Darth Vader

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Star Wars character
Darth Vader

Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back

Position Dark Lord of the Sith, Imperial Commander-in-Chief (Military Executor)
Homeworld Tatooine (since age of three), Coruscant (planet of residence)
Species Human ( cyborg)
Gender Male
Height 1.85 meters (6 ft 1 in) adult; 2.02 meters (6 ft 7.74 in) [in armor] augmented
Affiliation Galactic Empire, Order of the Sith Lords, 501st Legion, Death Squadron, crew of the Executor
Portrayed by David Prowse (A New Hope- Return of the Jedi)
James Earl Jones (voice, Revenge of the Sith- Return of the Jedi)
Sebastian Shaw (Vader unmasked, Return of the Jedi)
Brock Peters ( Star Wars radio dramas)
Hayden Christensen ( Revenge of the Sith)

Darth Vader is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. He is a principal character of the original Star Wars trilogy, and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In the original trilogy, he was portrayed by David Prowse and a series of stunt doubles, while his voice was supplied by James Earl Jones.

Vader is one of the most iconic villains in movie history and was ranked third on American Film Institute's top 50 villains of all time list. In A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Vader is depicted as an iconic epitome of evil; He is the cunning, brutal enforcer of the Galactic Empire's rule across the galaxy, and, on a more personal scale, he is the father of Luke Skywalker, also known as Anakin. A Dark Lord of the Sith, Vader serves at Emperor Palpatine's right hand, using the dark side of the Force to mercilessly pursue the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance to the ends of the galaxy.

In the Star Wars movies

Original trilogy

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Darth Vader is the primary antagonist: a dark, ruthless figure out to capture, torture, or kill the protagonists to prevent them from thwarting the Empire.

A New Hope

Darth Vader is introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as a dark, menacing figure whose assault team has just taken control of the Tantive IV (a consular ship in orbit above the planet Tatooine), in an attempt to retrieve plans for the Empire's new weapon, the Death Star, which have been stolen by the Rebel Alliance. Vader makes his first appearance boarding the ship in order to directly assess the situation. Stormtroopers under his command capture Princess Leia Organa ( Carrie Fisher) of Alderaan (who is secretly a leader of the Rebel Alliance),but not before her robotic droids R2-D2 ( Kenny Baker) and C-3PO ( Anthony Daniels) escape with the plans to the planet below. Vader and his forces, with their prisoner, return to their transport, an Imperial Star Destroyer, which subsequently destroys the consular ship.

Below on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker ( Mark Hamill) witnesses the destruction of the ship through macro-binoculars. Later, Luke's Uncle Owen ( Phil Brown) and Aunt Beru are killed by stormtroopers who were attempting to track down the missing droids, which the family had purchased as farm help. Meanwhile, Luke (who has the missing droids) learns from "Old Ben" Kenobi ( Alec Guinness), a local hermit who once went by the name Obi-Wan, Vader's apparent role in the death of Luke's father. Luke and the droids, with Kenobi's help, avoid the stormtroopers, and eventually secure passage on board a smuggling ship known as the Millenium Falcon, intending on delivering the droids (and thus the plans) to the Rebel Alliance.

Upon arriving at the Death Star, Vader tortures Princess Leia in an attempt to locate the hidden rebel base.

Later, at a meeting on the Death Star, Admiral Motti ( Richard LeParmentier) ridicules Vader's "sad devotion" to the Force, saying that it has not helped in finding the plans, or the rebel base. Vader responds by using the Force to choke the officer, stopping only when Imperial leader Grand Moff Tarkin ( Peter Cushing) intervenes.

Eventually the Millenium Falcon is captured by the Death Star's tractor beam. After attempting to disable the tractor beam machinery, Kenobi, who Luke has discovered is a Jedi master, is forced to face Vader in a lightsaber duel.

While Vader fights Kenobi, eventually striking him down, the other characters use the opportunity to escape with the recently rescued Princess Leia. However Vader had anticipated this eventuality, and had a homing beacon hidden aboard the Millennium Falcon in order to trace them to the rebel base.

