↠ How many words does Darth Maul say in The Phantom Menace?

Jul 24, 2022

How many words does Darth Maul say?






31


That's right, Darth Maul only says 31 words in The Phantom Menace.

This is attributable to George Lucas trimming down the role he had in mind for the character prior to filming.

That 31 is 27 words less than the 58 words Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke as the Terminator in the first movie of that franchise!

We reckon Darth's boss, Emperor Palpatine, had much more interesting things to say anyway.

Who was Luke's sister intended to be in Empire Strikes Back when Yoda said 'No, there is another...'?

Jul 9, 2022

Despite making out in Empire Strikes Back, the Return of the Jedi ultimately revealed that Princess Leia was Luke Skywalker's sister. 


Given the kiss, it could not have been George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan's intention that Leia and Luke were twins. 


Indeed, draft scripts never hinted at this (just the same as early scripts did not feature Lord Vader being Luke's father). 


Ideas progress and develop over time and the best film scripts are born of many revisions - so was Yoda's like to Obi-Wan Kenobi that there was another hope a deliberate set up for an idea Lucas has or was it simply a plot device that was intended to be worked on down the saga?


Producer Gary Kurtz is said to have outlined what Luca's intentions were for Leia when he was asked to give a comment about The Phantom Menace and he was drawn into a discussion of the original intent of the saga films was to be. 


Kurtz indicated:

EPISODE 6: Leia was to be elected "Queen of her people" leaving her isolated. Han was to die. Luke confronted Vader and went on with his life alone. Leia was not to be Luke's sister.


So if the scripts never showed Luke was Leia's twin brother and Kurtz knew this was the intention, what did the early scripts of The Empire Strikes Back actually reveal?


Come on down Leigh Brackett - the scriptwriter of whom Lucas asked to take the first crack at the story.


Brackett's effort featured Luke meeting his actual father (who was clearly not Vader) and also his... sister. 

Introducing Nellith Skywalker from a Lucas revision of Brackett's draft:

nellith-skywalker-luke-sister

The now-defunct www.thesecretlifeofstarwars.com site (found on the Way Back Machine) notes that once Lucas decided Vader was to become Luke's father. 

Lucas then left it open in Empire and elected to make the twin relation in Return of the Jedi. 

This does raise the question of why Yoda says 'there is another' to Obi-Wan Kenobi if he knew Leia was Luke's sister - Kenbo was at Leia's birth and had rescued her when she was kidnapped as a young child...

The choice for Luke and Leia to be twins worked out well in the end and made for a good mild twist near the end of Return of the Jedi. 




 

How 'Robby the Robot' from Forbidden Planet inspired the development of C3PO in Star Wars

Jul 1, 2022


How Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet influenced the development of C3PO 


We've covered many of the influences that films and novels have had over George Lucas but Kitbashed found a great one in the form of the classic movie Forbidden Planet. I particularly enjoyed discovering how the famous 'Robby the Robot' had an influence on the robot that became C3PO.

While we have previously discussed how Ralph McQuarrie's design for C3PO was inspired by the Maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang's famous film, Metropolis and that his comedy duo act with his foil R2D2 came from The Hidden Fortress, it's Robby the Robot that sets the tone and inspiration of the 'goldenrod'.

Early C3PO design sketch
Early C3PO design sketch
How many times in the Star Wars movies does C3PO mention that he is a protocol droid that is capable of speaking some 6 gabillion languages?

A thousand?

Robbie the Robot did it first as he was being introduced to the human space travellers:

"If you do not speak English, I am at your disposal with 187 other languages, dialects and sub-tongues"

Robby the Robot's influence on Star Wars

Kitbashed cleverly notes that this example means that Robby the Robot is effectively a proto-protocol droid. C3PO's introduction to Padme in The Phantom Menace shows how he is modelled on this concept "Hello, I am C-3PO, human cyborg relations "

Word on the street has it that George Lucas has stated that the lumbering robot was not a direct inspiration for C3PO.

This is not wholly true.

In the documentary about science fiction films of the 1950's, 'Look at the Sky!' a discussion is had with directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas about Forbidden Planet.

Spielberg suggests that Lucas must have been inspired by Robby as he developed C3P0′s character. Lucas naturally suggested he was more influenced by Metropolis. 

