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Sometimes General Sir Mike Jackson was nicknamed 'Darth Vader'.

Darth Vader is the central antagonist in George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy and his final prequel, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. In the original Star Wars trilogy, Vader is embodied by David Prowse, though Sebastian Shaw makes a brief cameo as the unmasked Vader in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Vader is played by Hayden Christensen. Excluding Episode III, James Earl Jones provides Vader's voice when he is masked.

Vader is one of the most iconic villains in film history. The American Film Institute listed him as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history on "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains".

In the original trilogy, George Lucas depicts Darth Vader as a fearsome cyborg who acts as the supreme commander of the brutal Galactic Empire. Throughout the films, Vader oppresses the galaxy and hunts down the members of the Rebel Alliance in the service of his master, Emperor Palpatine. In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, the series' final chronological installment, Vader redeems himself by killing Palpatine and saving his son Luke (Mark Hamill), sacrificing himself in the process.

In the prequel trilogy, Lucas shows Vader as his former self, Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy who eventually becomes a Jedi Knight, and later, a hero in the Clone Wars. Palpatine manipulates Anakin into betraying the Jedi, and Anakin falls to the "dark side" of the mystical Force.


Original trilogy

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Darth Vader is the primary antagonist: a dark, foreboding, and ruthless figure. One of the pivotal rulers of the Empire, he mercilessly attempts to destroy the Rebel Alliance, which is waging a long and desperate war to free the galaxy from the Empire's evil clutches. Beginning with Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Vader's leitmotif is composer John Williams' The Imperial March, which heralds the character's entrances.

A New Hope

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the fourth movie in the narrative chronology (but the first to be released in theaters), features the character's first screen appearance. Vader attempts to recover the stolen plans of the Death Star and find the Rebel Alliance's secret base. He captures and tortures Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and later restrains her when Death Star commander, Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), destroys her home world of Alderaan. Vader fights a lightsaber duel against his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Vader emerges the victor, since Kenobi sarcrifices himself so that Luke Skywalker and his friends can escape the Death Star. Vader encounters Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) during a battle over the Death Star, and senses in him a great strength in the Force. Just as Vader is about to shoot down Luke's ship, preventing the boy from destroying the Death Star, the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Han Solo (Harrison Ford), destroys Vader's wingman and sends Vader's ship spinning into space.

During the film, Kenobi tells Luke that Vader is a former pupil of his who turned to evil. According to Kenobi, Vader, having been seduced by the dark side of the Force, betrayed the Jedi and murdered Luke's father.

The Empire Strikes Back

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Vader captures Leia, Han, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) at Cloud City on Bespin to lure Luke into a confrontation. Luke, who has been partially trained by Yoda (Frank Oz), duels Vader, but is eventually defeated when Vader severs Luke's right hand. Vader reveals his true identity as Luke's father and offers Luke the chance to overthrow Palpatine and "rule the galaxy as father and son". Luke refuses and throws himself from a weather platform into a reactor chasm. He is sucked into an air shaft and rescued by Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), piloting the Millenium Falcon. Later, his severed hand is replaced by a lifelike mechanical prosthetic.

Return of the Jedi

A redeemed Anakin Skywalker dies in his son's arms aboard the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Luke has nearly completed his Jedi training and learns from Yoda that Vader is indeed his father. Luke learns about his father's past from Obi-Wan's spirit, and also learns that Leia is his twin sister. On a mission to the forest moon of Endor, he surrenders to Imperial Stormtrooper and is delivered to Vader and the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid). Aboard the second Death Star, which is being constructed in orbit, Palpatine tries to seduce Luke to the dark side. Luke resists the Emperor's appeals to his anger and threats to his friends, but snaps when Vader threatens to turn Leia to the dark side. Luke brutally overpowers Vader. The fight severs his father's right hand, revealing it to be prosthetic. Luke controls his anger at the last minute, realizing that he is perilously close to suffering his father's fate.