Using the plans, the Rebel Alliance makes a desperate attempt to destroy the Death Star through a weakness in its design. Vader and his flight team join the defense of the station, intercepting any rebel fighters attempting to exploit the weakness. At the climax of the film, Vader, in his TIE fighter, is about to destroy Luke's X-wing fighter enroute to destroy the Death Star, when the Millenium Falcon intervenes sending Vader's fighter hurtling into space, after which, Luke destroys the Death Star.

The Empire Strikes Back

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Vader is at the forefront of the continuing attempt to suppress the Rebellion, as he orders the fleet to approach the ice world of Hoth and prepare a full military assault on the hidden rebel base there. Admiral Ozzel ( Michael Sheard) made the mistake of jumping into the system too close, alerting the rebels to their presence and allowing them to evacuate and escape. While most of the rebels escape to the safety of the rebel fleet, the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive fails, and after killing Ozzel for his mistake, Vader orders the fleet to pursue the Falcon.

While in pursuit, Vader receives a new mission from the Emperor ( Ian McDiarmid)- to capture Luke Skywalker, the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. Vader suggests that he could be turned to the dark side of the Force, and the Emperor agrees, noting that he could be a "powerful asset".

Eventually, the Falcon appears and just as quickly disappears, hiding in a blind spot on the back of the tower of a Star Destroyer. Captain Needa ( Michael Culver) takes responsibility for losing them, and apologizes to Vader. After Needa dies at Vader's hand, the fleet disperses and the Falcon breaks off, escaping by floating away from the Star Destroyer in the midst of its garbage, which it dumped before going into hyperspace.

Through the aid of a bounty hunter, Boba Fett, Vader finds and captures the Millenium Falcon. He tortures Luke's friends, presuming that Luke would be able to sense their suffering through the Force, essentially using this as bait.

Luke ultimately finds Vader, and they engage in battle. In the end, Vader defeats Luke, cutting off his right hand. Vader then reveals his true identity as Luke's father, and entreats him to turn to the dark side. Although shaken by this stunning claim, Luke refuses to join Vader and instead chooses death by throwing himself down a reactor shaft. However, fate intervenes to allow him to survive and eventually escape.

Return of the Jedi

In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Vader is charged with overseeing the completion of the second Death Star, with Moff Jerjerrod ( Michael Pennington) as his direct subordinate. He meets with Palpatine on board the half-constructed station to plan Luke's turn to the dark side.

By this time, Luke has nearly completed his Jedi training and has learned from a dying Yoda that Vader is indeed his father and that Leia is his sister. On a mission to the forest moon of Endor, he surrenders to Imperial troops and is brought to Vader. Aboard the Death Star, Luke resists the Emperor's appeals to his anger and fear for his friends, but snaps when Vader telepathically probes his mind, learns of Leia's existence and threatens to turn her to the dark side instead. Enraged, Luke nearly kills Vader, severing his father's mechanical hand. However, he controls his anger at the last minute as he looks at Vader's mechanical hand and then at his own; he realizes that he is perilously close to suffering his father's fate. As the Emperor approaches, encouraging Luke to finish Vader and take his place, Luke throws down his lightsaber, refusing to perform the killing blow. Seeing that the young Jedi is a lost cause, the Emperor attacks Luke with Force lightning. Luke writhes in agony under the Emperor's assault, begging his father for help. Unable to bear the sight of his son in pain, Vader turns on his master and throws him into a deep shaft, where he explodes in a fury of dark energies. In the process, however, errant bolts of Force lightning strike Vader, shorting out his suit's life support systems.

