Top 10 Facts You Didn't Know About Darth Vader
Darth Vader in Star Wars
Tall, menacing, with his iconic armor, deep voice, and red lightsaber, Darth Vader has long served as one of film's most iconic villains. His betrayal over the Jedi and years of cruelty as a Sith make tarnish a once-good soul, but few would know it considering his brutal orders.
Darth Vader had a total of 23 years to serve the Dark Side, and in that time, he entered more battles and concocted more plots than the movies have time to reveal. So, what secrets is this half-machine, half-man Sith Lord still concealing from all but the most devoted Star Wars fans? Here are ten awesome facts you probably didn't know about Darth Vader!
1. He Wanted Master Rank to Save Padme
Okay, this one's more Anakin than Vader, but it's a keen glimpse into the Dark Lord's origins. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith gathered mixed reviews, especially with Anakin's seemingly-unwarranted outbursts. In particular, fans found him temperamental when he threw a tantrum about not gaining the Jedi Master promotion that typically accompanies a seat on the Jedi Council (which Chancellor Palpatine had appointed him to).
However, Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith novel fleshes out this scenario, something the movie likely removed for time restraints. Remember, Anakin is haunted by visions of Padme dying in childbirth, and he's desperately looking for a solution. Within the Jedi Archives lie a number of ancient holocrons about hidden Force techniques, some of which Anakin believes may help him save his wife. When he first learns that Palpatine has elected him to the Council, he's elated, believing he's found a chance to save Padme, only to have his hope shattered when the Council informs him he's not receiving the expected status. This provides a superior motive that turns Anakin's outrage from childish complaint to sympathetic frustration.
2. He Was Surprisingly Loyal To Darth Sidious
Darth Vader is far from stupid. By the end of Episode 3, he realizes how Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) has manipulated him with unfulfilled promises; Padme ended up dying despite Sidious's claims. Still, while Vader and Sidious would carry a strained relationship in the following years, Vader was surprisingly loyal to Sidious, neglecting to take several chances to kill his master. In the alternate legends timeline comic Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin, Vader even Force Pushed Sidious out of a bomb's detonation radius (which was later revealed to be a loyalty test, but Vader hadn't known that).
Before you counter by bringing up Galen Marek (Starkiller), you're right, in legends, Vader trains Starkiller to help him overthrow Sidious, but this is later revealed to be a ruse, as the real motive was using Starkiller to trap the Rebellion's leaders into one place. And you're also correct that Vader ultimately chooses Luke over Sidious, but that was a split-second decision, not the result of a coup scheme. As much as Vader detests his boss Sidious, he sticks with him because (as Stover's novel states) he's got no one else; the Emperor is sadly the closest thing to a friend Vader has remaining.
3. Darth Plagueis Is Vader's "Father"
In the films, all we hear regarding Darth Plagueis the Wise (Sidious's Sith Master) is a brief tale from Sidious in Episode 3, relating how Plagueis could influence midi-chlorians to indefinitely maintain life. This is used as a lure for Anakin, who Palpatine knows is haunted by visions of Padme's death.
However, rewind back to Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, where Anakin's mother, Shmi Skywalker, informs Qui-Gon how she miraculously carried Anakin without a father. Creating life isn't too far a stretch from unnaturally maintaining it, leading many fans to speculate Darth Plagueis (who was as much scientist as Sith), whether inadvertently or purposefully, had directed Anakin's birth through his experiments. Although now part of the legends timeline, the 2012 Darth Plagueis novel confirmed this, revealing Anakin was an accidental result of Plagueis's research. This novel isn't canon, but the 2015 Tarkin novel is, which used many elements of Plagueis's story, so regardless of which continuity you're exploring, you could definitely call Plagueis Anakin's "father".
4. He Rarely Uses Force Lightning to Avoid Ruining His Armor
Naturally, as a Jedi, Anakin was initially inclined towards neutral powers like Force Push or Speed, and had little experience with Force Lightning. However, why didn't he learn the technique upon becoming a Sith? Between Count Dooku, Darth Sidious, and even Starkiller, it's clearly a Sith staple.
Well, a few Expanded Universe stories reveal Vader actually does know Force Lightning, but he wisely avoids using it to prevent short-circuiting the life support systems in his armor. Vader's black suit offers a degree of protection, physical enhancement, and oxygen, but it's vulnerable to electric blasts or sufficient force, a weakness that's hindered the Sith in battle more than once. Besides, Vader has enough proficiency with Force Push, Force Choke, and Saber Throw to round out his ranged arsenal without needing the move, so he's not missing out on much.
5. He Once Fought Boba Fett
Although the galaxy's most notorious bounty hunter was a frequent client of Darth Vader, and the two shared a generally positive relationship, in the legends comic Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire #4, the pair enter an interesting battle. Fett carries a chest bearing an item Vader is searching for, but isn't willing to give it up (it's part of a separate bounty contract). Fett tries to blasts Vader with a variety of projectiles but is quickly overpowered by Vader's might. He eventually manages to land a shot by tricking Vader, but the Dark Lord quickly recovers. Fett tosses the chest, prompting Vader to telekinetically secure it, which allows the Mandalorian to escape.
I suppose you could call this battle a draw, but even with Boba's surprise attack, it's pretty clear Vader had him dominated. I enjoy the fight, as it highlights both Vader's raw power and Fett's ingenuity. They also battled in Tales #11 in the short story "Prey", but even in the legends timeline, that wasn't considered canon.
