Although there’s plenty of aliens in the Star Wars canon, most of the main heroes and villains look human. But why human? The universe existed a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. In that context, it would make just as much logical sense for these characters to look like elephants, hippos, or rhinoceroses as it would for them to be human.
Thanks to New York based designer Blank William, we now have a pretty good idea of what that evolutionary split would look like. His latest project imagines a “new order” of Imperial Stormtroopers, modifying Ralph McQuarrie’s timeless helmet designs so they would snugly fit the aforementioned examples of African megafauna.
Each helmet uses a combination of white or black metal, and silver and gold chrome to adapt the Star Wars film’s iconic Stormtrooper look to the animals’ massive heads. They sort of look like props from a Muppets parody of the Star Wars film, except a lot more artfully made.
Although they look complicated, William says the design process for his New Order helmets was surprisingly straightforward. “The source materials, in this case Star Wars, animals, and a dash of samurai helmets and pilot masks, blended easily and so well together,” he says. “The hard work was really done by the designers of the original Stormtrooper helmet (Ralph McQuarrie, Liz Moore, and Nick Pemberton) and by mother nature herself.”
Asked if his helmets are supposed to make some sort of broader statement than just being fun to look at, William is pretty upfront about it.
“Not really,” he says. “It was interesting for me to think that I grew up in a world where my idols were Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Stormtroopers. In another time, animals like Elephants, Hippos, and Rhinos were once revered in the same way. For better or worse, we’ve replaced this reverence of beautiful, powerful animals with these amazing creations of pop culture.”