That may be so for the 'look' of C3PO but Lucas totally stole the protocol droid idea whether he admits it or not!

There's a further reference or 'inspired moment' from Robby in A New Hope. At a point in Forbidden Planet the character Alta tries several times to summon Robby with her remote control, he excuses his absence by having been busy taking an 'oil bath'.

What does C3PO do when he gets to Luke's moisture farm?

 He has an oil bath and he exclaims "Thank the maker! This oil bath is going to feel so good."

And as we know now from the reveal in The Phantom Menace, Darth Vader is C3PO's maker, the line is doubly clever.

Extra fun fact: Robby the Robot appeared in two episodes of Lost in Space. That show also featured a robot that looks somewhat similar, THAT robot is the one that utters the famous quote "Danger Will Robinson, Danger!". That robot had no designated name but was formally titled "Robot Model B-9"

5 superbly subtle moments during 'Revenge of the Sith'

Jun 29, 2022

5 points that were quite subtle in the Revenge of the Sith 

Star Wars movies are not all run and gun. 

While many viewers just enjoy them as a spectacle, George Lucas puts plenty of subtlety into his movies. 

You just have to pay attention. 

For instance, did you know Star Wars was a commentary on Vietnam?

Lucas crammed Revenge of the Sith with some great little moments.

Here's 5 we found, the first being this cameo of Moff Tarkin sidling up to Vader and the Emperor (and in case you missed the obvious, that's the first Death Start being built out in front of them).

tarkin-vader-sidious-revenge-sith-cameo
  • A quick character cameo occurs when Vader and the Emperor are standing on the bridge of a Star Destroyer, overlooking the initial construction stage of the Death Star. In a blink and you'll miss it moment, a young-looking  Moff Tarkin quietly sidles up to the Sith Lords. Moff Tarkin features heavily in A New Hope, it is he who orders the destruction of the planet Alderaan. In Rogue One Tarkin's character is actually given an extended role. Guy Henry was motion captured acting out the role and a CGI version of Tarkin was placed over Henry's head. The character was quite great, showing a strong sense of ruthlessness in his ability to assume command over the Death Star from Krennic and to destroy his own troops left on the ground when he fired the Death Star on his own Scarif base.
  • During the opera scene, Palpatine tells Anakin about how Darth Plagueis was so powerful he could create life. While it's never made explicit, the film could have been suggesting that Darth Plagueis caused the 'conception*' of Anakin Skywalker. The Expanded Universe novels show that Plagueis certainly was capable of such an amazing act...
    Goodbye, old friend
  • Darth Vader's head was symmetrical for the first time in a Star Wars film. It was developed using precise machinery - the original was hand sculpted and was mildly aspherical!
  • As General Kenobi is about to leave to hunt down General Grevious, he shares a nice moment with Anakin which finishes with a very loving, 'Goodbye old friend' from Kenobi. This is the last time in the movie the two Jedi converse as friends. A key thing is the lighting - Anakin in the dark and Obi-Wan in the light - it is a literal case of foreshadowing what was to come.
  • Near the end of the film, Bail Organa and Jedi Master Yoda step into the hallway of Organa's ship and have a nice conversation about becoming. It's the actual ship that Darth Vader boards to capture Princess Leia Organa at the start of A New Hope, the Tantive IV. The ship was later seen again in The Rise of Skywalker and Rogue One.
  • After Padme Amidala dies giving birth to Luke and Leia, she is returned to Naboo for burial - her body has been altered to make it appear like she was still pregnant - this is all part of the ruse to keep the existence of Leia and Luke a secret.
  • But what was the most subtle part? The massacre of the Younglings by the newly minted Sith Lord Darth Vader was a pretty obvious move. While the murder is off screen, it is blatant what Anakin has just done. He has murdered innocent children. Nothing subtle about that. The subtlety is that this moment was set up and a call back to the prior film, Attack of the Clones. Recall the scene where in front of the Younglings, Obi Wan and Yoda chat about how Obi want has lost a planet (how embarrassing!). This is the same class (but with different students). Clever and chilling. *
Bonus subtle moment! 

Revenge of the Sith also featured a very cool reference to one of the films by a Japanese director that inspired the original Star Wars film.

We have mentioned before how Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress was a major influence on George Lucas. It’s no surprise then that Lucas deftly slipped in a visual reference to Akira Kurosawa’s famous Seven Samurai film. 