6. He Defeated a Darth Maul Clone
Here's another legends-only battle; after all, fans of the canon Rebels show know that the real Maul meets his true destiny there. But in the Star Wars Tales 9 issue "Resurrection", a group of Dark Side prophets craft a Darth Maul doppelganger (likely through cloning). They believe him to a "pure" Sith, compared to Vader's "taint" from having been a Jedi (Vader's ultimate redemption proves their point). The prophets send this Maul clone to combat Vader, and the two engage in a climatic battle.
At first, the pair seem evenly matched, but when Vader slices Maul's saberstaff in two, letting him wield each blade individually, Vader is quickly overwhelmed by the Zabrak's savage Jar'Kai form. Maul gains the advantage and disarms Vader, but the Dark Lord manages to reclaim his sword just in time to land a killing blow, with some powerful final dialogue for dramatic effect:
Maul: What could you hate enough to destroy me?
7. He Costs Leia Her Position in the Senate
No, no, I'm talking about the instance shown in Episode 4 above; being outed as a Rebel certainly didn't help Leia's faux Imperial position, but the Emperor was about to dissolve the Senate anyway. This one actually occurs in the canon that follows the new trilogy of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, albeit before Episodes 7 and 8 take place. Leia's a diplomat at heart, and after Episode 6: Return of the Jedi, she joinsthe Galactic Senate to help guide the new government. However, when details of her true heritage are releas, Leia's reputation plummets. After all, Vader was widely despised by both the remnants of the Rebellion (for his years of warfare against them) and the Empire (who largely considered him a traitor due to his final actions).
Thus, Leia's connection to perhaps the most influential figure in galactic history worked against her. Her ancestry was revealed due to the schemes of First Order agent Carise Sindian, who publicly played an old recording of Leia's adoptive father Bail Organa explaining the truth of her lineage. While this detrimented Leia's political career, legends fans may remember that in the alternate timeline, she served as Chief of State for the New Republic, essentially spearheading the entire galaxy. Afterwards, she became a well-respected Jedi/diplomat blend, so it's not all bad for the Princess. In this continuity, she even named her third child Anakin in remembrance of her father.
8. He Learned to be a Force Ghost From Obi-Wan/Yoda
Film buffs may recall that Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda were able to manifest as blue Force Ghosts after their death, seen in the final party on Endor in RotJ, a trick that Obi-Wan and Yoda learned through Qui-Gon Jinn's spirit. It's a Light Side power of eternal life that's ironically out of reach for the Sith, who want immortality but can never grasp it while affiliated with evil. So, where did Darth Vader learn the move?
Well, we've got several conflicting EU sources, but most point to Obi-Wan and Yoda's spirits guiding Vader after his death. It's also fair to imagine that Vader, after killing Obi-Wan and seeing his body disappear in A New Hope, was at least familiar with (if perhaps not yet able to perform) the technique. Some stories credit Sidious with teaching it to Vader, but I find this unlikely, as it's a Light Side move; Dark Side methods for prolonged life generally involve unnaturally extended lifespans or soul transfers into younger bodies.
9. He Recognized C-3PO in Cloud City
Recall Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back, widely considering the best Star Wars movie. After Lando Calrissian's betrayal near the climax, Vader holds Han, Leia, and Chewbacca hostage in Bespin's Cloud City. As we saw, Threepio had previously been shot by a Stormtrooper after wandering into a restricted area. What we didn't see is revealed in the legends issue "Thank the Maker" of Star Wars Tales 6.
Here, while the Rebels are captured, an Imperial officer brings Threepio's blasted body to Vader, asking what to do with it. Vader initially orders the parts to be discarded and recycled (in the film, we see Chewie retrieve them from a scrap heap). However, after recalling some haunted memories of his childhood on Tatooine regarding his building of Threepio and his mother's words about responsibility, Vader relents, allowing the Rebels to have the golden droid returned to them.
This was an awesome comic that spoke volumes with just a few pages. Not only does it directly coincide with the plot of Episode 5, it explains why Threepio was returned to Chewie and shows a rare moment of remembrance and mercy in Vader.
10. He Dueled Luke (And Leia) Before Episode 5
A few female Jedi and Sith initiates received the spotlight in The Clone Wars, like Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress, but it wasn't until Rey's appearance in Episode 7 that women received the film warrior they deserve. That said, in the legends timeline, Leia not only eventually grew to become a powerful Jedi Knight and member of Luke's new Jedi Council, she and her brother dueled Vader—before the Episode 5 clash assumed to be Luke and Vader's first bout.
Between Episodes 4 and 5, in the jungle world of Mimban, the Rebels and Vader are racing to recover the powerful Kaiburr crystal. The parties meet inside a temple, where Vader immobilizes Luke; Leia seizes his lightsaber and briefly duels her father, meaning she was the first Skywalker child to battle dear ol' dad. As expected of an untrained rookie, Vader quickly overwhelms her, but Luke takes up the fight. At this point, he's only been given the rudimentary basics from Obi-Wan, having yet to undergo his training with Yoda; thankfully; Kenobi's spirit takes control of Luke and lets him hold his own against Vader, with him and his twin eventually escaping the fight.
Who is your favorite Dark Sider?
Future of Darth Vader
Hopefully you've learned more about the galaxy's most infamous tyrant. Although both his main film trilogies have concluded, Vader remains a prominent figure in Star Wars through his influence on Kylo Ren. He's also reappeared for the Rogue One film and Rebels show, and we'll undoubtedly encounter everyone's famous Sith in upcoming Star Wars endeavors.
With his menacing quotes, fearsome costume, and iconic "I am your father" revelation, Darth Vader remains an brutal character we still love decades after his debut. But for now, as we eagerly await more Chosen One experiences from the galaxy far far away, vote for your favorite dark Jedi and I'll see you at our next Star Wars countdown!
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© 2018 Jeremy Gill