In his dying breaths, Vader begs Luke to remove the hideous breath-mask that has caged his face for more than half his life. Luke complies and, for the first and only time, sees his father's real face — that of a sad, withered man in his mid-40s, ravaged by the dark side, whose sunken eyes look up at his son and back at a lifetime of regret. In death, Anakin Skywalker is finally at peace, having admitted to his son that the good within him was not destroyed after all. Luke barely escapes the doomed battle station before Rebel forces destroy it. Later that night, Luke burns his father's Sith armor (and whatever remains inside ) in the manner of a Jedi's funeral. During the victory celebration on the forest moon of Endor, Luke is able to see the redeemed spirit of Anakin Skywalker, standing once again with Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Anakin Skywalker (Prequel trilogy)

Following up on the revelation in The Empire Strikes Back that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, the Star Wars prequel trilogy (consisting of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) focus on his life before he became Darth Vader, both his heroic rise and tragic fall.

The Phantom Menace

In The Phantom Menace, Anakin ( Jake Lloyd) is introduced as a nine-year-old boy, living on Tatooine with his mother, Shmi ( Pernilla August), as a slave to the trader Watto. He has no father, and is apparently a virgin birth; it is suggested that he is a creation of the midi-chlorians, but his exact origins are left ambiguous. Even at his young age, he is a gifted pilot and a talented engineer, having built his own protocol droid, C-3PO. He is discovered by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn ( Liam Neeson) and his apprentice, the young Obi-Wan Kenobi ( Ewan McGregor), who are convinced that Anakin is the " Chosen One" foretold by the prophecy to bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon wins Anakin's freedom to take him on as an apprentice Jedi (a "padawan learner".) The Jedi Council rejects him, however, sensing in him a great deal of fear and anger. Shortly afterward, Qui-Gon is killed in the Battle of Naboo, and, in his dying breaths, pleads with Obi-Wan to train the boy. The Council reluctantly approves, and Anakin is apprenticed to Obi-Wan. Palpatine, newly elected as the Republic's Supreme Chancellor, befriends the boy, promising to "watch his career with great interest."

Attack of the Clones

In Attack of the Clones, set 10 years after Anakin is initially discovered, he is assigned to protect Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) from the Confederacy of Independent Systems, aka the Separatists. The two eventually fall in love, even though Jedi are forbidden to form emotional attachments.

After suffering visions of his mother dying in agony, he travels to Tatooine and discovers that his mother has been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. He finds her, but it is too late; she dies in his arms. Anakin is seized by a violent rage and he slaughters the entire camp, including the women and children. He confesses to Padmé, who forgives him. They later go to Geonosis to save Obi-Wan, who has been kidnapped by the Separatists, but are themselves captured and sentenced to death. Moments from execution, they pledge their love to each other. They are saved at the last moment, however, by a cadre of Jedi reinforcements led by Mace Windu ( Samuel L. Jackson), who do battle with the Separatists in the opening salvo of the Clone Wars. Anakin fights Separatist leader (and fallen Jedi) Count Dooku ( Christopher Lee), but is easily defeated, losing his right forearm. Back on Coruscant, he is fitted with a prosthetic arm, and marries Padmé in a secret ceremony.

Revenge of the Sith

In Revenge of the Sith, which is set three years after Attack of the Clones, Anakin has been made a full-fledged Jedi Knight, and his exploits in the Clone Wars have earned him the title "The Hero With No Fear."

During the Battle of Coruscant, Anakin and Obi-Wan attempt to rescue Palpatine from General Grievous ( Matthew Wood), a Separatist warlord who has (apparently) kidnapped him. In the course of this rescue on Grievous' flagship Invisible Hand, the two confront Count Dooku, a battle in which Obi-Wan is knocked unconscious, consequently forcing Anakin to fight Dooku alone. Anakin gives into his anger and takes both hands off his opponent. At Palpatine's urgings, Anakin kills Dooku in cold blood. Anakin is instantly remorseful, but Palpatine reassures Anakin that Dooku "was too dangerous to be kept alive."

Anakin returns to Coruscant, where Padmé tells him she is pregnant. He is initially overjoyed, but is later tormented by prophetic visions of her death in childbirth — similar to those he had of his mother just before her death. Meanwhile, Palpatine sponsors Anakin to the Jedi Council, but the Council, suspicious of Palpatine, in turn denies Anakin the rank of Jedi Master, and asks him to spy on Palpatine. Sensing Anakin's impatience and anger, Palpatine tempts him further with "hidden" secrets of the Force, including the ability to prevent death indefinitely — which could thus save his wife.