As Yoda brings his hand to his head, this is lifted directly from Akira's film:

akira kurosawa yoda refence revenge sith

* This scene was re interpreted when it was used in the opening shot of Obi-Wan Kenobi - Reva, the Inquisitor known as Third Sister was one of the younglings herself. Anakin left her for dead. The same as he did in Episode 5 of the Obi-Wan show - meaning she is the only person in the Star Wars universe to have survived TWO lightsabers to the torse by Darth Vader!

While Palpatine somehow survived, it means Anakin Skywalker never bought balance to the Force (Rey Palpatine actually did)

Jun 24, 2022
Anakin's shadow of Darth Vader
The Chosen One

Does Anakin Skywalker fulfill the Prophecy as the Chosen One?


... and if he 'did' plot-wise in Return of the Jedi, did it really happen if Emperor Palpatine is still alive?

It was The Phantom Menace that introduced the concept of there being a 'chosen one' who would bring balance to the Force.

Whether this was a necessary addition to the Star Wars canon is a moot point, it happened.

Anakin was considered to be The Chosen One as he was considered by Qui-Gon Ginn as a 'vergence' in the Force - his Midicholrian count was higher ever measured before.

Perhaps grudgingly, Anakin was accepted to be a Jedi in training by the Jedi Council - on the promise that he was indeed the Chosen One.

But was he?

He left things pretty badly at the end of Revenge of the Sith.

He betrayed the Jedi, killed a few more of them, massacred some Younglings at the Jedi Temple, force choked the woman he loved and he engaged Obi-Wan Kenobi in the most awesome lightsaber duel Star Wars has ever witnessed.

He became wretched and Obi-Wan lamented that Anakin was supposed to be the Chosen One.
  • How could such a betrayal mean Anakin was the Chosen One?
  • So does this mean Vader's son, Luke Skywalker was the Chosen One?
  • After all, he saved the day in a Return of the Jedi?
Right?

You better back the horses up Billy - let's have a think about what happened in Jedi.

Luke Skywalker beat his father in the duel, mortally wounding him as he did so. He then turned down the opportunity to join the dark side with the Emperor.

This led to the Emperor Palpatine raining Force lightning down upon Luke "So be it, Jedi" - to which Vader then betrayed The Emperor by throwing him down the pit, killing him.

This act is considered the moment when Vader brings balance to the Force.

So even though Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader and killed all thousands of people and Jedi and other Force users including his friend Obi-Wan Kenobi, he actually was the Chosen One who fulfilled the Prophecy.

It just came about in an extremely roundabout way - it showed the cleverness of the prequels - taking the existing ending of ROTJ and fashioning a grand story around Vader.

It really was good writing by Lucas and Hales.

Don't believe me?

George Lucas has stated unequivocally Anakin was the chosen one:
 

However, if you want to run a cheeky argument that Anakin didn't fulfill the prophecy you could argue that when he became Darth Vader Anakin ceased to exist (as Obi-Wan put it in Jedi).

Thus Vader was the chosen one.

But you could then argue the moment Vader decided to kill the Emperor he was again Anakin so it's a moot point really... and consider this - when Vader throws Emperor Palpatine down the pit, listen carefully - the Jedi motif is briefly played - signaling that yes, Vader is now Anakin.

At the end of the day, you could argue that Luke helps Vader bring balance to the Force - it was his belief in his Father that drove him after all...

HOWEVER

The new Rise of Skywalker however muddies the waters on this one. If Palpatine didn't die, then Anakin didn't bring back the balance to the Force when he threw him in the pit.

Could it be then that if Rey is the one that finally ends the reign of Darth Sidious that she is the one how finally brings balance to the Force?

Update: Since the publication of this article, The Rise of Skywalker Scriptwriter,  Chris Terrio has actually acknowledge the issue of Darth Vader settling things in Jedi:

“Of course, the sacrifice of Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi and bringing balance to the Force, we still had to honor that and I think we do honor that in the film. We don’t take the end of Return of the Jedi lightly at all, because it is one of the most beautiful moments in any film, really — in seeing what Vader does for his son. Return of the Jedi was the first movie I ever saw in a theater, and I remember just being rocked by what I saw in that moment. Because it almost never had occurred to me as a kid that the bad guy could cease being a bad guy and be a good guy. That moment when Vader lifts Palpatine was a genuine shock to me and it’s full of truth and beauty. We had to be careful about that, but if you look at some of the lore of Palpatine and the Sith and the way that George has embedded ideas about the Sith into the mythology of Star Wars, there are ways the presence of that character can still cast its shadow in the future. I guess I’ll leave it at that"
Doesn't convincingly say whether what they've done will fix this issue of the Prophecy being resolved. Time will till! Pretty sure they've over looked this key point in the Star Wars mythology given the wording involved here.

