10 Things You DIDN'T Know About the DARTH VADER'S SUIT (Probably)
Darth Vader is perhaps the greatest movie villain of all time. Part of what made him so great and so instantly iconic was, of course, his cybernetic, all-black suit. It was like the cherry on an already imposing and terrifying cake – or in this case, a protective layer around some horrifically deformed skin... Does anyone smell burnt bacon?! But what makes the character's clothing so fascinating has to be its many obscure details and hidden intricacies! From behind the scenes facts and trivia to in-universe tidbits, here are 10 things you probably didn't know about Darth Vader's suit...
Number 01. Sith Enchantment Kicking off with a fact from Star Wars Legends (come at me, Disney fanboys!), Darth Vader's suit was imbued with dark side alchemy. By enchanting each of the obsidian and durasteel alloy plates, akin to methods used by ancient Sith priests, Vader's armour became virtually indestructible. Even his right glove – a Mandalorian crushgaunt – was fitted around one of Lord Kaan's powerful Sith amulets. But if that wasn't impressive enough, he was constantly being injected with chemicals boosted by Sith alchemy. This amplified both his strength and constitution.
Number 02. Magnetic Boots Thanks to Nancy Sinatra's 1966 hit song “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, we're all fully aware of the primary function attributed to footwear. However, Mr. Don't-Call-Me-Skywalker used his boots for far more than just that. In fact, they were both magnetised to literally keep him grounded – hence his ability to grip onto metal surfaces, such as the exterior of his Advanced TIE fighter.
Number 03. Dark Side Spaceman In conjunction with his miracle boots – which I'm almost certain is a JML product – Darth Vader survived the vacuum of space due to the pressurised seal around his mask and armour. So with the integrity of a Class C spacesuit, which we'll talk more about in just a second, the Sith Lord could quite easily operate in zero-g. He was even equipped with emergency oxygen systems just on the off-chance he needed to catch a breath.
Number 04. Layer Upon Layer Even at the age of 21, my mother still insists I wear multiple hoodies and jackets when venturing outside. I normally respond, “But it's in the middle of summer!”, to which she replies, “We live in Scotland, we don't do summer!”. What I'm loosely trying to get at here is due to Darth Vader's fondness for stepping out into the vacuum of space, his suit required the same number of layers as those of NASA astronauts to combat the likes of intense cold, blood-curdling pressure, and harmful radiation. According to Star Wars: Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log by Daniel Wallace, the clothing of everyone's favourite dad comprised of ten layers divided into three categories: a sealing surface used by Imperial officers, materials for impact protection, and a final layer tasked with temperature regulation.
Number 05. Constant Pain I don't know about you, but the idea of being stabbed ALL THE TIME seems rather unpleasant. Heck, just being stabbed once would probably be enough put a damper on your evening. Nevertheless, big cyborg man was constantly being poked and prodded by a series of tiny needles. Whether it be in his mask or the suit itself, neurological and diagnostic data was regularly collected and stored in a permanent archive. To make matters worse, Emperor Palpatine lied about the specific purpose of each needle, claiming that they were merely tasked with injecting a pain-reducing chemical.
Number 06. Regular Maintenance Relying upon his suit for day-to-day survival, the co-owner of Breaths 'R' Us was rarely ever seen outwith his mechanical shell. Because of this, his internal systems faced regular diagnostic check-ups, not to mention regular skin scrubbing. In fact, dead flesh – at least in the early years – had to be removed from where Vader's synthskin met real skin. Essentially, Darth Vader was constantly being maintained just like any other piece of galactic machinery.
Number 07. Stubborn Hygiene As a video editor who spends hour upon hour at his computer desk, I know all too well the importance of changing one's clothes. Darth Vader, on the other hand – well, his views on hygiene were a bit more, shall we say, “relaxed”. So much so that instead of swapping his iconic suit for another, the former Jedi merely chose to update it whenever possible. But that's not to say each component wasn't interchangeable – hence his differing shoulder armour, as well as a more “polished” look when seeking an audience with Emperor Palpatine. And while this lack of a wardrobe still seems rather unsanitary, he was never too far away from scrubbing up in either his personalised bacta tank or meditation chamber.
Number 08. A Solid Backbone For this next entry, I need you to close your eyes. Actually, don't do that! You won't be able to read the subtitles... Ah, the perks of having a Scottish accent... Anyway, try to picture – if you can – Darth Vader floating around on some kind of hoverchair! What an entirely ridiculous thought, right?! Well, if it weren't for his cybernetic vertebrae, the Sith Lord's spine would have simply crumbled under the pressure of his suit. Moreover, the weight of his helmet was independently carried by his hermetic, electrode-studded collar.
Number 09. Beeps and Clicks Part of what made Ani Bobani so menacing and iconic was not his childhood nickname – believe it or not – but rather his laboured breathing. Originally, however, sound designer Ben Burtt added beeps and clicks to every Darth Vader scene as a means of highlighting the character's mechanical devices. Of course, this idea was scrapped as it became far too distracting and expensive. Can you imagine if the sound effects remained? What a weird world we would now live in!
And, last but not least...
Number 10. A Costly Costume Darth Vader's original suit of armour cost $1,173, which might not sound like much – but when you adjust for inflation from 1976 to 2018, that figure comes to around $5,210. You could argue A New Hope had a massive budget in comparison. However, I'm not ending this video until at least one person agrees with me that over five grand for a samurai-esque set of armour is a lot of money. Wait, what's that? No one's actually still watching the video... Oh, I may be here a while then...
So there are ten things you probably didn't know about Darth Vader's iconic armour. But what Star Wars topic, person or thing do you think I should cover next? Let me know in the comments below!