It’s difficult to think of any character in cinema more iconic than Darth Vader from the Star Wars franchise. Everything about him kicks ass, from his evil space samurai skull-faced helmet, to his booming voice, to that amazing breathing sound to the way he dominates pretty much every scene he’s in.
One element that the character is never without is his menacing black cape, which manages to make him look even more inhuman than he already does. I actually can’t think of many examples across Star Wars media that have him capeless. He’s even wearing it the very moment he awakens in Revenge of the Sith.
But now, a behind the scenes photo from a rehearsal take gives us a rare look at a capeless Vader, as well as revealing a little bit of movie magic about how the costume works.
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As you can see, the cape isn’t just there for style points, it also conceals a battery pack that powers the lights on the costume. And, if I’m looking at this correctly, it seems that Darth Vader is powered by five or six D-cell batteries. That looks heavy and seems like overkill to power a couple of lights on a costume, but then again, I’m sure they had their reasons for designing it this way. Plus, whether it be David Prowse or Bob Anderson in the costume, both men were burly enough to be able to lug this around all day.
As an aside, I also like that we get to see a helmetless Stormtrooper in the background. Maybe this was taken on casual Friday at the Death Star?
There’ve been several unsubstantiated rumors that Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker will make some kind of appearance in Star Wars: Episode IX, whether it be as a force ghost, a hallucination or in a flashback. It seems like an outside bet to me, but given that the cast have been quite explicit that the film is the end of the Skywalker saga, who knows? Either way, I’m not going to complain if Vader stalks the silver screen for one final hurrah come December 20th.