Darth Vader is easily one of the most well-known villains in history. Since his opening moments on Star Wars: A New Hope, the man has been idolized and beloved among millions of people around the globe. From his iconic black suit and imposing stature, to his deep voice and heavy breathing, it’s not hard to see why Darth Vader commands so much respect in the world of cinema.
It’s not surprising that with the new era of Star Wars movies pouring out of Disney, the company is hearkening back to the eminence of Darth Vader with the series’ new enemies. In fact, it was revealed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that the franchise’s newest Sith villain, Kylo Ren, relies heavily on Darth Vader for inspiration and focus.
One would think that with over 40 years of history and so much influence on the sci-fi world, there would be few secrets about Darth Vader. However, it seems there are many facts about the man that are still mysterious to fans of Star Wars. Some details about Darth Vader’s helmet are completely unknown even in circles of the most die-hard fans. Fortunately, we’ve gathered some details that will help anyone catch up on the lore and history of the iconic villain’s mask and helmet.
Here are Star Wars: 15 Weird Facts About Darth Vader’s Helmet.
15 It All Started With A Scarf
Interestingly, the iconic helmet worn by Darth Vader was almost not a part of the man’s wardrobe. When George Lucas and his designers originally set out to create Darth Vader, they imagined him in a scarf that would cover his face. It stands to reason, then, that the backstory for Darth Vader was likely very different then that it is now. Considering how much work the helmet puts in to keep Vader alive and breathing, there’s no way a simple scarf could perform the same task if Darth Vader’s backstory was the same.
As the idea for Darth Vader’s helmet began to materialize, Lucas reflected on numerous movies and historical figures for the design. That helped move the idea from scarf to helmet, as it became obvious that the villain needed something more imposing than a scarf to match the villain’s character.
14 Washington National Cathedral Gargoyle
Back in 1980, the Washington National Cathedral began construction on two towers on its West side. As part of the publicity for the new section of the cathedral, a design contest was started for the towers’ new gargoyles. The contest was created for children and was shared around the nation via the National Geographic World magazine.
The third-place winner’s design was none other than the fearsome Darth Vader.
It’s not surprising that Darth Vader would be included, considering how popular Star Wars had become in the previous few years. But thanks to that budding popularity, Darth Vader is now a permanent part of the Washington National Cathedral. Those who wish to see the gargoyle in person find him looking down from the cathedral’s Northwest tower.
13 The Iconic Breathing Sound
In today’s cinema world, movie makers can create entire films from CGI and computer-generated sounds. That wasn’t the case when Star Wars was first released in 1977. Back then, filmmakers had to be creative with how they showed scale and where they sought out unique sounds and visuals.
For Darth Vader’s iconic breathing, many would be surprised that the sound came from recording a scuba regulator. Sadly, the sound didn’t come from actors speaking into a spinning desk fan, as some young Star Wars fans may believe. Fortunately, George Lucas had sound designer Ben Burtt, who discovered the method for Darth Vader’s breathing. Interestingly, Burtt was also responsible for creating the sounds for R2-D2 and the movies’ lightsabers.
12 Samurai Inspiration
As mentioned above, George Lucas sought out numerous sources of inspiration for Star Wars. Lucas hearkened back to Flash Gordon, which inspired many of the visuals in Star Wars,Triumph of the Will, which helped Lucas create the final scene in A New Hope, and Once Upon a Time in the West, which inspired Darth Vader’s initial entrance in the movie.
Lucas was most heavily influenced by Seven Samurai, the 1954 Kurosawa movie about a group of samurai who protect a village from thieves.
Seven Samurai greatly inspired the Star Wars films, including the Jedi order, the horizontal wipes between scenes, and Darth Vader's helmet.
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see how closely Darth Vader’s helmet and suit resemble that of the samurai.
11 Something Like A Spacesuit
As mentioned previously, Darth Vader’s helmet went through numerous iterations before it was finally decided that he would wear his samurai-like helmet throughout his time in the franchise. While George Lucas and the designers were considering how to dress Darth Vader, the idea of the helmet came up as a means of allowing Darth Vader to travel between ships and still be able to breath.
Like astronauts of the last few decades, the idea was to have Darth Vader don the helmet only while in space, or when traveling in places where breathing would be difficult. In that effect, it would simply be a tool of movement, rather than of survival, as it ultimately became. Fortunately, Lucas and his team opted to have Darth Vader wear the helmet full-time, which added to the mystery of the character.
10 Crucial For Survival
Like his suit, it seems the lore of Darth Vader made significant changes throughout the initial development of Star Wars. That’s not surprising considering Darth Vader was actually the first character George Lucas developed when he was creating the idea of Star Wars. Along the way, Vader’s powers were adjusted, and his relationship with Luke Skywalker and others were altered to become what it is now. One of the plot points that was eventually added was how Darth Vader came to not only obtain, but also rely on his suit.
His suit became more of a necessity, with the prospect of him passing away within minutes were he to remove his helmet.
Granted, the canon found ways to allow quick changes and cleanings, but as viewers learned in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader wasn’t able to last long without his helmet.
9 Protect The Eyes
Filmmakers have been known to handle aspects of space differently, such as how the human body would react if it were suddenly thrust into the dark vacuum of space. While some movies would have viewers believe that nothing happens beyond a person struggling to breathe if left in space alone, others take the real-life approach and reveal that the human body just isn’t equipped to handle space without the help of some kind of protection.