The Emperor urges Luke to kill Vader and "fulfill his destiny" by becoming Palpatine's new apprentice, but Luke refuses and throws down his lightsaber. Enraged, Palpatine unleashes a torrent of Force Lightning upon Luke. In agony, Luke begs his father for help. The sight of his son's suffering breaks the dark side's hold on Vader. Vader grabs Palpatine and throws him into the Death Star's reactor core, killing him, but not before the force lightning fatally damages Vader's life support system. Moments from death, he begs his son to take off his breath-mask so he can look at Luke with his own eyes. Anakin Skywalker tells Luke that there was good left in him after all, and dies, redeemed. Luke escapes on a shuttle with his father's body as the Death Star explodes, destroyed by the Rebel Alliance. That night, Luke gives his father a traditional Jedi funeral by cremating his father's body in its armor. During the victory celebration on Endor's forest moon, Luke sees the redeemed spirit of Anakin Skywalker standing alongside the spirits of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.

Prequel trilogy

Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith portrays Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side of the Force. The film is the fourth in the six to feature Vader. In the closing days of the Clone Wars between the Republic and the villainous Separatists, Palpatine—then the Republic's Chancellor—reveals himself to Anakin as the Sith Lord Darth Sidious and tempts him to join the dark side by promising that it will enable him to save his pregnant wife, Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), from dying in childbirth. At first, Anakin informs Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) of Palpatine's identity; Windu orders Anakin to stay behind while he takes several Jedi to Palpatine's office to arrest him.

Anakin returns to the Chancellor's office to make sure that Palpatine is taken alive, and finds him apparently defeated after a fierce lightsaber battle with Windu. When Windu tells Anakin that he intends to kill Palpatine and raises his lightsaber to finish him off, Anakin severs Windu's arm. Palpatine blasts Windu with Force lightning, sending him plummeting out the window to his death. Desperate to save Padmé, Anakin pledges himself to the Sith, and becomes Palpatine's apprentice, Darth Vader.

Vader's first assignment is to assault the Jedi Temple and kill everyone inside, even the children, paving the way for Palpatine to destroy the Jedi and form the Empire from the Republic's ashes. Vader then travels to the lava planet Mustafar, where the Separatist leaders have gathered, and mercilessly slaughters them. There, Vader is surprised by the sudden appearance of Padmé, who has learned what her husband has done and begs him to go into hiding with her. Vader refuses, instead saying that he plans to eventually kill Palpatine so that he and Padmé can rule the galaxy together. As Padmé recoils in horror, Anakin's former mentor and friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), appears after stowing away in Padmé's ship. Believing Padmé has betrayed him, Vader uses the Force to choke her into unconsciousness. Kenobi and Vader engage in a lightsaber duel, at the end of which Kenobi severs Vader's left arm and legs. Vader lands too close to the lava and nearly burns to death. Palpatine arrives in time to rescue Vader and transports him to Coruscant. To sustain him, medical droids encase him in the black armored suit, mask, and respirator first seen in the original films.

When Vader regains consciousness and asks for Padmé, Palpatine tells him that she was killed in the heat of Vader's anger. This revelation breaks what remains of Anakin's spirit; he screams in torment, destroying the objects around him with the Force. He is last seen at Palpatine's side, watching the construction of the first Death Star.

Expanded universe


Vader appears numerous times in Marvel Comics' Star Wars series.

As chronicled in James Luceno's book Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Vader sheds his identity as Anakin Skywalker shortly after the events of Revenge of the Sith. In the months afterward, he systematically pursues and kills survivors of the Great Jedi Purge; in the process, he fully embraces his new identity as a Sith and disavows any connection to his former Jedi self. The novel also reveals Vader's plan to eventually overthrow Palpatine and rule the Empire himself, and that his primary motivation for betraying the Jedi Order was that he resented their supposed failure to recognize his power. He initially hates his new, mechanical body, but adapts to it after accepting his new life.

