Darth Vader‘s design is one of the most iconic looks in the whole of cinema history. It’s so much a part of popular culture, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine the one formally known as Anakin Skywalker appearing like anything else. However, these early concept pieces from designer and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie for the first Star Wars film – which we now refer to as A New Hope – showcase what could’ve been and arguably, these alternate designs are even more terrifying.
As shared on Reddit, this page of various illustrations from McQuarrie shows two different directions Vader could’ve gone in. Both depict the Sith Lord with a gaunter, more angular face-mask but they vary vastly with the design of the helmets, as the first is much shorter while the second is far wider and longer.
The eyes are also different, as the first’s are more insectoid and angry-looking while the second’s appear to be sunken and blank, which fits the corpse-like vibe McQuarrie seemed to be going for with that interpretation.
One commenter smartly suggested that the bottom right design was the inspiration for Darth Bane’s look on The Clone Wars. The Sith Lord did sport a similar shaped helmet and skeletal-looking facial grill in the animated series, as well as a general ancient samurai aesthetic, so that seems like a safe bet.
McQuarrie’s concept art has become legendary amongst the Star Wars fandom, with the recent movies also returning to his designs for influence. Rogue One featured Vader’s fortress on Mustafar, for example, which was something pulled right out of McQuarrie’s unused work for the Original Trilogy.
As for the villain himself, he was last seen on the big screen in the aforementioned Star Wars Anthology movie, but there are many rumors pointing to Kylo Ren’s granddaddy returning for this December’s Episode IX. These theories have ranged from Hayden Christensen coming back as Anakin to just Vader’s helmet being glimpsed, as it was in The Force Awakens.
Time will tell what ultimately happens on that front, but for now, tell us, what do you think of these alternative takes on Darth Vader? Are they better or worse than what we got? Go over to the dark side and let us know in the comments section below.