These tempations reach a boiling point when Anakin finally realizes that Palpatine is in fact Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord that the Jedi have been searching for since the beginning of the war. He reports this treachery to Mace Windu, but he then intrudes on Windu's attempt to apprehend an apparently helpless Palpatine. He pleads for his mentor's life, but Windu says the Sith Lord must be immediately destroyed, as he is too politically powerful to receive a fair trial. As Windu is about to kill Palpatine, Anakin cuts off Windu's saber arm, leaving him defenseless for Palpatine's sudden burst of Force lightning, which sends Windu plummeting to his death in the streets of Coruscant. Anakin then pledges himself to the dark side, and is given the Sith title and name Darth Vader.

Anakin Skywalker as Darth Vader

Vader's first task as a Sith Lord is to assault the Jedi Temple with the 501st Legion and kill everyone inside, even the younglings. He does this without question. He is then sent to Mustafar to assassinate Nute Gunray ( Silas Carson) and the other members of the Separatist Leadership.

After completing this task, he is met by Padmé, who pleads with him to flee Palpatine's grasp with her. He refuses, saying that he can overthrow Palpatine and the two of them can rule the galaxy together. Obi-Wan, who had hidden himself on Padmé's ship, suddenly emerges and confronts Vader. Suspecting betrayal, Vader angrily uses the Force to choke Padmé, leaving her unconscious on the landing platform. The former partners and friends then engage in a ferocious lightsaber duel throughout the mining complex and onto the banks of a lava river. Vader tries to further pursue his master with a Force jump despite Obi-Wan's superior positioning. Obi-Wan severs his remaining organic limbs in midair, and leaves him to the "will of the Force." Vader then catches fire, sustaining near-fatal burns and lung damage. He uses his last strength to reach higher ground until he is rescued by Palpatine, who sensed Vader's impending defeat after his own duel with Yoda.

Palpatine revives Vader with extensive cybernetic enhancements, including a respirator, black body armor, and a fearsome breathing mask that alters his weakened voice into an intimidating mechanical baritone. Palpatine then tells Vader that, in his anger, he had killed his own wife (Padmé had in fact died in childbirth on Polis Massa after delivering healthy twins). Overwhelmed with grief and bitterness by the belief that he had killed his wife (and, presumably, his unborn child), Vader breaks out into a rage which destroys most of the medical droids in the room. Consequently, the only thing that remains in his life is his service to his master, the new Emperor of the galaxy.


During filming of A New Hope, David Prowse played the role of Darth Vader. To his dismay, after filming, James Earl Jones was hired to read Vader's lines over Prowse's performance. Prowse was originally given the choice between the roles of Chewbacca and Darth Vader. He chose Darth Vader because he said "people would remember him." Prowse wore the Vader suit and Jones provided Vader's voice for all of the films in the original trilogy. Jones has since been closely identified with the role.

The character of Darth Vader was also played by several stunt doubles, most notably fencing instructor Bob Anderson. Anderson handled all of Vader's fight sequences in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill (who portrayed Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy) noted in a 1983 interview in Starlog #72: "Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George I didn’t think it was fair any more. Bob worked so hard that he deserves some recognition. It’s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it’s all done by one man."

In 1978, Jones returned as the voice of Vader (footage of Prowse in the suit is actually unused footage from A New Hope) in The Star Wars Holiday Special, as well as to shoot new footage that was released with the Star Wars: The Interactive Video Board Game, when it was released in 1996.

Actor and former Industrial Light & Magic visual effects artist C. Andrew Nelson has also portrayed Vader at a number of events for Lucasfilm, as well as the videogames Rebel Assault II and Dark Forces, and in new footage filmed for the Special Edition releases of the original three Star Wars films in 1997. Over the years Nelson has also appeared as Vader on various television shows and in numerous commercials.

