperature plunges to -295 Fahrenheit.
9. Cybertron (Transformers Franchise): An entire planet that is basically a machine, with chunks of its mantle removed to reveal the interior. Even in its 80s cartoon form, the homeworld of the Transformers endlessly fascinates. This visual spectacle of lights and machinery, seen in snatches in the Michael Bay Transformers movies, is without a doubt, one of the most imaginative fantasy planets ever conceptualized.
10. Earth (Various): Our very own “home planet” is no stranger to fantasy, speculative, or science fiction movies. Sadly, however, it is mostly portrayed as a victim of environment catastrophes or excessive human development. In Waterworld, human civilization is decimated by global flooding; in the Mad Max franchise, the depletion of oil resulted in cities (somehow) replaced by deserts. In other dystopian movies such as Blade Runner and Total Recall, technology exists in a tenuous and often dangerous balance with humanity. Last but not least, there are the monster-infested Earths, the monsters here usually being zombies. Unless you are a battle-harden adventurer, my guess is, you wouldn’t remotely want to be anywhere near these versions of Earth.
11. Eternia (Masters of the Universe Franchise): He-Man’s Eternia has only been seen once on the big screen, although hours of its medieval “sceneries” and “attractions” are available in cartoon form. With the upcoming 2021 film though, moviegoers would likely be treated to more memorable visuals of this strange world. The world of Grayskull, where technology and magic coexist.
12. Fantasia (The Neverending Story): Memorably adapted for the big screen in 1984, The Neverending Story tells the strange tale of a boy who becomes part of the magical quest he’s reading. Through the explanation subsequently given, it is implied that viewers of the movie are part of a “never ending” tale too, with others watching their adventures as well. As creepy as that is by today’s standards, what it actually means is that Fantasia is the product of human imagination. In other words, you can have your own Fantasia, with flying puppy-like dragons and all, any time, any day.
13. Hyboria (Conan Franchise): A supercontinent that’s the setting for Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian stories. While Howard’s stories depicted a world of substantial complexity and history, the movie adaptations painted a simpler savage world that was rugged and wild. It can be inferred that Hyboria in the movies is also awfully warm, given the minimal amount of clothing everyone is wearing.
14. Isla Nublar (Jurassic Park Franchise): Given the average human size and tastiness, no one will survive very long on Isla Nublar or any of the fictitious islands depicted in the Jurassic Park franchise. That said, Jurassic World offered a suggestion on how it could work – in the form of a massive theme park. Properly managed, this “world” will easily be the most fascinating and exciting place on Earth to visit.
15. Krypton (Superman Franchise): Superman’s birth planet of Krypton has been very differently portrayed in the movies. In the 1978 Richard Donner masterpiece, it was a surreal icy realm. In the post-2010 reboots, a classic futuristic city look was adopted; also, with the entire color palette changed from white to yellow. Whichever version, Krypton would have been a fascinating place for any human to visit, had it not sadly went kaboom.
16. Middle Earth (The Lord of the Rings Franchise): Hands-down the most complex imaginary world ever created, J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth is the template for all high fantasy imaginary realms to follow. Geographically resembling Northern Europe, the vast lands are full of secrets and exotic sites; locations such as elven cities, haunted ruins, sinister spires, and picturesque hamlets. Even the bellies of its mountains are an adventurer’s dream, hollowed out to form massive subterranean Dwarven cities and forbidden temples. Just be careful not to wander into a Balrog’s den if exploring such underground lairs. Even renowned wizards do not walk away well from such nasty encounters.
17. Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia Franchise): C.S. Lewis’ Narnia is a vast, geographically diverse land full of magical creatures, most easily accessible by walking through an English wardrobe. Three things to note about this famous imaginary world. Firstly, Narnia is actually the main kingdom in that world, though the name is also often used to refer to the entire realm. Secondly, unlike how it seems, magic is everywhere but not easily accessible by humans. Lastly, only human children can visit Narnia. Not even High King Peter can re-enter Narnia once of adult age. Within the books, this was explained as humans losing the ability to wonder as they age. In literary terms, it was Lewis’ celebration and lament of childhood innocence.