It is actually the Rise of Skywalker film that settles it. It is 'Rey Palpatine', Shiv's own grandaughter that settles it. She is one that kills Palpatine once and for all by using the will of all the assembled Force ghosts and her double lightsaber move, ending the Sith reign and restoring peace to the galaxy. 

How Treat Williams did a cameo in The Empire Strikes Back

treat williams star wars cameo

Treat Williams had a sweet cameo in Empire Strikes Back


It turns out that actor Treat Williams made a cameo of sorts on Empire Strikes Back as an Echo Base rebel in one of the Hoth ice base attack scenes.

Treat never intended to be, or was cast in the movie, it happened by a chance set visit. He was visiting Carrie Fisher and got caught up in it all.

Years later. Treat explain how the cameo happened in an interview:

"I’ll tell you the story: I went over to London and I was visiting Carrie [Fisher]. She said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to run through a shot?” And, I said, “Sure. All right.” And, she said, “We’ll dress you up and you’ll run through the soundstage a couple of times and that’ll be it – it’ll be fun.”

"I didn’t mention it for like fifteen years after that. Then, once I did in some interview a few years ago, all of a sudden I got more fan mail than I ever have in my entire life! I mean, people sent little dolls and little paratroopers – they still do! It’s crazy. "

You won’t find Treat William's name anywhere in the credits but some people claim he played the part of Jess Allashane. 

This is misinformation as Treat made a set visit in England whereas the scenes for Allashane were filmed in Norway. 

So how's that for a bit of random trivia? Here are 501 more bits of interesting facts.

Click the link if you want to see which other famous actors have done some cameos in Star Wars.

One supposed cameo that did not occur: Dustin Hoffman was not in Star Wars: A New Hope.

The 15 coolest bits of TRIVIA from OBI-WAN Kenobi

Jun 23, 2022

Star Wars fans love Star Wars trivia. 


They lap it up. 


More so when the Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ show digs in deep with massive amounts of call backs, references and trivia!

Here are 20 great pieces of trivia from the Obi-Wan Kenobi show starring Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christiansen.


  1. The communicators Kenobi and Tala use when skulking around the Inquisitor Fortress are the exact model used by Luke Skywalker and C3PO in A New Hope.
  2. The tired old Clone trooper veteran that Kenobi gives some credits to was indeed Temeura' Morrison - Morrison of course played the Clones in AOTC and Revenge of the Sith. He looks to be wearing a legit 501 uniform implying that he may have actually fought along side Kenobi in the Clone Wars. 
  3. The breathing lung that Kenobi uses to sneak into the Fortress appears to the be same kind that he and Qui-Gon Jinn used in The Phantom Menace on the planet Naboo.
  4. The homing beacon Reva puts into Leia's droid - mirrors the same trick Vader did by tracking the Millennium Falcon in ANH
  5. When Kenobi and Vader first meet and fight, Vader fights with only one hand on his saber, showing the strength he has over Kenobi and this he is toying with him. When he burns this, it's a literal raking over the coals moment, one which clearly echoes and calls back to what happened on Mustapha, you know, when Kenobi had the high ground. 
  6. The green coat young  princess Leia wears is a call back to the green vest she wears on Endor in Return of the Jedi.
  7. Did you spot the Dathomirian (Darth Maul species) that Kenobi beats up the drug lab scene?
  8. The girl trying to convince Kenobi to buy the spice drug was Ewan McGregor's own real life daughter, Esther Rose McGregor. This scene is perhaps also a call back to Attack of the Clones when Obi-Wan is offered Death Sticks in the Club. 
  9. This creature from Episode 2 is perhaps a reference to so-called Stilt creature that was ultimately cut from the original ANH film:
  10. The spaceship model Luke has in his room in ANH turned out to have been a gift from Ben.
  11. Leia's kidnapper that does all the talking is Flea, the celebrated bassist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Watch out, they're red hot!
  12. That indeed was indeed a C3PO cameo you spied during the political event on planet Alderaan.
  13. Vader's face mask has red lenses - this was nodded to in Revenge of the Sith - the part where the helmet is placed on Anakin's face. 
  14. Zack Braff does the voice acting for the Empire sympathiser who drives the truck that takes Leia and Obi-Wan to the Storm Trooper check point. 
  15. Kenobi reveals to Leia that he feels he used to have a brother but cannot remember because he left his family to become a Jedi. 
  16. Vader's act of pulling down the ship in Episode 5 mirrors what Starkiller did in The Force Unleashed
  17. When Reva asked Kenobi where he was during the assault on the Jedi temple - he was of course taking down General Grevious
  18. Tala's robot friend is called NED-B and is played by Dustin Ceithamer. You may recall him as the Smiling Man in The New Mutants. 
  19. The troopers in black are known as Purge Troopers and are tools of the Inquisitors. 
  20. Kenobi cracking open Vader's skull likely now explains Vader's scar from his reveal in Return of the Jedi:
    vader's scar explained

