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AI Reimagines Star Wars' Darth Vader As Samurai - The Results Are Extremely Cool

Darth Vader's immense intelligence and mastery of the Force make him more than a match for even the most skilled Jedi, earning him a high place across the galaxy both in and out of the "Star Wars" universe. And in this decked-out space society, one artist has proven that the Sith Lord remains just as, if not more, impressive even when dressed in more traditional garb.

Using the generative AI program Midjourney, digital artist HeroArtDesigns (@dreamaivision) shared what the beloved "Star Wars" villain would like as a samurai. To say the results are impressive would be an understatement. Draped over his iconic black suit, Vader wears a vibrant yellow kimono complete with often dark shoulder guards and a belt, as well as either a hood or a kabuto even more intimidating than his usual helmet. Among the coolest features is Vader's lightsaber. Not only is it now a stunning yellow color, keeping in line with the rest of his samurai outfit, but the handle is designed to appear like that of a katana.

Samurai Vader's overall aesthetic is a stunning blend of traditional and futuristic styles that fans would surely eat up if placed in an official "Star Wars" project. And it's no wonder, given that much of the franchise's appeal can be chalked up to mixing the old with the new.

Samurai were a major inspiration for Darth Vader's design

When "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" was released in 1977, it was unlike anything audiences had ever seen before. But part of why viewers connected so deeply to the epic space opera and its characters, whether they were aware of it or not, is due to the widespread cultural influences seamed within its fabric. Countless fictional and real-world elements, from "Flash Gordon" and John Wayne Westerns to capitalist democracy and the Vietnam War, laid the groundwork for the game-changing blockbuster and its subsequent franchise. The imposing Darth Vader, whose connections to samurai culture originated long before the advent of AI, was no exception.

It's easy to draw similarities between Vader's helmet and mask and a samurai's kabuto and men-yoroi, facial armor designed to intimidate enemies. As concept artist Ralph McQuarrie explained in the book "Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible" (via "Force Material"), "[George Lucas] suggested that maybe Vader could be in a silk robe that always fluttered as he came in, and he might have his face covered with black silk and have some kind of big helmet like a Japanese warrior." The creator took particular inspiration from Date Masamune, an especially powerful daimyo from Japan's Edo period. Like Vader, Masamune grew up in politically tumultuous times, had a parent killed early in life, and rose to become one of the country's most brutal yet formidable warriors and leaders.