In the comic book Vader's Quest, he hires bounty hunters to bring him information about the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, ultimately meeting his son Luke for the first time. Later, 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 fights him in a lightsaber duel on Mimban. On Mimban, Vader is nearly defeated by Luke, who severs his right arm with the aid of Obi-Wan's spirit.

Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy explains that Darth Vader is 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. Vader later transferred their services to Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Video games

Darth Vader has a prominent role in the 1996 Shadows of the Empire multimedia project, including the video game, which takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In the story, Prince Xizor plots to overthrow Vader and take his place as the Emperor's second in command. The story also reveals that Vader knows there is some good left in him, and that he wishes to use the Force to return his physical appearance to that of his former self.

Darth Vader plays a central role in The Force Unleashed. He is playable in the first level of the game, where he and his armies invade the planet Kashyyyk to hunt down a rogue Jedi. Vader kills the Jedi and kidnaps the man's young son Galen Marek, who is gifted in the Force, to secretly raise as his apprentice. Vader sends his apprentice (the game's protagonist) on various missions to planets throughout the galaxy, with an ultimate goal to assassinate Palpatine so that he and his apprentice can rule the galaxy themselves. Towards the end of the game, however, it is revealed that Vader wasn't planning to overthrow Palpatine at all, and that he was just using his apprentice to expose the Empire's enemies; in the game's climax, Marek is apparently killed while pushing back Palpatine's Force lightning. In the game's alternate ending, however, Marek kills Vader instead. In the Wii version of The Force Unleashed, Vader is also playable in the game's Duel Mode.

Vader is an unlockable playable character in Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and its sequel Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.

Vader is also featured as a playable character in Namco's fighting video game Soulcalibur IV, as one of three Star Wars guest characters. He is available by default in the PlayStation 3 version, but is unavailable in the Xbox 360 version unless he is downloaded off Xbox Live Marketplace for a small fee. In various videos, comics, artwork, and other media related to the game, he is most often depicted fighting the samurai Heishiro Mitsurugi, one of the Soulcalibur franchise's most recognizable characters.

Darth Vader is a playable hero in Star Wars: Battlefront II. He is also a non-playable character in its predecessor Star Wars: Battlefront.

In Star Wars: Empire at War and its expansion Forces of Corruption, Darth Vader is a controllable character on land. His Super Star Destroyer Executor and his personal TIE fighter squadron are playable as well.

In Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and its expansion Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns, Darth Vader is a Hero character under the Galactic Empire civilization. He also has his own campaign, narrated by the Emperor's Hand Mara Jade.

Darth Vader is an active, yet non-playable character in Star Wars: Galaxies, the MMORPG based in the Star Wars universe. He often appears in cities, accompanied by multiple stormtroopers, to hand out quests to players of the Imperial Faction. He also is a static quest giver at the Emperor's Retreat on Naboo.

Production and publication

Creation and concepts

The character's image was created when concept artist Ralph McQuarrie drew the opening scene where Vader and his stormtroopers board a Rebel ship. It was initially imagined that Darth Vader would fly through space to enter the ship, necessitating a suit and breathing mask. This equipment was later made permanent and incorporated in the story.

The iconic sound of the character's respirator breathing was created by sound designer Ben Burtt, who created the sound by recording himself breathing into a scuba regulator.

Darth Vader's costume is one of the areas in which Lucas' interest in feudal Japanmarker—particularly samurai warriors—is most clearly manifested. According to Star Wars wardrobe master John Mollo, "Darth Vader's helmet started as a World War I Germanmarker Stahlhelm helmet".


David Prowse played Darth Vader during filming of A New Hope. Prowse was originally given the choice between the roles of Chewbacca and Darth Vader, and chose the latter because he said "people would remember him." After filming, James Earl Jones was hired to read Vader's lines over Prowse's performance, in part due to Prowse's strong West Country accent. Lucas eventually chose Jones to provide Vader's voice for all the original trilogy films; Jones has since been closely identified with the role. In 1978, Jones returned as the voice of Darth Vader in The Star Wars Holiday Special, which used A New Hope footage of Prowse in the character's costume. When National Public Radio commissioned writer Brian Daley to adapt Star Wars as a radio series, actor Brock Peters was hired to provide the voice of Darth Vader when Jones was not available. For the scene in which Luke unmasks Vader at the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Lucas turned to Sebastian Shaw to portray the newly reformed Sith Lord.

