Jessica Griggs of New Scientist posits an interesting theory: that Saddam Hussein deliberately cultivated a public image based to Darth Vader.
You may have heard that when US troops stormed one of Saddam's palaces they stumbled across lurid posters by fantasy artist Rowena Morrill. But did you know that she's a close friend of Boris Vallejo, the artist who drew the iconic poster for The Empire Strikes Back depicting Darth Vader with two lightsabres crossed over his head?
Does the poster's image sound familiar? It is remarkably similar to Saddam's Hands of Victory monument commemorating Iraq's victory over Iran. The arch in central Baghdad consists of two bronze casts of Saddam's forearms holding two 43-metre-long crossed steel swords melted down from the weapons of slain Iraqis; the helmets of vanquished Iranians litter the base of the hands.
On inauguration day in 1989, Saddam rode through the arches on a white horse, declaring "The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own or to be forced down a path which is not willed by him".
Could this all be coincidence? Perhaps, but you'll be convinced otherwise once you've read about Saddam's private militia's uniform. Before his son, Uday, handed over control of the Fedayeen Sadaam (translation: "Saddam's Men of Sacrifice") to his younger brother he wanted to give his father something to remember his work by. So he presented Saddam with their new uniform: black shirt, black trousers and a ski-mask over which a strikingly Darth Vader-esque helmet was placed.