If you are having a discussion about visual effects, leaving Joe Johnston out of it would be doing yourself a disservice. He was an effects artist on the first two Star Wars films, and was art director for Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. His work on Raiders even won him an Academy Award. He has also directed two of my favorite superhero movies of all time, The Rocketeer and Captain America: The First Avenger.
To help whet our whistles for The Force Awakens this December, the good folks over at Imgur have released a gallery of concept art from Johnston for The Empire Strikes Back. Among these awesome drawings are the original concepts for the AT-ATs, or Imperial Walkers. This picture shows an early idea of a rear turret:
While the idea was cool, the 13-year-old in me is laughing at the reason it was probably scrapped.
These Imperial Tanks were actually used during Episode III, but were originally designed by Johnston for use in ESB. Now, while the AT-ATs are big and menacing, having a tank that can maneuver through snow quickly would have been much more practical. Then again, the title of the movie WAS Empire Strikes Back. They were pretty much given the win this round.
While not concept art for Empire, this is probably my favorite of the drawings. It’s a pair of rusted AT-STs from the Battle of Endor, 30 years after Return of the Jedi. Maybe this art is depicted in The Force Awakens. I would definitely be a fan of that.
You can check out the rest of the art in the gallery below.
What do you think? Is there anything from the concept art you wished made the actual film? Are you even more excited for The Force Awakens? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.