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:

Recognition of Anderson's Vader fight choreography for the original series was highlighted in the film Reclaiming The Blade, where he was recognized by Karl Urban and others as being "in Darth Vader's costume, doing all the lightsaber work".

For Revenge of the Sith, Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the film as well as the preceding film, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, wore the Vader armor rather than Prowse. However, as Christensen is shorter than Prowse, Lucas employed certain perspective trickery 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. No one was credited for the briefly heard voice of Darth Vader at the film's end. When asked if he had supplied the voice, either newly or from a previous recording, James Earl Jones told Newsday, "You'd have to ask Lucas about that. I don't know".

Actor and former Industrial Light & Magic visual effects artist C. Andrew Nelson has also portrayed Vader at Lucasfilm events, in the Rebel Assault II and Dark Forces video games (both of them were voiced by Scott Lawrence), and in footage filmed for the 1997 Special Edition releases of the original three Star Wars films. Nelson has also appeared as Vader on various television shows and in numerous commercials. Matt Sloan appeared as Darth Vader various times, such as Soulcalibur IV, The Force Unleashed video game and one episode of Deal or No Deal.

In other countries

Darth Vader was voiced by a number of notable seiyū (voice actors) in the Japanese language versions of the franchise. One of the most well known is Tōru Ōhira, who voiced the character in Episode III and the video and DVD editions of the original trilogy as well as Soulcalibur IV, a Japanesemarker video game. Ōhira also voiced Boss Nass in Episode I. Other seiyū from the various Japanese versions of the films include Mahito Tsujimura (who also voiced Yoda in several instances), Mizuho Suzuki, Kōji Nanbara, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, and Tarō Ishida. In video games, he is voiced by Ryūzaburō Ōtomo in the Japanese version of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds and by Banjō Ginga in the Japanese version of Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

Like several other characters, Darth Vader's name was changed in the French and Italian versions of the films ("Dark Vador" and "Dart Fener", respectively). More recently, some material in both languages has used the original name; for instance, the Quebec French dubbing of Episode III. A poll was conducted among Italian fans to determine whether Vader's original name would be used for the dub of Episode III, but "Fener" was preferred over "Vader" by the majority of those polled.

Cultural figure

Due to his role as the central antagonist in the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader has become a quintessential villain in the public's consciousness. His powerful bass voice, imposing armored figure, and cold mechanized breathing, have become oft-parodied trademarks of the character. Darth Vader's iconic status has made him a synonyms for evil in popular culture. Many commentators and comedians evoke his visage to satarize polititions and other public figures. George Lucas has pointed to Vader's iconic status as a reason for making the prequel movies, since he felt the icon overshadowed the fact that Vader was intended to be a tragic character.

Darth Vader in politics

Several American political figures have been unflatteringly compared to the character.

On June 22, 2006, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney referred to himself as the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. Discussing the administration's philosophy on gathering intelligence, he said to CNN's John King, "It means we need to be able to go after and capture or kill those people who are trying to kill Americansmarker. That's not a pleasant business. It's a very serious business. And I suppose, sometimes, people look at my demeanor and say, 'Well, he's the Darth Vader of the administration.'"

Jon Stewart put on a Darth Vader helmet to address Dick Cheney as a "kindred spirit" on The Daily Show on January 25, 2007. Cheney's wife, Lynne, presented Stewart with a Darth Vader action figure on her appearance on the show on October 10, 2007. Both Stewart and Stephen Colbert have occasionally referred to Cheney as "Darth Cheney". In the satiric cartoon show Lil' Bush, Dick Cheney's father is portrayed as being Darth Vader. At her presidential campaign event on September 19, 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton also referred to Cheney as Darth Vader. At the 2008 Washington Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner, Cheney joked that his wife Lynne told him that the Vader comparison "humanizes" him. George Lucas has told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, however, that Cheney is more akin to Emperor Palpatine, and that a better stand-in for Vader would be George W. Bush. An issue of Newsweek referenced this quote, and compared Bush and Cheney to Vader and Palpatine, respectively, in a satirical article comparing politicians to various Star Wars and Star Trek characters.