How did Vader get that scar on his head in Return of the Jedi?

Jun 22, 2022

Many pundits have wondered since Return of the Jedi, what was the origin of Darth Vader's scar on the top of his head?


You know the one on the Sebastian Shaw version of Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi?


Je te presente:


vader's scar cause

Fans have long wondered who did this to Vader.  


The scars below Vader's left eye? That's known.


General Obi-Wan Kenobi was the cause of that - when he had the high ground and left Vader for dead, the lava ignited Anakin and the scars were caused as a result. 


Vader clearly suffered disfiguring damage as seen in Revenge of the Sith:

Vader's revenge of the sith scarring


And those are the cheek scars seen Vader's Return of the Jedi visage. 


But what about the top scars on the head? 


Was it Ashoka when she opened up Vader's helmet in the glorious episode of Star Wars Rebels?


NO. 


It was not Ashoka, as he opened the right side of Vader's face mask:


vader's face  in Rebels


It's revealed in the season final of Obi-Wan Kenobi that it was Obi-Wan himself who scarred Vader - in their third clash no less. 


You can see in this screen grab that there looks to be a wound near the top - it was my 9 year old son himself who noticed this and told me that Vader's 'brain had been opened up':

darth vader scar caused by kenobi


So there you have it, if you were ever wondering how Darth Vader got the scars on the top of his head, it was probably Obi-Wan Kenobi as advised by my son. 


A cynical viewer however might say it was not this incident that caused the scars:

who caused vader's scar? www.starwars.com


But then, Kenobi's saber shot did go a long way up the head:


how did darth vader get his scars?

You be the judge?

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Review Episode 6: The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi

Hello there. 

Welcome to our review of the final Episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi show. 

Please allow us to ruminate before we fanboy over one of the Star Wars franchise's most significant moments in 20 years. 

The last three years have seen Star Wars fans treated to two truly delightful seasons of The Mandalorian.

That show personally helped wash the 'salty as Crait' taste of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker from our mouth. Sure both movies featured some excellent moments but each ended with a crash as the Skywalker lineage ended not with a bang, but a whimper. 

We then were treated to Boba Fett which started strongly but the switch from a 'badass assassin in a cool helmet' to a 'loveable chap' as a Dayamo felt somewhat unearned. 

Whereas Mando was a slightly episodic adventure which culminated in Baby Grogu meeting Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan's six-episode arc has been more a character study of Obi-Wan's mental trauma of realising he must protect Leia by facing his former friend who is now the most monstrous man-machine in the form of Darth Vader:

obi-wan final episode review www.starwars.com

Obi-Wan's Force spirit has slowly returned as he has faced off Leia's kidnappers, had a run-in or two with Third Sister Reva, a faceoff with Vader in which he was burned on hot coals as Vader played mind games with him, through to seeing a new friend die so that he and Leia may live. 

It's no wonder he aged so much from this time to the beginning of ANH...

And here we are, at Episode 6, the one where everyone heads conveniently back to Tattooine, to where an unknowing child named Luke Skywalker dreams of being a pilot, where Owen Lars dreams never seeing a Jedi again, to where Bail Organa will be waiting for his beloved daughter. 

