10 Things You Didn't Know About Darth Vader
The Dark Lord of the Sith
Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and face of the Empire, became one of the most feared and powerful beings in the galaxy during the Dark Times. He is also one of the greatest villains in cinematic history, with his intimidating presence and iconic mask. While his feats are great and terrible, they are also extremely well chronicled in the Skywalker saga and the numerous novel and comic book spinoffs centered on the Dark Lord. However, there is plenty yet to be learned about the fallen Jedi who was once Anakin Skywalker, both in the canonical stories and those of Legends.
10. Voice Change
The performance of James Earl Jones as the voice of Vader is one of the most iconic factors of this great villain. His vocal performance is nuanced and menacing, perfectly characterizing the tortured Sith Lord. While David Prowse wore the armor and was the on-set character, George Lucas has said that he never planned to use Prowse's voice in the final cut of Star Wars. This fact did not sit well with the late Prowse, who claimed that Lucas never informed him that his dialogue wouldn't appear in the film.
During the concept art stage of Star Wars, legendary artist Ralph McQuarrie drew many wild and crazy aliens, vehicles, and characters. For the main villain, Lucas wanted a design that would allow Vader to be immune to most environmental dangers. This would translate into an even more relentless and terrifying villain. The results speak from themselves, and the canonical Vader embodies Lucas' environmentally durable vision. His advanced armor allows him to pursue his quarry unphased by extreme heat, the frigid temperatures of Hoth, and even the vacuum of space.
Possibly one of the strangest facts about Darth Vader is that his bust looms down at church-goers at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. In the 1980's, as Star Wars fever was sweeping the nation, the cathedral had a "design a carving" competition to determine what would be added to the two west towers. A young student and avid Star Wars fan submitted his rendition of the Sith Lord into the contest, and it was chosen as the third place winner.
7. Painful Operation
After Vader's defeat on Mustafar at the hands of his former master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Sidious took him to a secret state-of-the-art medical facility on Coruscant. Here began the long process of returning Darth Vader from the brink of death. From the onset of the numerous procedures and operations, Palpatine instructed the medical droids to use no anesthesia or other painkillers. Sidious wanted his apprentice to feel every excruciating second. Not only as punishment for failing to defeat Kenobi, but also so that Vader may use his pain and fear of death to draw upon the dark side. This would not only allow him to resist death, but also to emerge from this agonizing ordeal even stronger than before.
6. Alpha Predator
In Legends, after being shot down by Han Solo during the Battle of Yavin, Vader crash lands on a remote planet called Vaal, where he is attacked by a pack of vicious hyena-like creatures. Drawing his lightsaber, Vader cuts down several beasts, including the pack Alpha. Upon seeing their leader slain, the remainders of the pack back off and submits to Vader. They accompany him on his long, dangerous journey across the planet to an Imperial outpost. Once there, Vader bids farewell to his ferocious companions and departs in a TIE Fighter. The crew of the outpost, not being quite as skilled fighter as Vader, are subsequently devoured by the pack.
5. Suit Kryptonite
After his immolation on Mustafar, Vader exits in constant pain thanks to his burnt and ruined body. Kept alive by the life support systems in his suit, Vader relies on his armor to protect him in more ways than one. However, it is also the key to his destruction. With the Rule of Two in mind, Sidious purposely instructs that his suit have no protection against the power of his Force lightning. This not only prevents Vader from conjuring the storm of the Sith himself, but also makes him especially vulnerable to his Master's powers. While this is done to try to prevent Vader from overthrowing the Emperor, it is not enough to save Palpatine's life when his apprentice does finally betray him.
4. Protection Order
Vader's disregard and disposal of Imperial life is a well documented fact. Admiral Oswald is mercilessly executed for his failings prior to the Battle of Hoth. When Palpatine introduces Vader to the highest ranking officers in the Imperial Navy, Vader mercilessly crushes the windpipe of one officer who questions his authority. While Palpatine was indifferent to and often even encouraged Vader's violent command, he did have one stipulation: Grand Moff Tarkin was off limits. Tarkin was widely regarded as the only one, besides the Emperor, who had any influence over Vader. As Princess Leia put it, Tarkin was the one holding Vader's leash. His protection from the Emperor stemmed not only from his military savvy, but also from his political influence and familial riches and connections, all important assets to Palpatine's new Empire.
Shortly after the end of the Clone Wars, Vader sets about establishing a base of operations, far from the prying eyes of his master. He settles on Mustafar, the place of his greatest defeat, so that he may meditate and draw power from the pain and rage evoked by the lava planet. Coincidently, it is also here where an ancient Sith nexus lies, which would transport Vader to strange new worlds. With the assistance of an ancient Sith architect named Momin, preserved within his sinister mask and possessing the body of an Imperial Lieutenant, Vader builds himself a castle atop the nexus. Dubbed "Fortress Vader," the castle serves not only as a home base for Vader, complete with bacta tank meditation pods, but also as a key to unlocking these unfamiliar worlds.
2. Cult Leader
The Noghri are a warrior race living in the far reaches of space. When they are discovered by Vader during his travels, the Dark Lord instantly recognizes their potential. Through a series of Force manipulation, promises doomed to be broken, and Imperial propaganda, the Noghri agree to become Vader's personal bodyguards and assassins. They go on to serve their Sith master and the Empire well, killing many rebels and other threats to Imperial sovereignty.
1. Sith Armor
In the days before Darth Bane and the Rule of Two, armies of Sith warriors ravaged the galaxy. While the Sith Lords led the charge against the Republic, they couldn't take the Jedi alone. Drawing from dark side users such as the Umbaran Shadow Assassins, the Sith bolstered their forces. One such group was the Sith Berserkers. Brutal, savage, warriors who would charge head long into the fray, drawing power from the death and bloodshed and annihilating all in their path. In order to limit the damage their received fighting on the front lines, they wore a thick, black robe over heavy, dark armor. When the time came for Sidious to encase his apprentice in his own set of armor, he had a set fabricated that was reminiscent of the Sith Berserker, hoping that Vader would channel the pure, mindless rage of these battle-hardened monstrosities. His expectations were only exceeded as Vader would go on to become one of the greatest Dark Side warriors in the galaxies history.
Written By Weston Erickson
Syndicated From Culture Slate