With Halloween fast approaching and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” release coming, many people are excited to dress up as Star Wars characters. One costume, and character, that has always held my respect is Darth Vader, because he is, by far, the chief of the bad guys. Not to mention that swagger and that chic style.
Darth Vader’s story is one of growth, of corrupted innocence, of love.
Anakin Skywalker was taken as a young boy by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn to be trained in the Jedi arts, because of his strong connection to the Force—a metaphysical energy that binds everything together and is what gives a Jedi his power.
Anakin was so strong in the force that he was said to be “the Chosen One” from an age-old Jedi legend. This ancient prophecy, according to The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force, reads as follows:
“In the time of greatest despair, a child shall be born who will destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force.”
As it turns out, Anakin—or Darth Vader—really was the chosen one, because he eventually did fulfill the prophecy when he turned against and killed Darth Sidious (Emperor Palpatine). But, this is precisely what makes him the greatest baddie out there, because for the better part of his life he scoured the galaxy destroying planets, slaughtering countless innocents and commanding the greatest and most frightening galactic power ever known and then ended it all for the sake of the very thing he turned to the Dark Side in the first place—love.
Now, to some people this may be cheesy or an overused film trope, but I think it’s the cliché that makes for the best bad guys. A broken heart or searching for a lost love is what makes an extraordinarily passionate antagonist, because their sense of reality becomes distorted and their humanity is slowly withered away by the deeds they’ve done in search of that love.
Vader was bad, not because he wanted to be, but because he needed to be. And he was good at it.
Anakin pursued the Dark Side because he couldn’t save Padmé—the love of his life—with the good guys, the Jedi. He didn’t like the Sith, but he joined them and became Darth Vader in order to do the impossible. Which, of course, he failed at and instead ended up killing her, which led him deeper into darkness and motivated him to be the villain we all know and love (or hate?).
Aside from his story, his sheer presence is absolutely intimidating and powerful. No matter what he’s doing, he is usually calm and collected, which is terrifying when it comes to a villain—especially when he’s able to choke one of his officers while simultaneously talking to the other about taking over command for the man he is currently killing. And the heavy breathing coupled with James Earl Jones’ voice and that dark armor makes for an aggressively chilling character.
Darth Vader has intrigued and chilled three generations of fans, which ultimately makes him, at least, one of the most iconic villains out there.