The prospect of new Star Wars movies means that filmmakers need to come up with new ideas the fit into an already iconic aesthetic, from planets, to ships, to alien races. It’s a bit of a tough balance to offer something unlike anything that’s ever been seen before in a franchise that most people on the planet obsessed over for the past 40 years. But that balance can work. Take Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards’s new movie that kicked off the standalone Star Wars entries that take place outside of the normal episodic structure. While the geniuses at Lucasfilm thought up things like the U-wing that looked right at home alongside old designs like the X-wing, they also looked to ideas that were scrapped from George Lucas’s original trilogy.
The idea for Darth Vader’s castle was realized by iconic artist Ralph McQuarrie in the late 70s and early 80s, but it finally made its way to the big-screen in 2016. McQuarrie’s artwork even influenced the look of Jakku in J.J. Abrams’s The Force Awakens. Since there’s such a deep well of concept art to pull from, here are the unused designs we think should pop up in future Star Wars movies.
7. Metropolis Threepio
McQuarrie famously followed Lucas’s instructions to make C-3PO resemble the iconic Maschinenmensch from Austrian filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis. With its art deco leaning, blank stare, and golden humanoid figure, the similarities with Lang’s film are unmistakable, and the early Threepio design also recalls the hulking eight-foot semi-antagonist from another sci-fi classic, 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still.
With the entire world of Star Wars so ridiculously open to constant interpretation, there’s no reason that a new protocol droid design couldn’t go back to the beady-eyed original McQuarrie version. More robotified for the final Threepio design, the ominous look of that iteration could be great for something we haven’t really seen in Star Wars yet: an evil protocol droid.
6. Big Bad Bounty Hunters
The Star Wars galaxy is full of bad guys doing bad things, and some of the best in-universe designs have come from the motley crew of bounty hunters out for personal gain or Imperial mercenary work. It’s no fluke that characters seen for mere seconds in The Empire Strikes Back — like Dengar, Bossk, IG-88, and more — had robust literary lives outside the films in the now-unofficial Expanded Universe. But the standalone movies offer perfect high profile wiggle room to get some of the more out-there concepts into the Star Wars mainstream.
Case in point is McQuarrie’s creepy droid bounty hunter design from 1978. One could imagine a whole platoon of these robot dudes doing Snoke’s bidding because he doesn’t trust humans — besides Kylo Ren, of course.
5. The Superstormtrooper / All-White Boba Fett
The most revered Star Wars character with the least amount of screentime is clearly Boba Fett, but with a rumored standalone movie about the galaxy’s most notorious Mandalorian-armored gangster on the horizon, it seems people will get a bit more Boba than they bargained for. His distinctive armor was first envisioned for The Empire Strikes Back as one of five nameless squads of stormtroopers called “superstormtroopers.” But instead of the green and red hues he would first don in Return of the Jedi, his look was stark, monochrome white.
In the new continuity, Boba allegedly puts his own spin on his clone father Jango’s silver and blue armor, but whenever Lucasfilm gets around to making that Boba standalone, maybe he starts off with that stark white get-up — like the Imperial Mandalorians in Rebels — and graduates to the more battle-hardened appearance we know and love today.
4. Vader-loving Sith Lords
We got a slight peek at the Knights of Ren during Rey’s Force vision in The Force Awakens, but because of the surreal imagery, pesky rain, and the whoosh of Kylo Ren’s crimson lightsaber, we never got a solid look at what’s going on with them. We’ll inevitably get their backstory in subsequent episodes, and it’s safe to assume the whole gang, like Kylo himself, patterned themselves in the vein of the austere Darth Vader and general Sith Lord aesthetic that came before him.
Depending on how numerous the Knight of Ren are, it would be a haunting proposition if Kylo recruited a bunch of new potential Sith lords who all fashioned a visage after the Dark lord himself. The concept art above, from ILM artist Christian Alzmann, were early designs that predated what would end up being the Kylo design, but it’s a good starting point for potential multi-Vaders.
3. Early Chewie
The brave few of us who have actually seen the Star Wars Holiday Special have an idea of what a young Wookiee would look like because of Chewie’s alleged kid Lumpy. But because that infamously reviled 90-minute one-off program can be categorized as a crime against humanity, it might be best to just forget about it. Ewoks are basically little Wookiees too, but considering the upcoming Han Solo movie is supposed to tell us where everybody’s favorite smuggler and co-pilot duo came from, why not give us some awkward Wookiee teenage flashbacks while we’re at it?
McQuarrie began work on initial sketches for the sequel to Star Wars in October 1977, and the movie that would become The Empire Strikes Back would have originally included the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk. A cinematic visit to the planet was scrapped, but McQuarrie’s designs later surfaced in the Holiday Special and in Revenge of the Sith. But what Star Wars fan wouldn’t want to see teenage Wookiees even if they look like awkward hair stringbeans barely strong enough to pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose?
2. Han’s Original Costume
McQuarrie’s early artwork, known as the “Fantastic 5” painting, was created so early in the process that it depicts Luke as a female and Chewbacca in his original bug-eyed gigantic wombat form. There’s even the Metropolis-esque Threepio as well. But the most plausible and fascinating detail that could pop up in later Star Wars films is McQuarrie’s dashing early rendering of Han Solo, replete with a headband, a cape, and a lightsaber.
With recent rumors that the standalone Han movie will feature his mentor of some kind, it would be an incredible easter egg for fans to make whoever this trusted advisor turns out to be look like how McQuarrie envisioned Han in his “Fantastic 5” image.
1. The Emperor’s Throne Room
Rogue One is filled with fan-friendly callbacks, but only the most worthy fanatics knew that Darth Vader’s castle had been itching to make its way into a Star Wars movie for nearly 40 years. McQuarrie and Lucas envisioned Vader’s castle would turn up in The Empire Strikes Back, but the idea was scrapped when the story took them in different directions. But the pair never quite let the idea of a cavernous castle where evil dudes sit and ponder their evilness go. Concept art was created for a Emperor Palpatine’s lava-filled castle for Return of the Jedi, but that too was scrapped when the second Death Star entered the equation.
Palpatine has to show up again sooner or later, so why not give him the ominous throne room he deserves? Or better yet, give it to Snoke.
Photos via Abrams Books, ILM.com