Some eagle-eyed fans have noticed that there seems to be a discrepancy in the appearance of Darth Vader between the footage that’s been released, one behind-the-scenes photo, and the original costume seen in A New Hope. Keeping recent speculation in mind concerning a certain scene shown in the teaser trailer, there may be an explanation as to why these differences are present – and why they aren’t actually continuity errors.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!
As seen above with the promotional image of Darth Vader (click above for high-resolution), his eye lenses have a red tint to them. While it’s not entirely clear from the image due to the darkness present in the shot, it also appears as though a portion of the fabric on his torso manages to wrap around his shoulder pads from beneath his cape. Both of these aspects were present in the character’s armor as it appeared in A New Hope, and many have praised Lucasfilm’s commitment to recreating the Dark Lord of the Sith’s appearance in a way that kept in line with the original movie.
So when the set photo below appeared through Entertainment Weekly, there was naturally a bit of a stir among fans.
Those who scrutinized the image noticed something very clear about it rather quickly: Darth Vader’s lenses are solid black, with no red tint to them whatsoever. Furthermore, there was a much more obvious difference present between this scene and the other one, and that’s that the cloth clearly went under his shoulder pads as opposed to over it. So many of the same people who praised the earlier costume’s accuracy have now let out a collective “WTF?!” on Star Wars message boards as they noticed that these are clearly not the same outfits.
As it stands, the design revealed in the Entertainment Weekly photo is a lot closer to the one from Revenge Of The Sith for the few scenes that it actually appeared in that film: Darth Vader’s lenses are solid black, and nothing is covering the shoulder pads – technically because there’s no cloth to begin with in the last installment of the Prequel Trilogy. (The above image is mirrored vertically, in case you’re wondering why the control panel has its buttons mixed up.) So if nothing else, Lucasfilm was at least consistent with that design, and they also had it updated slightly to more closely resemble the one in A New Hope. That being said, it still did not solve the problem. Since this is an immediate prequel to A New Hope, many believe that the design should be consistent with what we saw when Darth Vader first stormed through the entrance of the Tantive IV. So either the design seen in the promotional image was a fluke that was fixed during reshoots, or they actually went with it for one reason or another.
With all that out of the way, I’d like to present you all with a theory – we’re going to be seeing both of those costumes in the movie, and there will be a good reason for it. Since this is going to bring up that other article’s reveal, this is where a discussion of spoilers regarding the film will begin. If you don’t want to risk seeing too much about the movie, you should turn back now.
Remember this scene? A lot of people think of this particular shot when they think of the teaser, and many have even gone as far to suggest that it might not be in the final cut of the film because it hasn’t been shown in any of the other trailers or television spots. What we have is a scene of some unknown Imperial figure (not Palpatine) is kneeling before what appears to be a bacta tank – and whoever is in the tank is so important that they’re being protected by the Imperial Guard. Recently, people like Hard Case and I have noticed something in the background of another video that might suggest that this is indeed a bacta tank, and those standing guard have a strong incentive to keep the person inside safe from harm.
There’s no disputing it – what you see above is a mannequin of an armorless Darth Vader. He’s a quadruple-amputee with a right arm stump that is slightly longer than the one on his left. The scars on his head match up with the ones that we see in Revenge Of The Sith, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return Of The Jedi. And the mask he’s wearing looks a lot like the one that Luke Skywalker wore when he got dunked into bacta at Echo Base. So the pieces to suggest that we’ll be seeing Darth Vader in the bacta tank are certainly there – we just don’t have any more footage of this particular scene.
Consider this: what if Darth Vader’s body wasn’t the only thing that needed to be healed? After all, there are rumors that there’s going to be an action sequence involving Darth Vader at his most brutal, so while it’s likely that he’ll be handing out a lot of punishment, he could also take damage as a result of whatever carnage takes place wherever he’s dispatched. There’s no reason to believe that Darth Vader had only one helmet and one set of artificial limbs throughout his time in the suit, and indeed, the subtle changes that the suit goes through over the course of four movies suggest that all components of it were being modified whenever Darth Vader was in stasis – and whether he takes damage or not, he’ll need a resting place before he can be refit with the best armor the Empire can offer him. So the operating theory is that the earlier ROTS-like armor is going to be what we see before circumstances force Darth Vader to switch it out for what we see in ANH.
I should note that thus far, the image of Darth Vader near the top of the article is the only shot in-film that we’ve had a clear look at his torso. All other footage has either involved Darth Vader having his back turned to the camera or has his torso partially obscured. Aside from saving the full extent of Darth Vader’s role for people who see the movie, why do you think that this is? It could very well be that they don’t want to show off too much of Darth Vader because they don’t want to accidentally reveal that he’s wearing completely different sets of armor between two different scenes – and if that’s the case, the fact that they released a photo of the ROTS-like set of armor suggests that while we will see the ANH armor, it probably won’t be present for very long (or perhaps the other scenes where he wears it are either too spoiler-tacular or trailer-unfriendly that they just won’t show them until the release of the movie itself). Whatever the case may be with this little mystery, I’m pleased to say that we won’t have to wait long to get an answer – for most of us, Rogue One will be released in a little under a week, and we’ll all be able to see for ourselves.