For Revenge of the Sith, Hayden Christensen (who had played Anakin Skywalker since Attack of the Clones) wore the Vader suit, instead of Prowse. However, as he is shorter than Prowse, certain perspective trickery was used to make him seem as physically large as Prowse: a slightly scaled-down costume was created for him; the costume had extensions built into the boots and helmet; and some of the shots of Vader standing next to Palpatine were filmed using forced perspective. While the body actor had changed, James Earl Jones still served as the voice of Vader.

Behind the scenes

The character of Darth Vader was not originally planned to be a suited cyborg. The current image of Vader was created when concept artist Ralph McQuarrie drew the opening scene where the Rebel ship Tantive IV was being boarded. It was initially imagined that Darth Vader would fly through space to enter the ship, necessitating a suit and breathing mask. This was later made permanent and incorporated in the story.

Vader's headgear resembles a Japanese kabuto, which is consistent with the samurai-like order of the Jedi and kendo-like lightsaber duels. It also resembles a Nazi helmet. An American Football helmet made by Riddell, with a distinctive approx. 3cm wide middle seam elevated by approx 3 millimeters that connected the two shell halves and accommodated air valves, was most likely used as the basis for Vader's helmet

The iconic breathing sound of his respirator was created by sound designer Ben Burtt, who created the sound by simply recording himself breathing into an old Dacor scuba regulator.

Vader's musical leitmotif is The Imperial March. A likely inspiration for this famous theme was the similar-sounding leitmotif composed by Alfred Newman for the villainous Nazi spy Quive-Smith (played by George Sanders) in the 1941 Fritz Lang thriller Man Hunt.

In a 2005 interview, George Lucas was asked the origins of the name "Darth Vader", and replied: "Darth is a variation of dark. And Vader is a variation of father. So it's basically Dark Father." ( Rolling Stone, June 2, 2005). "Vader" is the Dutch word for "father" (the Dutch word is instead pronounced "fah-der"), and the German word for "father" (Vater) is similar (fans also believe that the Vader is meant to sound like Invader). However, in the earliest scripts for Star Wars, the name "Darth Vader" was given to a human Imperial general.

Some believe that the revelation of Vader as the father of Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back is a case of retroactive continuity. As originally depicted in the first film, Vader was a student of Obi-Wan Kenobi's who was seduced by the dark side of the Force, betraying and murdering Luke's (then unnamed) father, who seemed at that time to be a separate character from Vader. Much of the criticism from sceptics of Lucas is aimed at the fact that Obi-Wan's story about the death of Luke's father in A New Hope became an outright lie after the later films were produced. It is unclear when Lucas decided to merge Luke's father and Darth Vader into one character or divert him into two characters (Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader). Some accounts have indicated that Empire screenwriter Leigh Brackett was the first to suggest that Vader was Luke's father during story meetings. As it stands, there is currently no behind-the-scenes evidence that Vader was intended to be Luke's father from the very start. Thus, that concept may very well have originated after the original theatrical release of A New Hope. Lucas has claimed in recent years that Vader's story arc (being revealed as Luke's father and then being redeemed) was planned from the beginning. Certainly the 'motif' of the villain turning out to be the hero's father is present in the 'Star Wars' outline as early as 1974 ('The Adventure of Anikin [sic] Starkiller') although the 'hero' and 'villain' of this outline are not necessarily Vader or Luke in the forms that the audience currently understands them.

Vader's revelation to Luke that he is his father is one of the most famous movie plot twists of all time. An IMDb poll on 10 November 2003 asked users to choose which one of a set of movie spoilers was too infamous to be considered a spoiler anymore; Vader's true identity was a clear winner, by a 40% margin.