Then-Vice President Al Gore referred to Tele-Communications Inc.'s John C. Malone as the "Darth Vader of cable." Political strategist Lee Atwater was known by his political enemies as "the Darth Vader of the Republican Party."

Darth Vader in film and television

The prevalence--and longevity--of Vader parodies in television and film shows the strong influence the character has had on popular culture. Many of these parodies are quite simple, which is evidence of the high recognizability of Vader's attributes. For instance, merely adding the title "Darth"--or a dirivitive thereof--in front of a characters name immediately brings to mind Vader.

This is certainly the case with such figures as "Duck Vader" from Tiny Toon Adventures; "Darth Benkyou" in an episode of Doraemon; "Dearth Nadir" as played by Gonzo for The Muppet Show's "Pigs in Space" sketch; "Girth Plotz" (Thaddeus Plotz) in the Animaniacs episode "Star Warners"; Bowser's alter-ego "Darth Koopa" from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!; "Dark Helmet' from the movie Spaceballs, "Dark Laser" and another unnamed Vader-like character portrayed by Cosmo from The Fairly OddParents; "Evil Emperor Zurg" from the Toy Story films, "Dark Vegan", the leader of the planet Vegandon on Johnny Test; an episode of Codename: Kids Next Door where President Jimmy dresses in black and takes over the school; Stewie Griffin's portrayal of the character in the Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest"; "Dark Star" from the Wii game No More Heroes; and Chef from South Park as Darth Chef in the episode "The Return of Chef".

Many popular films pay homage to the character. Marty McFly in Back to the Future (dressed in a radiation suit) calls himself "Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan" to convince the past version of his father to ask his mother to a dance. At the beginning of Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, the character Hooper X gives a speech at a comic convention on how Darth Vader is a metaphor for how poorly sci-fi treats black people; he is especially offended that Vader (the "blackest brother in the galaxy") reveals himself to be a "feeble, crusty old white man" at the end of Return of the Jedi. In the film Robots, a mute robot tries several discarded voice boxes, one of which gives him Vader's voice (provided by James Earl Jones) and a Vader-like mouth grill. In the film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Vader makes a non-speaking appearance next to Oscar the Grouch. He tries to demonstrate his Force abilities, only to fail due to the non-existence of the Force outside of the Star Wars universe.

In other contexts

The influence the iconic character has had on the public psyche has extended far beyond mainstream television and film. Indeed, the wide array of things named after the character--everything from buildings to beetles--shows that Sith Lord has permeated everyday American life.

In 2005, former Cornell Universitymarker entomologists Quentin Wheeler and Kelly Miller named 65 new species of slime-mold beetle of the genus Agathidium, with one named Agathidium vaderi after Darth Vader.

In the last years of construction, Washington National Cathedralmarker held a competition for children to design new grotesques for the western towers. The third-place winner was a design featuring Darth Vader, which looms over the southern side of the northwest tower.

Brisbane, Californiamarker, has an ominous-looking building made of dark reflective glass and the architecturally acclaimed Dakin Buildingmarker, a white futuristic antithesis -- these buildings are known as the "Darth Vader building" and "Luke Skywalker building", respectively.

The Fourth and Blanchard Building in Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker is informally dubbed the 'Darth Vader building'.

The BNZ Towermarker (now State Insurance Tower) in Wellingtonmarker, New Zealandmarker, was once nicknamed "Darth Vader's pencil box."

Darth Vader is a playable fighter in namco game: Soul Calibur 4 (only PS3 version).

See also


Further reading

External links

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