It's a set-up for one of the most expected showdowns in Star Wars history.

Vader versus Kenobi with everything on the line. 

Though we know both characters survive, and while the visual feast of two former Jedi going toe to toe was a visceral delight, the real story is what this episode should be known as 'The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi'.  

For the third and not the final time, Obi-Wan has to fight his former friend.

The mental exhaustion has been telling. 

obi-wan final part review


The difference between Kenobi from the start of this show to the final episode is that gift that Leia has unwittingly given Ben, the gift of love.

His adventures rescuing Leia have renewed his well and his strength returned just when he needed it.

So let's cut to the chase. Vader and Kenobi have a doubly epic duel during each get a chance to really show their skills. Vader does some of the same kinds of actions that he did on Reva in Episode 5, yet Kenobi is able to match him move for move. Kenobi is given the chance to show is classic arms raised pose and display his Jedi fighting style. 

In obtaining the high ground over Kenobi, and leaving him for dead (in a mirror of the ending of The Revenge of the Sith) Darth Vader shows his continued arrogance and lack of patience. 

A defeated Kenobi's will is renewed when he thinks of Leia and Luke and the murdered Tala - a second round with Vader bears us to witness to the GREATEST Kenobi we have seen. We have never seen him stronger as a Force user and in strong and obvious echoes as to how Luke defeats Vader in Return of the Jedi, Kenobi defeats Vader, leaving him once again the broken man. 

Kenobi leaves Vader knowing it is finally over between them and that Anakin Skywalker is truly dead. 

The subplot of Reva stalking Luke was simply a waste of time. Reva's journey should have ended at the hands of Vader rather. The ending to this plot was signalled in the first episode when she taunted Owen. 

He admirably responds to her taunts but ultimately this story has gone nowhere in an exciting way, other than perhaps to witness a would-be Jedi has returned from her dark side.  

After a poignant farewell to Leia where he finally acknowledges he knew her parents and his recognition of Owen and Beru's love and effort with Luke put things in perspective for Obi-Wan as to his role.

His head thus being cleared of Vader and the love in his heart renewed y Leia and Luke, his head clears and his is able to commune with Qui Gon Jinn who makes a very welcome cameo. This signals the training in the ways of the Force that Obi-Wan will ultimately need in another decade is about to begin. 

Absolutely brilliant storytelling. 

And to top it all off, we got a cameo of Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor putting even more mental stress on the now fully formed Darth Vader. 

Trivia and references found in the episode:

  • When Kenobi says to Luke "Hello there" this is not only a call back to the prequels and A New Hope but a nod to Helle There becoming an internet meme over the last decade. 
  • Ben's "I will do what I must" and Vader's retort "Then you will die" is a straight up reference to their duel in Revenge of the Sith
  • When Kenobi acknowledges Darth Vader's claim Anakin is dead with "Then my friend is truly dead" this echoes what Luke will eventually say to Vader in Return of the Jedi "Then my father is truly dead". Even the 'Darth' line is a call back to ANH. 
  • Kenobi's blow to Vader's face opening up his helmet means both Kenobi and Anakin's apprentice Ashoka have done this. Each time reveals a certain truth about Vader's identity for each of them. This makes Luke's eventual redemption of Vader all the more powerful.
  • Kenobi cracking open Vader's skull may now explain Vader's scar from his reveal in Return of the Jedi:
    vader's scar explained

Bonus Image of Qui-Gon Jinn's cameo appearance:

qui-gon jinn in Kenobi cameo



The costume design history of Darth Vader, Nazi inspiration and all...

Jun 21, 2022

A brief history of the design of Darth Vader's costume


Kylo Ren may have been well obsessed with his grandfather Darth Vader but the rest of the world got there well before him.

It was in 1977 to be exact when Vader stepped into the Tantive IV and threw a few Rebels about.

Maybe choked one of them. 

As he did so, he stepped into movie infamy as one of the greatest villains ever.

We have a theory that one of the key reasons why that happened was the look of Vader.

He was like a caped black knight, spewing evil from that robotic face. Not to mention that terse, measured breathing that was utterly terrifying.

His costume was amazing. 