Armor and cybernetic enhancements

Even before his transformation into Vader, Anakin was a cyborg: he had a prosthetic hand installed after his natural right forearm was severed while dueling with Count Dooku on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. Before the release of Attack of the Clones, the 1994 Expanded Universe novel The Last Command by Timothy Zahn claimed that Vader's hand had been amputated by Palpatine as punishment for the destruction of the first Death Star. However, in Splinter of the Mind's Eye, it is declared that Luke Skywalker severed Vaders sword arm. Until Attack of the Clones, this was the canonical version of why Vader had a prosthetic arm during Return of the Jedi. As a result of his later disfigurement on Mustafar, Vader was substantially augmented with cybernetic implants: he is depicted as wearing his armor at all times when he is not meditating in his pressurized containment-chamber. A towering figure, the suited Darth Vader is nearly 6 feet 7 inches (2.03 meters) tall. This transformation is apparently essential to Obi-Wan's judgment, cemented after the fight on Mustafar and expressed to Luke in Return of the Jedi, that Vader is "more machine now than man, twisted and evil."

According to Star Wars Technical Commentaries, Vader's armor is built around a plastoid girdle that protects his organic and synthetic internal organs. More visible durasteel plates cover his shoulders, upper body and shins. He wears a suit of quilted, flexible, blast-dampening, multi-ply padding, and a cloak of armor weave. His gloves and hands are made with a unique micronized iron that can deflect anything short of a lightsaber blow. His famous mask and helmet, resembling the head of an ancient Sith droid, contain various vision- and auditory-enhancing equipment, as well as the respirator that causes the Dark Lord's ominous breathing sound.

Vader's life support system includes a chest-worn, computerized control panel unit that regulates his respiratory functions. Three slot-like dataports offered diagnostic checks of his pulmonary, respiratory and neural systems. Upon closer examination, the chestplate has Hebrew lettering which has been translated as, "His deeds will not be forgiven, until he merits." On his belt, Vader wears two small system function boxes. The one on his right featured a temperature regulation system. On his left, he wears a respiratory sensor matrix. The centre buckle features an audio enhancement unit built into the electromagnetic clasp. The armor also enables him to breathe in vacuum while protecting him from the coldness of space. The reason for his cloak is to protect a small oxygen pack he wears on his back.

At first, Vader found his new cybernetics and armor to be bulky and unresponsive, especially in comparison to the Force-enhanced athletic ability he enjoyed as Anakin Skywalker. In Revenge of the Sith, his first steps as Vader are awkward and uncoordinated; in the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Vader struggles to adapt his combat skills to the new limitations imposed by his prosthetics. In the course of Dark Lord, Vader is depicted considering various improvements to his support systems to improve their mobility and responsiveness, drawing on the engineering and electronic skills that he has possessed since childhood.

Expanded Universe

The Cartoon Network microseries Star Wars: Clone Wars chronicles Anakin's adventures and trials in the many battles of the Clone Wars. The series, which covers the period between just after Episode II and just before Episode III, sees Anakin become a Jedi and galaxy-renowned war hero, and foreshadows the temptations to power and fear of loss that would transform him into Darth Vader.

In the young adult series The Last of The Jedi, Boba Fett, at the age of 14, is hired by Imperial leader Inquisitor Malorum to investigate Padmé Amidala's death at Vader's request. Vader is expected to at least make cameo appearances in the upcoming Star Wars live-action TV series, which is slated for either a 2007 or 2008 release and will run 100 episodes.

As chronicled in James Luceno's book Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Vader sheds his identity as Anakin Skywalker shortly after incurring his injuries on Mustafar; in the months afterward, he systematically pursues and kills the survivors of the Great Jedi Purge (save Obi-Wan and Yoda) and, in the process, fully embraces his new identity as a Sith Lord and disavows any connection to his former Jedi self. The novel also reveals that Vader plans to eventually overthrow Palpatine and rule the Empire himself, and that his primary motivation for betraying the Jedi was that he resented their supposed failure to recognize his power.