18. Neverland (Peter Pan): Pirates, a dainty fairy, even an obsessive crocodile! The movie versions of J.M. Barrie’s Neverland isn’t exactly a safe place to be, but for spirited children, it is no doubt the perfect tropical island paradise. Of note, some inhabitants of Neverland do not age as they “refuse to grow up.” This has led to the imaginary world being used as a metaphor for immortality, escapism, and even the afterlife.
19. OASIS (Ready Player One): If you’re undecided about which imaginary world you would want to visit, then the OASIS is your obvious choice. The acronym for Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, Ernest Cline’s homage to pop culture is a cyber universe containing everything and anything. You could be a Jedi on one planet, Link the Hyrule savior on another, even Gandalf himself on a rocky moon ruled by Freddy Krueger. In Steven Spielberg’s 2018 movie adaptation, near a hundred references to games, movies, and animation appear, and even this is but a fraction of what Cline implied in his novel. So the story goes, humans in the resource depleted world of Ready Player One became addicted to the OASIS for escapism and indulgence. Chances are, you wouldn’t want to leave too, should such a digital realm exist.
20. Oz (The Wizard of Oz Franchise): Lyman Frank Baum’s Oz was one of the very imaginary worlds to hit the silver screen, and till today, its gorgeous reinterpretations continue to delight. Conceptualized by Baum to appeal to children, while also spiced with hidden elements that would intrigue adults, the most famous landmarks of OZ are its single-colored wonders. Wonders such as the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City.
21. Pandora (Avatar): James Cameron’s Pandora is essentially a cross-genre creation, an extraterrestrial world threatened by aggressive (Earth) future-tech while also alive with shamanistic magic, great flying beasts, and floating mountains. Many lifeforms on Pandora possess bio-luminescent abilities, allowing them to glow in the dark. In addition, the flora of the moon is also electrochemically interlinked, thus forming a worldwide sentience known to the native Na'vi race as Eywa.
22. Panem (The Hunger Games Franchise): Another alternate Earth in a dystopian future, Suzanne Collins’s Panem is said to be the remnants of North America after a series of ecological disasters and a devastating war. As is well known among movie buffs, the totalitarian state is divided into various districts, each district responsible for one type of production and governed by an iron hand by the Capitol. From the movie trilogy starring Jennifer Lawrence, it is also obvious that Panem possesses technology more advanced than ours, although such tech is near entirely used for oppression and the brutal Hunger Games. In all, Panem is not a place you’d ever want to live in even if you’re an esteemed citizen of the Capitol. Who knows? Your luck may run out and you end up fighting for your life in the games.
23. Solaris (Solaris): Based on the 1961 novel by Stanisław Lem, the eponymous planet in the 1972 film is among the most mysterious imaginary worlds ever created. The entire surface of the planet is covered by a sentient ocean, one completely beyond human comprehension and capable of manifesting reality. The purpose of the ocean’s seemingly rational actions remains a topic of discussion among literary and film aficionados.
24. Star Trek Planets (Star Trek Franchise): As like the case for the Star Wars galaxy, imaginary worlds in the Star Trek universe are too many to include in one list. The following are the major locations from the feature films:
- Earth: While not entirely free of crises, Star Trek’s Earth reflects creator Gene Roddenberry's vision for humanity. That of a united human race devoted to peace, inclusivity, and exploration. “Sol III” was also the headquarters of Starfleet.
- Vulcan: Canonically, the Vulcans were the first alien race to make contact with the humans. Renowned for their stoicism and staunch faith in logic, the Vulcans’ homeworld was hot and harsh, largely covered by deserts and mountains. In the alternate timeline of the 2009- film series, Vulcan was completely destroyed by a black hole bomb.
- Genesis: The planet created by the Genesis Device following the events of The Wrath of Khan. It was described as having “all the varieties” of Earth’s climate and geology within a few hours’ walk.
- Nimbus III: The site of the hostage situation in The Final Frontier. Located in the Neutral Zone and desert-like.
- Sha Ka Ree: A planet at the center of the galaxy, believed to be where creation began. Protected by a barrier and the prison of an entity that was both god-like and malicious.
- Rura Penthe: An icy asteroid prison in The Undiscovered Country. Its environment was so harsh, prisoners on it do not live more than a year.
- Khitomer: A mountainous and beautiful planet in the Beta Quadrant. In The Undiscovered Country, it was the location of an all-important peace conference.