It was just sinister. Vader was a big deal, even before the most infamous reveal of his fathering of Luke Skywalker.

starkiller fights vader artwork www.starwars.com
Early concept of a young Starkiller dueling Vader

Indeed Pierre Christin, a noted comic creator who had some influence over Star Wars, had this to say on why we love Vader:

“A villain like Darth Vader is simply a cinematic flash of genius, destined to be a great film icon forever. The reason we fear him so much is because he partly reflects ourselves.”

So we love Vader because we fear him.

Got it, thanks French dude.

So what were the elements that went into the costume design of Darth Vader?

Who came up with him and his look?

And the meaning of his name?

Read on, Star Wars fan, read on.

How did the concept of Vader develop?


George Lucas is the father of Darth Vader.

When Lucas was throwing around ideas for his ‘Journal of the Whills’ concept he wrote down the name of ‘General Vader’ who he noted was an Imperial Commander.

The character was described as a “tall, grim looking general”. Lucas also wrote down ideas for 'Knights of the Sith', a character called 'Kane Starkiller' who was a cyborg.

Eventually, Lucas fashioned the character as a 'Black Knight of the Sith' who served the 'Master of Sith'.

Initially, Vader did not have his famous helmet. Lucas had suggested his face be obscured by a black silk scarf.

This was during 1975 at which time Lucas asked Ralph McQuarrie to turn this concept into a drawn character.

When McQuarrie learned that Vader (as it was then in the script) was to cross through the cold vacuum of space to enter Leia’s spaceship, he added the mask.

Obviously, the reasons for Vader needing the mask were made more interesting later on.

McQuarrie delivered duly delivered some concept art:

Early Darth Vader concept designs
Early Darth Vader concept designs

A costume designer by the name of John Mollo was given these sketches and told to get to work. 

Mollo was inspired by samurai influences (which would have pleased Lucas given his penchant for Akira Kurosawa movies) and Nazi uniform and armour that was used in the trench battles of World War I.

In keeping with this minor Nazi influence, Stormtroopers were named after specialist German soldiers from the same era. 


Brian Muir made the actual helmet and mask, fashioning early sculptures out of clay. He did his sculpting over a plaster head of David Prowse.

Here’s a great interview with Muir explaining the process.

Fun fact: Vader’s armour was given the serial number E-3778Q-1M.

That voice


During filming, David Prowse did the actions and also voiced the character believing he would be doing the final recordings as well.

Lucas had other ideas and tried to hire the great filmmaker Orson Welles (speaking of Welles, check out our Theory About Director Krennic's name) with no success. Welles did eventually voice the robot Omicron in The Transformers Movie.

This was just as well for James Earl Jones got the gig and Vader’s final ingredient was found. Jones recorded his lines in 2 and a half hours and received a small cheque for his time.

Jones also chose to not receive an on-screen credit as he thought his role was too small.

This was eventually rectified when Star Wars become a global smash again with Empire Strikes Back.


That claustrophobic breathing...


Ben Burtt invented the sound by recording him using a scuba breathing apparatus.

The microphone was placed in the regulator.

To get the sound just right, these recordings were played in empty rooms and re-recorded to get that ‘from the helmet’ sounding effect.

Ben Burtt became a mainstay of Star Wars for many years and designed sound effects for most of the saga films. 


Who was that old guy that played Vader in Return of the Jedi?

early vader helmet sketch design


During A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, David Prowse did the bodywork for the character. 

Bob Anderson did the heavy lifting / stunt work. 

Come time for the finale of Return of Jedi, there was a need to show Vader’s face.

It was the big reveal moment, father and son eyeballing each other for the first, and last time in their lives.

Veteran English actor Sebastian Shaw was hired. His scene was filmed in secret so as to hold off on the ‘surprise’ as long as possible.

It is Shaw who stands as a Force ghost with Yoda and Obi-Wan in the original form. He was eventually replaced by Hayden Christiansen in the Special Edition via the wonders of CGI.

Take note of the scars on Sebastian Shaw's version of Anakin - did Obi-Wan Kenobi cause them 10 odd years prior?

Coming back to Kylo Ren for a moment – When Luke Skywalker ceremonially cremated his father's armour on the moon of Endor in Jedi, Vader’s helmet featured on the funeral pyre.

In the real world, the specific prop was an old promotional mask that was used for the promotional touring that took place after the premiere of A New Hope.

In the movie realm, the mask and helmet that Kylo Ren is holding when he talks to his grandfather Vader in The Force Awakens appear to have been retrieved from the pyre.
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