There’s no doubt that Darth Vader is one of the most iconic and memorable villains in pop culture. From his raspy yet gravitas-filled voice to the chilling soundtrack that indicated his arrival. George Lucas ensured that the villain of his first Star Wars trilogy excited fans as well as intimidated them.

When the time came to finalize characters and designs for the prequel series, the visionary filmmaker trusted his designers to conjure characters from a galaxy far, far away. Not only heroes but the artists were tasked with crafting villains worthy of being in the same universe as Darth Vader.

George Lucas Rejected First Darth Maul Design

Darth Maul in Obi-Wan Kenobi??
Trained by the evil Darth Sidious, Darth Maul was seen as a formidable warrior and scheming mastermind. | Lucasfilm

Although it’s close to impossible to recreate the persona and magic of Darth Vader, George Lucas wanted something similar for his prequel movies. He aspired to a character worthy of the audience’s despair and one who could clearly show the skill level and mastery of the Siths. The outcome was Darth Maul, a scary villain who impressed not just with his red face, but also with his exceptional light-saber-wielding skills.

Lucas trusted his concept designer, Iain McCaig, to come up with a villain that is straight from a nightmare. The filmmaker did not give any further instructions to the designer and left him to use his creative liberty to see the character through till the end. However, what McCaig came up with was a character truly made of the worst nightmares. He had red ribbon-like hair, a menacing expression on his face, and metal teeth. Lucas was left frightened at the site of that design.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | via Star Wars YouTube

He then asked the designer to create a character out of his second-worst nightmare. This time around, McCaig did not take his words so literally and crafted a character with his face painted. He took this inspiration from clowns since he had nightmares about a clown when he was a child. We all know now that Darth Maul may not look anything like a clown but his appearance certainly send chills down everyone’s spines.

George Lucas used Worldly Inspirations to create Star Wars

George Lucas' Star Wars
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope | 20th Century Fox

Star Wars is a tale of epic proportions, telling the story of a man’s journey from good to evil. Many events in his life propel Anakin Skywalker to eventually turn to the dark side and become Darth Vader. Greek tragedies inspired Lucas’s take on Vader’s journey which ultimately was seen onscreen as Star Wars. Many other find their way into the Star Wars universe with magnificent Jedis who are like Japanese Samurai, and the iconic Han Solo, a character straight out of a Western flick.

The trilogies are a culmination of the most memorable aspects of cinema, combining everything from drama and romance to action and tragedy. As time passes, we see the Star Wars movies modernizing and adapting to the latest trends. Visual effects and the grandeur of green screen sets also take center stage. It is safe to say that Lucas’s legacy as a visionary filmmaker will be continued in more Star Wars movies to come.

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