- Ba'ku: The place you’d want to be if shot by a phaser. The rings of the planet emit “metaphasic radiation” that both heals and grants immortality. A major location in Insurrection.
- Romulus and Remus: The twin planets at the heart of the Romulan Star Empire. While Romulus was temperate and with large bodies of water, Remus was harsh and craggy. The natives of Remus, the Remans, were also fiefs of the Romulans.
- Yorktown: Not a planet but a massive Federation space station in Star Trek Beyond. A symbol of unity and progress for the Federation, and formed by six interlocking city-size rings protected by a translucent sphere.
- Altamid: In Star Trek Beyond, a lush planet hidden within the Necro Cloud Nebula. Geographical diverse and lush, it was previously inhabited by an advanced civilization. Also, the final resting place of the Enterprise in the 2009- movie series.
25. Terabithia (Bridge to Terabithia): Unlike the other entries on this list, Terabithia is an imaginary world in both the 2007 movie and the novel the movie was based on. A lovely land full of magical creatures, Terabithia was invented by children fleeing from the unhappiness of their daily lives. In other words, it’s a mental sanctum for these struggling kids.
26. The City of a Thousand Planets (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets): Referred to as the Alpha Intergalactic Space Station in the 2017 movie, “Alpha” is actually Earth’s International Space Station after it has merged with numerous other space vessels. A bewildering metallic mess that is also, strangely, mesmerizing to behold, the massive space station eventually became home to a myriad of intergalactic species. It was so large that small vessels could fly within it. The interior of Alpha also contains different zones, habitats, and colonies.
27. The Gaming Worlds of Jumanji (Jumanji Franchise): What are VR and AR when compared to a game like Jumanji? This magical game began by altering reality around its players. In the newest movies, it auto-upgraded itself and gained the ability to suck players into fantastical gaming worlds. Within these worlds, which echo the settings of popular games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, players play as gaming stereotypes and can be revived twice before permanent death hits.
28. The Digital Worlds of Wreck-It Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph Franchise): An alternate version of the OASIS (see above), Wreck-It Ralph’s home was originally a series of interconnected gaming worlds. These realms, within the story, being games at an arcade. In the 2018 sequel, this “universe” was vastly expanded when the arcade was connected to the Internet. Other than all sorts of famous gaming avatars, popular social media platforms and notorious internet weirdness made appearances too. Finally, with the franchise owned by Disney, the sequel was a showcase, or show-off, of Disney-owned creations. The short of it, Disney fans will find this colorful digital realm a paradise to be in. So will gamers and social media addicts.
29. The Imaginarium (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus): It is more accurate to regard the Imaginarium as an illusionary trap, although its victims would often feel otherwise. An instrument of the Devil, the Imaginarium was capable of manifesting elaborate fantasies based on the desires of its victims. In the movie, it was the key device of a bargain between the immortal Doctor Parnassus and the Devil.
30. The Labyrinth (Labyrinth): It’s unclear whether the Goblin King’s world in Jim Henson’s legendary 1986 masterpiece is all there is to it. That said, whatever resides in and around the mesmerizing maze is more than enough to thrill the adventurous and the bold. The Escher-inspired mini-maze at the heart of everything is also the cherry at the top of the cake.
31. The Lego World (The Lego Movie Franchise): There are many reasons to love the Lego World. A slew of pop culture icons at their quirkiest is one. The ability to build anything, if you have master-builder powers, is another. Outside of these, what’s there not to love about this toy world with its brilliant colors and child-like simplicity? By the way, it is not a world but a universe. In The Lego Movie 2, the protagonists were able to travel from their hometown of Bricksburg to another star system.
32. The Moors (Maleficient Franchise): The Moors in Disney’s 2014 Maleficient might seem the usual enchanted forest with unearthly flora and magical beings. However, the 2019 sequel revealed that there are other magical places in this world, including an enormous cavern where tribes of winged beings have taken up refuge. There is also the medieval kingdom of Ulstead, which is as beautiful as any such periodic kingdom can be.
33. The Planet of the Apes (Planet of the Apes Franchise): It’s more than half a century since the first “Ape” movie in 1968, so there’s little need to conceal the big secret at the end of the show. The titular planet in the franchise is none than Earth. That is, an alternate Earth in the far future in which apes have achieved human-level intelligence while humans have regressed to being mute primitives. The apes, in magnificent cinematic irony, also despise humans and either kill, enslave, or use Homo sapiens for scientific experimentations.
