Star Wars' Star Destroyers and X-Wing starfighters are iconic ships in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, but they could have looked considerably different. Like everything else, the X-Wings and Star Destroyers (among various other spaceships in the franchise) went through various design processes before appearing on the big screen in A New Hope, and the appearance that fans are so familiar with is not exactly how they were originally going to look.
It's no secret that concept art for major blockbusters tend to receive significant alterations before being finalized for their respective films. Sometimes even characters get minor changes, such as the Stormtroopers no longer using lightsabers of their own. With regards to the spaceships in Star Wars, they have been upgraded over the course of all the Star Wars films, but their original designs were slightly different than what people saw in George Lucas' first Star Wars movie over 40 years ago.
Twitter user WeirdlandTales shared some images of concept art by Colin Cantwell for A New Hope, showing the early designs of the Star Destroyers and X-Wings. Colin Cantwell is a concept artist and the designer of all ships in A New Hope, including the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star. These pieces of concept art show simpler designs for the X-Wing, which only had the s-foils and the cabin (with two seats instead of one), without any extras on the outside. The Star Destroyers had a less menacing look, with a different shape (a triangle with a rectangular extension attached to it), three big dishes on the outside, and an overall cleaner look.
Very early (1974/1975) concept art by Colin Cantwell for STAR WARS (1977). pic.twitter.com/P4YAbJQq1Q— Tales from Weirdland (@WeirdlandTales) September 30, 2019
In an interview with Westword, Cantwell explained that when he was designing the X-Wings, he was looking to give it “good guy” features, and the iconic foils come from the image of cowboys drawing their guns to fire. He added that the design was inspired by the concept of “people throwing darts in an English pub”. As for the Star Destroyer, Cantwell shared that when designing it, his question was how big it should be, and that the size of it was key in the impression it left on the audience. Both went through redesigns, resulting in the Star Destroyers and X-Wings fans now know, but the differences are not drastic.
Later designs only added to the exterior of these ships and spacecrafts, but the main concept remained the same. It’s always interesting to see how much ideas and designs evolve and how they compare to the final looks, and a universe as extensive as Star Wars surely has a lot to share on that.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019