There’s a good reason for Darth Vader’s suspected costume changes in Rogue One. It turns out, he’s got multiple threads in Star Wars, and he’s not bringing out the dress blacks when heading into battle.
Earlier this year, some fans were upset to learn that Darth Vader’s armor didn’t seem to fit in the accepted timeline of the original series. They pointed out that Vader’s Rogue One outfit should have had small shoulders, because that’s how he looked in A New Hope. However, footage of Vader from the Rogue One trailers suggested he was sporting the bulkier get-up seen in The Empire Strikes Back, which wouldn’t make sense, given when the movie takes place.
Executive producer and VFX supervisor John Knoll said there’s a perfectly good explanation for why Vader’s outfit might look different this time around. He said Vader probably has a couple versions of his signature getup. It makes sense. There’s no way he’s been sporting one outfit for decades. It would be rancid inside, and Vader’s got higher standards than that. Plus, how would it ever be cleaned if he’s sporting it all the time?
“I figure he’s got more than one version of those outfits. The reason the armor looks a little grungier and dented up in A New Hope is you’re not going to wear your nice armor into battle,” Knoll said. “Then, if you’re going to go talk to the Emperor or something you put on the nice shiny one, show some respect.”
Knoll said they worked hard to recreate the look from A New Hope while incorporating the better production quality that started with The Empire Strikes Back. They used a higher-quality mold for the chest plate, like in Empire, but the team added some smudges and fingerprints to harken back to what made Vader’s first outfit so distinctive, namely that it was originally molded from clay.
Rogue One hits theaters December 16.