In the comic book Vader's Quest, he hires bounty hunters to bring him information about the pilot who brought about the destruction of the Death Star, ultimately meeting his son Luke for the very first time. Later on, in the Alan Dean Foster novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (which takes place shortly after the events in A New Hope), Vader meets Luke for the second time and combats him in a lightsaber duel on the planet Mimban. On Mimban, in an impressive display of adaptation (showing Luke is very much like his father) Luke nearly defeats Vader in a duel, afterwards Vader suffers massive injuries when he falls into a pit. The extent as to which these new injuries may have worsened his condition (if at all) is somewhat disputed among the Star Wars fanbase.

In The Star Wars Holiday Special, Vader searches for the Rebels responsible for the destruction of the Death Star, almost thwarting Han and Chewbacca's goal of reaching Kashyyyk in order for Chewie to reach his family for Life Day.

Vader also has a prominent role in the 1996 novel/comic/video game Shadows of the Empire, which takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In the story, Prince Xizor, leader of the crime organization Black Sun, plots to overthrow Vader and take his place as the Emperor's second in command. The story also gives more insight into Vader's thoughts and ambitions as it reveals that he knows there is some good left in him and that he wishes to heal his body through the Force in an attempt to return his physical appearance to that of his former self, Anakin Skywalker. At one point in the novel, Vader is in his chamber with his suit completely removed as he attempts to heal his body.

Vader also makes occasional appearances in Dark Horse's Star Wars comic books set between the movies, especially Star Wars: Empire.

In the Thrawn trilogy, it is explained that Darth Vader was the first representative of the Empire to find the Noghri, a race with exceptional combat skills, whom he manipulated into serving as his personal commandos and revering him as their master. Later, Vader transferred their services to Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Leia Organa Solo, who was initially horrified to learn that Vader was her father, eventually forgave him after learning her family's full history, as chronicled in the book Tatooine Ghost. She named her youngest son Anakin in remembrance of her father's redemption.

In the novel The Unifying Force of the New Jedi Order series, set 30 years after the Battle of Yavin in A New Hope, Anakin's voice would speak to his grandson, Jacen Solo, telling him to "Stand firm" in his battle with the Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong.

Archetypes and role models for Darth Vader

There are many well-known mythological and literary precedents that may have provided George Lucas with the inspiration for Darth Vader.

The work of Joseph Campbell is known to have been a major influence on Lucas in the conception of the Star Wars saga, and it is highly likely that he drew on Campbell's writings when creating Anakin/Vader. In Creative Mythology, the fourth and final volume of his masterwork The Masks of God, Campbell examines at some length the numerous myths and stories involving the Holy Grail and the legends of King Arthur. Star Wars of course draws heavily on these mythic archetypes. Of particular interest are Campbell's discourses on the densely interconnected complex of legends about the Holy Grail including the famous tales of the "star-crossed lovers" Tristan and Isolde and Lancelot and Guinevere, and the real-life medieval tale of Abelard and Hèloise.

Vader's physical size, power and unnatural cyborg nature have obvious parallels with the famous Creature of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, who is an aberration against nature, yet who also similarly possesses a redeeming spark of humanity in spite of his monstrous attributes.

Another probable inspiration/referent from modern popular culture is the character of the evil scientist Rotwang in Fritz Lang's classic silent film Metropolis. In the original storyline (which was heavily altered in most post-1927 edits of the film) Rotwang is insanely obsessed by the death of his wife Hel, who dies in childbirth, like Anakin's wife Padme. Notably, Rotwang loses his right hand in his scientific quest to create a female cyborg replicant of Hel and he reconstructs the missing limb with a prosthetic replacement, which is always shown covered by a sinister black glove.

In the realm of graphic design, another source of inspiration for Darth Vader might be Winslow Leach, a.k.a. "The Phantom", the main character from Brian De Palma's 1974 movie Phantom of the Paradise. In "Paradise Regained", a documentary included in the French special edition of the Phantom of the Paradise DVD, De Palma, an old friend of Lucas', claims that some design elements of Darth Vader's suit of armor might have been inspired by the Phantom. De Palma specifically refers to the control panel unit worn by Vader on his armor, which is reminiscent of the Phantom's synthetic voice speaker. It shall also be noted that Winslow is disfigured in a freak accident and his voice destroyed, forcing him to hide his appearance under a dark costume and mask, and to use a voice synthesizer to speak (making him, effectively, a cyborg). Also, the Phantom has to ally himself with the evil record producer Swan, a scheming, power-hungry villain much like Palpatine, all that for the sake of his loved one Phoenix (similarly to what Anakin does for Padme in Revenge of the Sith).