34. The Wizarding World (Harry Potter Franchise): The most famous book in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is undoubtedly Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but even this great compendium cannot completely capture the complexity of J.K. Rowling’s amazing mythos. The modern synthesis of all European fairy tales and children stories before it, Harry Potter’s Earth is one that is alive with magic everywhere – magic hidden from us non-magical “muggles” by the diligent work of an entire ministry. Famous landmarks include the stately Hogswart School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the horrific wizard prison Azkeban, the headquarters of the Magical Congress of the United States of America, and of course, London’s Platform 9 ¾. One of the most beloved imaginary worlds ever created, the Wizarding World is sure to continue to enthrall audiences worldwide for years. As of end 2019, ten movies featuring it have been made, with another two in the works.
35. The Worlds of the Alien Franchise: No human of sound mind would want to visit any of moons and planets featured in the Alien franchise. Actually, no human would survive long on any.
- LV-426: One of three moons orbiting the gas giant Calpamos, LV-426 was foggy, rocky, and environmentally hostile when first seen in Alien. In Aliens, it was renamed as Acheron and was home to a human colony named Hadley’s Hope. In both movies, the Xenomorphs found the desolate world a delightful nesting ground.
- Fiorina "Fury" 161: A penal colony and foundry facility that was the main setting for Aliens 3.
- LV-223: Another moon of Calpamos, the atmosphere and terrain of LV-223 resemble Earth, although the much higher composition of Carbon Dioxide makes it inhabitable for humans. In Prometheus, human scientists discovered an abandoned alien outpost here. They also had their first invasive encounter with the predecessors of the Xenomorphs.
- “The Engineers’ Planet”: The unnamed planet in Alien: Covenant has an Earth-like surface as well as deserted ruins of a once-great civilization. Here, the android “David” experimented with and eventually perfected the horrific Xenomorphs.
36. Thra (The Dark Crystal Franchise): Jim Henson’s 1982 masterpiece was a milestone for the Animatronics industry but it wasn’t till the 2019 Netflix prequel series that we had a true extensive look at the besieged world of Thra. In a nutshell, Thra was the home of the Crystal of Truth – its lifeforms also the nurturing source for this all-powerful artifact. Alive, hauntingly beautiful, and full of races and creatures specifically created for the Franchise, Thra is a unique world unlike any other created. Of note, the premise of the Crystal turning dark is considered by many to be a metaphor for environmental exploitation. Given the concerns of today, is there a better time to take a closer look at this dying world?
37. Toon Town (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?): Toon Town isn’t an imaginary world by itself. Neither is it the zone the Toons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit are confined to. But consider this, wouldn’t you want to live in a world where your favorite (American) cartoon character can walk side-by-side with you? Wouldn’t Toon Town be your favorite go-to designation on holidays or when you’re feeling down? It would be the case for me.
38. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory): Is it right to consider a factory as an entire world? You would say yes if you’ve seen any of the TV or movie adaptations of Roald Dahl’s peculiar novel. Incredibly complex and full of sights you definitely wouldn’t associate with a factory, it’s hard to say for sure how large Willy’s setup actually is. There is also the constant unspoken suggestion that the factory is itself a gateway to another world.
39. Wonderland (Alice in Wonderland Franchise): Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland is the perfect example of an imaginary world that is both fascinating and terrifying. In spite of its beauty and adorable creatures, weirdness and danger lurk around every corner. Some fans of the franchise also consider Alice’s adventures in Wonderland to be the girl’s irreversible descent into insanity. To these fans, there’s meaning hidden behind every creature, every sight, and every incident in this bizarre realm.
40. Xandar (Guardians of the Galaxy Franchise): The home of the Nova Corps was a major setting in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and what was seen certainly impresses. Unlike many other such imaginary alien worlds, the homeworld of the Xandarians was a harmonious blend of futuristic buildings and lush parks, with an abundance of water and clear blue skies too. Had Thanos not subsequently decimated the world for the Power Stone, this would have been the perfect planet in the Andromeda Galaxy to live on.
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© 2019 Kuan Leong Yong