Darth Vader

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Darth Vader
Star Wars character
First appearanceStar Wars (1977)
Created byGeorge Lucas
Portrayed by
More
Voiced by
More
In-universe information
Full nameAnakin Skywalker
Occupation
  • Slave
  • Jedi Apprentice
  • Jedi Knight
  • Jedi General
  • Sith Lord
Affiliation
Family
Master
ApprenticeAhsoka Tano
HomeworldTatooine

Darth Vader (/dɑːrθ vdər/) is a character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. He is the primary antagonist of the original film trilogy and, as Anakin Skywalker, is the protagonist of the prequel trilogy. Born into slavery, he eventually becomes a powerful Jedi.[1] He is lured to the dark side of the Force by Chancellor Palpatine, and transforms from Anakin into the Sith Lord Darth Vader. After being severely wounded in a lightsaber battle, he becomes a cyborg. He is the husband of Padmé Amidala, the father of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa Solo, and the grandfather of Ben Solo.[2][3][4][5]

David Prowse physically portrays Vader in the original trilogy, while James Earl Jones provides his voice in all of the films and some television series. Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen portray Anakin in the prequel trilogy, and Christensen also plays him in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022) and Ahsoka (2023). In the standalone film Rogue One (2016), Vader is portrayed by Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous. The character also appears in novels, comics, and video games. He has become an iconic villain of cinema.[a]

Biography[edit]

Darth Vader began life as Anakin Skywalker. He and his mother Shmi were slaves owned by the junk dealer Watto on Tatooine.[10] The Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn orchestrated Anakin's liberation, hoping to train him as a Jedi. The Jedi Council at first denied Anakin entry, but eventually allowed him to become an apprentice of Obi-Wan Kenobi. [2][11][10]

Anakin was assigned to protect Senator Padmé Amidala. He fell in love with her, despite a Jedi Order prohibition against romantic relationships. At the same time, Anakin began having visions of his mother dying. He travelled to Tatooine, and found that she had been kidnapped by Tusken Raiders. She died in his arms, which led Anakin to slaughter every Tusken in sight. After fighting in several battles related to the Clone Wars, Anakin married Padmé in a secret ceremony.[2][12][13]

As the Clone Wars continued, Anakin became a hero. He also grew vastly in power, and Jedi Master Yoda assigned him an apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. When Anakin discovered that Padmé was pregnant, he had visions of her dying in childbirth. Palpatine told him a legend about people with the power to prevent death, and Anakin was eager to learn this ability. Palpatine revealed himself to be Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord, and pledged to train Anakin in the dark side of the Force.[2][3][12]

Anakin fought and wounded his former ally Mace Windu to save Palpatine, who declared himself Emperor. As Darth Vader, Anakin led the Empire’s eradication of the Jedi Order. He told Padmé of his plan to overthrow Palpatine and rule the galaxy with her, but the idea sickened her. When Vader found Obi-Wan hiding on his ship on the planet Mustafar, he believed his wife had betrayed him, and he strangled her into unconsciousness. He then duelled with Obi-Wan, who dismembered him and left him burning to death beside a lava flow. Palpatine rescued Vader and had him encased in mechanical black armor that kept him alive. Palpatine lied to him, telling him that his strangulation had killed Padmé, which left Vader heartbroken. Unknown to Vader, Padmé died elsewhere after giving birth to twins, Luke and Leia. The infants were adopted for their safety, and grew up with no knowledge of their father or each other.[2][14][15]

The emergence of the Empire gave rise to a Rebellion.[16] As Palpatine's enforcer, Vader hunted the Rebels throughout the galaxy, eventually learning that his son Luke was among them. After battling his son in Cloud City, Vader revealed that he was Luke's father.[17] The two met again when Luke—now a Jedi Knight himself—surrendered to Imperial troops on Endor in the hope of bringing his father back from the dark side. Vader brought his son to Palpatine, who invited Luke to join the dark side. When Luke refused, Palpatine began to strike him with deadly Force lightning. Vader saved Luke by killing Palpatine, but was mortally wounded in the process. Before dying, Vader shared a final moment of reconciliation with his son. As Luke and his friends celebrated the end of the Empire, Anakin returned as a Force spirit to watch over them.[2][3][18]

Creation[edit]

Darth Vader[edit]

As part of the development for the original Star Wars film,[b] Lucas hired the artist Ralph McQuarrie to create conceptual images for characters. For Vader, Lucas asked McQuarrie to depict a "very tall, dark fluttering figure that had a spooky feeling like it came in on the wind."[19] Because the script described Vader traveling between spaceships, McQuarrie suggested that he should wear a space suit. Lucas agreed, and McQuarrie created Vader's iconic mask by combining a full-face breathing mask with a samurai helmet.[19][20] McQuarrie's 1975 production painting of Vader engaged in a lightsaber duel with Deak Starkiller (who later became Luke Skywalker) depicts the former wearing black armor, a flowing cape and a skull-like mask and helmet. This initial design was similar to Vader's final appearance.[21]

Working from McQuarrie's concepts, the costume designer John Mollo devised an outfit that combined clerical robes, a motorcycle suit, a German military helmet and a military gas mask.[22] The prop sculptor Brian Muir created the helmet and armor.[23] The sound of Vader's breathing was created by the sound designer Ben Burtt using modified recordings of a scuba breathing apparatus.[24] The sound effect is trademarked at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.[25]

