Apparently, Star Wars brass wanted a genderless design for the Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) villain Darth Revan.
Since Revan's debut in the 2003 Xbox classic, the character has become beloved amongst a certain contingent of the Star Wars fandom.
Despite not getting a lot of play since then, only really popping up in KOTOR-related projects, Revan has remained popular. He is even rumored to appear in the Disney Star Wars canon at some point in the future.
But much of what makes Revan so interesting to many is the shroud of mystery that surrounds the Sith.
Star Wars Wanted a Genderless Revan
According to Knights of the Old Republic art director John Gallagher, making Darth Revan genderless in the beloved RPG was a direct order from the upper levels of Star Wars management.
Gallagher told io9 that there were guidelines from Lucasfilm when creating the character to make him "indeterminate whether you’re male or female:"
io9: "What were some of those guidelines for Revan?"
Gallagher: "'Mysterious.' Indeterminate whether you’re male or female, with an inscrutable mask. Let’s get the eye slots like a Mandalorian but a little more tribal. So I started looking [for] inspiration [among] mid-African tribes of the 16th, 17th, 18th century, and what some of their ornamentation looked like. I lined that up with some Star Wars inspo and got Revan in about 20 minutes. I did one sketch. One marker sketch; and did an adjustment to the color. Then I was like, oh, there we are."
It is worth noting that Knights of the Old Republic originally let the player decide on Revan's gender, though the canon gender of the canon is male.
The former BioWare employee - who is often credited with creating Revan - remarked that he "was part of a very big team," and while he "designed Revan," he "just happened to be one guy in a long chain:"
"I have to be clear… I was part of a very big team. I’m not going for individual glory on this one. When people say I created Darth Revan: absolutely not. [I] designed Revan. James [Ohlen] and his team initially created them, and then the animators, voice actors, and programmers brought that character alive. I just happened to be one guy in a long chain.
I try to create characters with a memorable hook. James and I talked a lot … and we’d have a loose list of things we needed to touch on. [I was] given a three-line description, and I’d kind of ask him between the lines, 'tall, short, muscular, slim, elegant, mysterious. How do you see this character playing?'"
Why Darth Revan's Gender Matters So Much
While Darth Revan's canon gender has since been revealed to be male, back when the character was being designed, it was important that his gender remain a mystery.
One of the biggest moments of Knights of the Old Republic comes when it is revealed the custom player character is actually the Sith lord.
Given that KOTOR's protagonist is a player-created custom character with the gender of their choosing, having Revan's gender remain ambiguous helps push the mystery of the character and potentially helped to not telegraph the twist before it happens.
Then, when it is revealed the gamer is, in fact, Revan, having the character be either male or female - and it changing based on the gender option the player chose at the game's open - helps everything line up in-universe.
And with more and more KOTOR lore becoming canon under Disney, it will be fascinating to see what Darth Revan looks and sounds like if/when he pops back up.
Knights of the Old Republic is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC, and mobile.