Darth Vader was supposed to look far more menacing than he did when fans first met him in A New Hope, according to this leaked early concept art of the character created by the late Star Wars conceptual designer and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie.
In an illustration shared on Reddit, there are actually a couple of designs that undoubtedly look far different from what fans now know and love. In the first one, the helmet is much wider in the back and the eyes make him look like he is constant anger, so when those peepers look at you, it would feel he could kill you then and there.
The grills used as his mouth were more prominent because of the soft T-shape of the face. He almost looks like he didn't even have eyes and that there were just black hollows where the eyes should have been.
This horrific design for Darth Vader appears to have been used as inspiration for Darth Bane, which is why he looks so scary in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Instead of a cape, he appears to be wearing more of a drooping robe that would have given him a more ghost-like appearance.
The other one was closer to what ended up being the final design for the iconic Star Wars villain. However, it is still more aggressive looking due to the angrier eyes. You get a better look at this one in action in a painting by McQuarrie below. As a bonus, this one depicts the duel of the father and son in a blockade runner, which actually didn't pan out in the original movies.
These concepts certainly made Darth Vader look a little kinder. Imagine being at the receiving end of a Force choke while looking at that nightmarish face!
Should Star Wars have gone this route? As scary as these designs, are you happy they went with what we got