In that vein, it’s not surprising that Darth Vader’s suit is meant to help the man from shriveling up when out in space. In fact, his helmet is specifically designed to keep his eyes from bulging and damaging themselves from the massive fluid pressure should he forget his helmet. Fortunately, Darth Vader keeps his helmet on at all times, even when dog-fighting the rebels in space, so he’s prepared in the event he needs to escape directly into space.
8 Sith Magic Enchantment
Much of the lore and history of Darth Vader can be found outside the Star Wars films most people are familiar with. In fact, there are hundreds of books, short stories, comics, and other media that contribute to the franchise’s canon. In these bits of storytelling, fans learn numerous clues about Darth Vader’s abilities and strengths.
It’s revealed that Sith priests used spells to protect Darth Vader’s suit, making it virtually indestructible, at least while he is wearing them.
This protective power from the Sith priests is also what allows Darth Vader’s suit and helmet to keep him alive. That’s why, despite life-ending injuries obtained in his fight against Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader is able to not only survive, but decimate his enemies with a flick of his wrist.
It’s no secret that Darth Vader’s suit is specially-equipped to keep him alive, not just from the attacks of others, but also of his devastating injuries from his battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar. In fact, his suit doesn’t just fit over the top of his body, but is actually attached to his skeleton, keeping his skeletal structure and organs in place and healthy.
With that in mind, there are very few parts of Darth Vader’s suit that can be removed or replaced. Fortunately, the Sith Lord’s helmet is one that can be swapped out as needed, though such an action needs to be done carefully and under the right circumstances. As was mentioned previously, too long without his helmet could spell disaster for Darth Vader.
6 When Vader Gets Hungry
Since Darth Vader is unable to remove his helmet for any lengthy amount of time, a unique method of feeding and dispelling waste were created. Sadly, the system developed doesn’t allow Darth Vader to enjoy the comfort and luxury meals that a man of his position would normally partake in.
Instead, Darth Vader must intake the disgusting but nutritious RepMed vita paste, which he sucks through a feeding tube inside his mask.
There are few details about how the system works or how often Darth Vader needs to replace his supplies. However, despite the obvious inconvenience of having backup supplies of RepMed available to keep Darth Vader fed, the fact that he has to constantly taste and smell the stuff inside his helmet makes his constant rage easy to understand.
5 Controlling Organic Processes
Understandably, Darth Vader’s suit and helmet are constantly working to keep the Sith Lord alive and in fighting shape. However, the suit doesn’t have to do all the work on its own. Darth Vader is actually able to control his organic processes through systems set up in his helmet.
One could compare this ability to Tony Stark’s use of the Iron Man helmet to keep track of everything happening to his suit, except in Darth Vader’s case it also means controlling what’s happening to his body.
When one first takes a look at Vader's imposing suit, it’s hard to imagine so much technology and Sith magic are housed inside, which are doing so much to keep Darth Vader alive and well. But that’s very much what’s happening, with Darth Vader himself in control of what happens to his body.
4 Environmental Updates
Darth Vader’s helmet does more than just control his body’s survivability and feed him RepMed, it also works to provide information about his environment and give him a leg-up against his enemies. As mentioned before, all it would take to end the Sith Lord is a stray laser that disables the suit’s ability to keep his body intact.
The helmet is constantly scanning for threats, warning Vader of potential problems, including anything that could harm him and end his life.
In addition to providing data about his environment, the helmet also provides details about how best to handle a particular situation happening around him, which in turn gives him greater strategic power over his enemies. Thanks to the aid of his helmet, Darth Vader knows which Force powers will provide the best outcome in a given situation.
3 Improved Vision
Along with providing Darth Vader the ability to understand and take advantage of his surroundings, his helmet’s eye visors give him the ability to see well-beyond the normal visual spectrum. In fact, Darth Vader is able to see in complete darkness - an ability that has undoubtedly helped in numerous fighting situations.
Considering how badly Darth Vader’s eyes were damaged on Mustafar, his helmet is crucial for just the simple process of seeing the world around him.
For instance, while a normal person’s eyes would expand and contract with the change in light level, Darth Vader’s helmet takes care of that process for him, which helps protect what ability his eyes have left. Fortunately, Vader’s helmet takes it a step farther and allows him greater sight than any other living person.
2 Connected Via Bolts
Star Wars fans got their first real glimpse into the inner workings of Vader’s helmet at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, when the Sith Lord finally removed his headgear to see his son face-to-face.
During that reveal, it’s shown how intricate the helmet is, and how well it’s attached to Darth Vader’s head.
Turns out, like the suit is to his body, Darth Vader’s helmet is attached to his head with bolts that not only keep it attached in heavy fighting situations, but also to keep his head from falling apart. Thanks to the incredible damage taken during his fight against Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader’s body is constantly threatening to fall apart. Thus, his suit is used to keep everything in place.
1 Sleep Is Elusive
Easily one of the biggest challenges with Vader's suit is sleeping. While such a thing is never really depicted in the movies, it goes without saying that even Sith Lords need their beauty rest. For Darth Vader, this means finding a way to catch some Z's while still wearing the entirety of his suit and helmet.
Naturally, this means he’s always uncomfortable and is never able to get a good night’s rest. Instead, he’s forced to sit upright or in a specialized unit that allows him to get some rest while his suit maintains its work keeping his body bound together and his organs from failing. Even when he is able to get somewhat comfortable, there’s also the fact that breathing inside the helmet is painful and undoubtedly keeps him from sleeping at any great length.
What were your favorite Weird Facts About Darth Vader’s Helmet? Let us know in the comments!