Lucas has provided differing accounts of how the name "Darth Vader" originated. In a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone, he claimed it was a modified version of "Dark Father."[26] On another occasion, he said it was inspired by the phrase "Dark Water".[27] It is also possible that "Darth Vader" originated from the name of Gary Vader, a boy who went to high school with Lucas.[28] In France, Darth Vader's name was changed to Dark Vador starting with Star Wars.[29][30] He was called Dart Fener In Italian-language versions of Star Wars films until 2015, when his name was reverted to the English version.[31] In Iceland, his name is Svarthöfði, which means "black-head".[32]

Anakin Skywalker[edit]

The films Swiss Family Robinson (1960) and Battle of the Bulge (1965) influenced the original Star Wars trilogy, but Lucas's publicist has denied that Anakin Skywalker was named after Ken Annakin, the director of those films.[33][34] The original surname of Anakin and Luke was "Starkiller", and it remained in the script until a few months into filming Star Wars. It was dropped due to what Lucas called "unpleasant connotations" with Charles Manson, who became a "star killer" in 1969 when he murdered the well-known actress Sharon Tate.[35][36] Lucas replaced the problematic name "Starkiller" with "Skywalker".[37]

Portrayals and appearances[edit]

Darth Vader[edit]

David Prowse, a 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) bodybuilder and actor, portrays Vader in the original trilogy. Prowse was originally offered the role of Chewbacca, but turned it down, as he wanted to play the villain.[38] Bob Anderson, a former Olympic fencer, portrays Vader during lightsaber fight scenes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.[39] Lucas chose to have a different actor provide Vader's voice, because he felt Prowse's West Country English accent was inappropriate for the character.[40] The director originally considered Orson Welles for the role, but selected James Earl Jones instead after deciding that Welles's voice would be too recognizable to audiences.[41][42] Jones initially felt his role was too small to warrant recognition, and he chose to be uncredited in Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. He was finally credited in Return of the Jedi in 1983.[43][40]

Hayden Christensen portrays Vader in Revenge of the Sith, while Brock Peters provides his voice in the Star Wars radio series.[44][45] Scott Lawrence voices Vader in video games, including the 2019 virtual reality series Vader Immortal.[46] Matt Sloan voices the Sith Lord in both video games and television productions.[47] Both Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous portray Vader in Rogue One, with Jones providing the voice.[48] Jones also voices Vader in the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) and the animated series Star Wars Rebels.[49][50] In September 2022, it was confirmed that Jones would retire from voicing the character. His voice was digitally recreated by the company Respeecher for use in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he later signed over the rights to his voice for future Star Wars productions.[51][52]

Anakin Skywalker[edit]

Near the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke removes Vader's mask. Although Prowse had portrayed the Sith Lord throughout the trilogy, the filmmakers wanted a more experienced actor to play the unmasked Vader.[53] Sebastian Shaw was selected for the role, which appears as "Anakin Skywalker" in the credits.[54] Shaw's presence on set was kept secret from all but the minimum cast and crew, and Shaw was contractually obligated not to discuss any film secrets with anyone, even his family.[55][56] In the final scene of the film, Shaw portrays Anakin's Force spirit. His likeness in this scene was replaced with that of Hayden Christensen in the 2004 DVD release.[57]

When The Phantom Menace was being developed, hundreds of actors were auditioned for the role of young Anakin before Jake Lloyd was cast.[58] Rick McCallum, the film's producer, said that Lloyd was "smart, mischievous and love[d] anything mechanical—just like Anakin."[59][60] When casting the role of 19-year-old Anakin for Attack of the Clones, the filmmakers reviewed about 1,500 candidates before selecting Hayden Christensen.[61] The Canadian actor reprised the role in Revenge of the Sith and in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka.

Anakin is voiced by Mat Lucas and Frankie Ryan Manriquez in the 2003 animated micro-series Clone Wars, and is voiced by Kirby Morrow in several television productions.[62][63] Matt Lanter provides the character's voice in video games and in various television productions, including The Clone Wars, Rebels, Forces of Destiny and Star Wars: Tales.[64] Lanter also voices Anakin in the film version of The Clone Wars. During the second-season finale of Rebels, Lanter's voice is sometimes blended with the voice of James Earl Jones.[65]

Vader and Anakin also appear in novels and comics, some of which are part of the official Star Wars story canon, and some of which are part of the separate Star Wars Legends narrative universe.[66][c]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Attributed to multiple references:
    [6][7][8][9]
  2. ^ Originally titled Star Wars, it was later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope.
  3. ^ Canon novels include:
    Legends novels include:
    Canon comics include:
    • Star Wars[70]
    • Darth Vader[71]
    • Vader Down[72]
    • Obi-Wan & Anakin[73]
    • Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith[74]
    • Vader: Dark Visions[75]
    • Star Wars: Darth Vader[76]
    • Darth Vader: Black, White & Red[77]
    Legends comics include:

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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Works cited[edit]

  • Hidalgo, Pablo; Sansweet, Stephen (2008a). The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. Vol. I (First ed.). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 9780345477637.
  • Hidalgo, Pablo; Sansweet, Stephen (2008c). The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. Vol. III (First ed.). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 9780345477637.
  • Kaminski, Michael (2008). The Secret History of Star Wars. Legacy Books Press. ISBN 978-0-9784652-3-0.
  • Rinzler, J.W. (2013). The Making of Return of the Jedi (eBook v3.1 ed.). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 978-0-345-54358-5.
  • Rinzler, J.W. (2007). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (eBook v3.1 ed.). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 978-0-345-54286-1.
  • Rinzler, J.W. (2008). The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film (2008 ed.). Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-192499-7.
  • Rinzler, J.W. (2010a). The Making of The Empire Strikes Back (eBook v3.1 ed.). New York: Del Rey. ISBN 978-0-345-54336-3.
  • Rinzler, J.W. (2010b). The Sounds of Star Wars. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-85720-076-1.