What’s Star Wars without helmets? From the get-go, Star Wars filmmakers have depended on helmets to communicate evil intent and mystery to the audience. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best of them — from clones to Mandalorians, these are nine of our favorites.
The Mandalorian culture is one that means different things to different people. But one thing that will forever be linked with Mandalore is its legendary, incredible armor design. From Sabine Wren and Bo-Katan Kryze to Pre Vizla — and, yes, let’s also not forget the Boba and Jango Fett (who aren’t even Mando by birth!) — the Mandolorian helmet is as legendary and unique as those who wear it. And it’s now synonymous with Star Wars‘ greatest new hero, the Mandalorian.
The simple T-shaped visor, the drop-down viewfinder/antenna, and tough-as-nails beskar construction all make this the absolute coolest headgear anyone, loyal clan member, and dangerous bounty hunter alike, could don.
2. Imperial Stormtrooper
The original trilogy’s stormtrooper is perhaps the most iconic helmet in the galaxy. When you look into the visage of an Imperial stormtrooper, you’re looking into the face of the entire Empire. These faceless warriors advertise their reputation before they start shooting: one of the last things you might see as the Empire invades is a wave of skull-faced warriors descending on you.
Sure, as Luke Skywalker notes, the helmets are hard to see out of. But fear is a powerful weapon, making the frightening Imperial Stormtrooper helmet one for the ages.
3. Darth Vader
Anakin Skywalker’s life-support mask is probably the scariest in the saga. With its tapered, samurai-inspired helmet, bulging eyes, knife-like cheeks, and screaming front grille, Vader embodies the ferocity and power of the Sith. With such an intense visage, Vader can terrify with a simple turn of the head or glare before he even lifts a finger.
4. Clone Troopers
During the major phases of the Clone Wars, the clones wore two significant variants of bucket: the original, and the Phase II types. The “Boys in White” started off with pretty awesome helmets, featuring a big fin on the top, and a Mandolorian-inspired visor. The fin on the helmet was painted different colors to denote rank.
The second phase helmets have what looks to be an improved breath filter system, a smaller fin up top, larger lenses, and were often adorned with painted decorations, like the Ahsoka Tano-inspired livery of the 332nd Company, or the red dashes on the clone shock troopers who acted as part of the Coruscant Guard.
5. Kylo Ren
As the master of the Knights of Ren, Kylo Ren proudly wears his custom helmet, projecting a new icon of fear and oppression into the galaxy. This combat-grade helmet’s weathered exterior hints at the horrors Kylo Ren has unleashed on anyone in his way. Its gleaming chrome stripes accent the aggressive tinted lens through which Kylo views a twisted version of the galaxy. The small but noticeable flare on the back of the helmet signals Kylo’s birthright and pays homage to Darth Vader himself.
Kylo destroyed his helmet in a fit of rage after Snoke dismissed it in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but it was repaired in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, making a triumphant return.
6. Imperial Red Guard
The Emperor’s trusted protectors come from a long lineage of bodyguards, going all the way back to the days of the Republic. These smooth helmets feature a simple eyeslit and little else, lending them a creepy, expressionless look that fully hides the intent of the wearer.
During the rise of Palpatine, the guard helmets transformed from an open-faced, blue plasteel with a decorative comb on the top to a fully-enclosed design in a deep red. Could it be that the change in aesthetic signaled the shift away from an open democracy and towards a dictatorship?
7. Sidon Ithano
This Delphidian pirate of many nicknames has a flair for the theatrical, making his awesome crimson mask a shoo-in for this list. Even though Captain Ithano is a humanoid alien, he wears a Kaleesh mask with blacked-out eyeholes to hide his true identity. Its wide side-spikes give Ithano a distinctive look that probably works in his favor, especially when negotiating payment once a job’s complete.
8. Ubese Helmet
When you need a disguise — let’s say for a daring rescue mission — you can’t go wrong with the classic Ubese helmet. Its nifty top-mounted display, prominent mouthpiece, and asymmetrical shape make it distinct. Yet it doesn’t put form over function: it hides facial expressions and its speech scrambler masks any voice perfectly. Your own friends won’t suspect someone who loves them is wearing this helmet!
9. Death Trooper
Imperial troops are menacing as-is but these guys? Bone-chilling! Their jet-black helmets have lighted green accents, making them extra eerie. The death trooper’s longer, lean, and slightly angular helmet is threatening from the get-go, giving the black-on-black getup a look that will have you questioning whether these elite troops are droids, humans…or something else entirely.
Brendan Nystedt was very afraid of Darth Vader hiding under his bed when he was five years old. Please follow him on Twitter @bnystedt!
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