In addition, some have noted that Vader bears more than a passing resemblance to other ficticious villains. One is the classic Marvel Universe supervillain Doctor Doom (who also had a face mask that obscured disfiguring burns). That this appears true to the observer, is suggested by Stephen King's Dark Tower novels in which so-called "Doombots" appear that wear green hoods and iron wolf masks, much like Doom, and carry lightsabers. Another is Sinestro, a former member of the Green Lantern Corps of the DC Universe who was corrupted by his power. Third, the Superman supervillain Darkseid from Jack Kirby's Fourth world storyline resembles Vader in a number of ways; like Vader, his home base is a black, metallic planetoid ( Apokolips), and the name Darkseid itself prefigures Star Wars terminology. Darkseid is also eventually challenged by his son, who is unaware that he is fighting his father.

Cultural figure

Due to his central role, Vader has entered the public consciousness as the quintessential villain. His powerful baritone voice, coupled with his heavy breathing, is easily recognizable, and the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movie villains placed him third, after Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. He has been parodied by such figures as " Dark Helmet" from Spaceballs, "Duck Vader" from Tiny Toon Adventures, "Girth Plotz" from an episode of Animaniacs that parodied the first trilogy, " Darth Koopa" from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, "Dark Laser" from The Fairly Odd Parents, an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door where President Jimmy dressed in black and, now devoted to evil, takes over the school and country singer Darth Brooks in Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Also, Chef from South Park became Darth Chef in The Return of Chef. Another kind of tribute to Darth Vader comes from Stargate SG-1, in which there are similarities between Anubis and Vader, played for both dramatic and comic effect (complete with Death Star-esque spaceship and superweapon), and his name is mentioned when the issue of Vala's immaculate birth is brought up. Marty McFly in Back to the Future (dressed up in a radiation suit) pretended to be "Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan" in an effort to get his science fiction-loving dad to date his mom.

When Episode 1: The Phantom Menace DVD was released, " Thumb Wars" was also released. It’s a parody of Episode 4, only that all the characters in the film are human thumbs with digitally added faces. In this film Darth Vader is represented as Black Helmet Man.

In 2006, Blame Society Productions created a series of short videos that became popular on the Internet featuring Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. Chad Vader is ostensibly the younger brother of Darth Vader, who wears the same armor and cape, and uses phrases and concepts associated with Darth Vader in the context of a modern-day grocery store.

The name Darth Vader as a cultural metaphor

Vader's name has become a synonym for evil. Lucas has pointed to Vader's iconic status as a reason he made the prequel movies, since he felt the icon overshadowed the fact that Vader was intended to be a tragic character.

  • In 2005, former Cornell University entomologists Quentin Wheeler and Kelly Miller named 65 new species of slime-mold beetle of the genus Agathidium, with one named after Darth Vader.
  • During a major renovation, Washington National Cathedral held a competition for children to design new gargoyles for the west towers. One winner was a design featuring Darth Vader.
  • Two significant office buildings in Brisbane, California are highly visible landmarks by the San Francisco Bay. The ominous looking one made of all dark reflective glass has been dubbed the Darth Vader building. The other is the architecturally acclaimed Dakin Building, a brilliant white futuristic antithesis, and is known in the San Francisco Bay area as the Luke Skywalker building.
  • Then-Vice President Al Gore referred to TCI's John Malone as "Darth Vader of cable."
  • In 1990 Roger Taylor's band The Cross released the album Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, featuring the song "Penetration Guru", which has the line "Contact me, I'm no Darth Vader" in the verse before each chorus .
  • Political strategist Lee Atwater was known by his political enemies as "the Darth Vader of the Republican Party".

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