By Serg Beret
DISCLAIMER: This focuses on Darth Vader from the original Star Wars trilogy with Anakin Skywalker covered in a separate entry. Though they are one, I feel they should be covered in different parts to get the full story.
Villain File #7783
Name: Darth Vader (aka Anakin Skywalker)
Played by: James Earl Jones (Voice), David Prowse (Body)
First Appearance: Star Wars (1977)
Villain Type: Sith Lord
Crimes Committed: Blowing up Alderaan, Corruption of Power, Tyranny, Dismembering His Own Son, Not Paying Child Support
Darth Vader, the lord of the evil Galactic Empire and Sith Lord, knows the essence of power and corrupting someone’s mind with evil in the original trilogy.
Back in the 1970’s, George Lucas had a vision for an epic space opera saga that would become Star Wars, Darth Vader was created to be the big bad of the series at this point in time. Vader’s look and feel was based off the classic science fiction serials that Lucas grew up with in his youth. Vader’s was designed by Ralph McQuarrie and intended only to be his spacesuit in the original draft before being the permanent outfit of the character. One odd choice was to blend sci-fi elements, such as Vader’s robotic limbs and iron lung, with classic samurai style made famous by director Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood).
This lead to a menacing and fearful design that encompassed the evil within him. In 1977, Vader finally made his presence known by capturing Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, in her ship and showing the audience that he meant business with a arrogant demeanor and the voice of James Earl Jones. The body itself was done portrayed by David Prowse with Bob Anderson doing the stunt work.
Of course, this is just the beginning of his madness as he controls his planet-sized space station known as the Death Star, which has the ability to destroy whole planets with a huge laser. He uses this, alongside his lackey Grand Moff Tarkin, played by Peter Cushing, displaying the full power of his Death Star’s beam.
If that wasn’t enough, his evil Empire was trying to take over the entire galaxy. Luckily, the Rebels defeated him with the help of Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill, blowing up the Death Star and Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, for shooting him out the way.
Unfortunately, that was just the first film. In The Empire Strikes Back, Vader has his Empire…well, just read the title. His Galactic Empire took over Hoth & Cloud City in Bespin by defeating the Rebels under the order of The Emperor Darth Sidious, played by Ian McDiarmid. He also decides to freeze Han Solo in carbonite after Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, betrayed him and gave Han away to Boba Fett. In a famous duel with Luke, he chops off his hand and then reveals the stunning revelation that he is his father. Darth Vader does roughly translate to “dark father,” but even that was a dick move.
Vader’s end comes in Return of the Jedi as the second Death Star is being created. In the midst of an epic duel with his son in front of the Emperor, Darth Vader sees the beating his son is taking and decides to save him from his misery in a final act of heroic and overcoming the dark side once and for all. Sadly, Vader would leave himself behind with his creation to show that he still had some good in him.
Darth Vader is arguably the greatest and most iconic villain out the Star Wars series. He is practically the face of the series, which is a rare honor for villains. Vader’s legacy has carried on in countless merchandise from toys to clothing, video game appearances such as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed where he trains a new apprentice & Soul Caliber IV, and at Disney theme parks where he is ready to find the Rebel spy on Star Tours: The Adventure Continues. The saga of Star Wars would eventually return to the big screen in 1999 with the Prequel Trilogy exploring the man behind Darth Vader, but that is best saved for another villain file very soon.