A true Star Wars legend has passed away. Colin Cantwell passed away at his home in Colorado at the age of 90 years old. The creative man was behind some of the most iconic elements of the franchise. He was responsible for designing the X-Wing, Tie Fighters, Star Destroyer, and the very first Death Star base. Without Cantwell, there would not have been some of the most iconic spacecraft that carried through decades. His designs were created in the 1970s and are still featured to this day. In fact, the most recent X-Wing was brought in when Luke appeared in The Mandalorian. Cantwell is a true legend of the franchise.
Colin Cantwell had a storied career that began when he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received a degree in animation, which would lead to him receiving a special invitation to Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture from Frank Lloyd himself. Cantwell would go on to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, where he was a source for Walter Cronkite during the moon landing in 1969. Cantwell would have special effects credits in 2001: A Space Odyssey, dialogue credits in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and consulted on computer graphics in WarGames. Simply put, the man was a creative genius behind a great many iconic films in the industry.
Colin Cantwell also shared a story about the creation of the trench in the original Death Star. According to the creator, “I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but when I was working with the mold, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle,” he added, “It would have taken a week of work just to fill and sand and re-fill this depression. So, to save me the labor, I went to George and suggested a trench.” It’s quite hilarious that one of the most iconic aspects of A New Hope was a simple creation error that turned into arguably one of the most important scenes in cinema history. Without that trench, Luke might have never used the force to shoot his proton torpedos into the shaft of the Death Star, Han Solo might have never saved the day, and Star Wars could have been forever changed.
It is no secret that Colin Cantwell changed the shape of the films forever. The Death Star was even brought back in Return of the Jedi. This iconic base has been featured in so many pop culture references, including the Tie Fighter. The Star Destroyer became one of the most feared ships in the entire franchise, and that was thought of by Cantwell as well. Those ships were also featured when The Emperor returned in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.
We salute Colin Cantwell for changing sci-fi forever with his designs, and other contributions to some seriously iconic films. Cantwell has led a life full of creativity that has changed millions of lives. Star Wars might not have been the same without these ships, especially considering how nefarious both the Death Star and Tie Fighters looked. Rest in peace, Mr. Cantwell. Thank you for creating some of the most iconic designs that have been popular for 50 years. Cantwell is survived by his partner of 24 years, Sierra Dall.