Darth Vader’s Best Duels in Star Wars Film and Television
Darth Vader™ is perhaps one of the most well-known and beloved Star Wars™ villains. And for good reason! In a galaxy far, far away, many conflicts revolve around this character. He’s ruthless and powerful. He’s incredibly strong with the dark side of the Force. Plus, he has formidable combat skills.
When wielding a lightsaber, Darth Vader is almost unstoppable. Throughout the Skywalker Saga™, we watch Darth Vader win almost every fight he enters. Even if he doesn’t win, his abilities are impressive, most impressive. So below we are breaking down Darth Vader’s best duels across the Star Wars movies and television series.
VS Ben Kenobi
Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi™
Although we aren’t really ranking these duels, we will say this: The Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi™ fight in the Obi-Wan Kenobi finale is Darth Vader’s best. His raw strength is amazing to behold. Despite his heavy armor, the villain maneuvers through a tricky landscape with ease. Beating Ben Kenobi with strike after strike, his red lightsaber becomes a symbol of fear and pure rage.
After he’s beat Ben into submission, Darth Vader buries his old Master — both metaphorically and physically. He shoves him into a pit and drops boulders on him. The rockslide represents his ultimate severance from his old way of life, as well as the desire to be released from his feelings surrounding Kenobi. In the end, Kenobi prevails. But Darth Vader’s might and mastery over the Force are on full display here, and that’s incredible to witness no matter whose side you’re on during the duel.
VS Luke Skywalker
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back™
A long awaited match, the Luke Skywalker™ and Darth Vader duel is an extended sequence full of tension and one of the greatest cinematic reveals of all time. Set in Cloud City™, the fight is hidden in fog and smoke, drenched in complementary orange and blue hues. It’s a masterpiece of cinematography. It’s also undeniably brutal. Although he’s trained, and does his best, Luke can’t compete with Darth Vader.
Darth Vader corners Luke above a precarious drop. He chops off Luke’s hand. Then he offers Luke the Empire. As father and son, they could rule side by side. It’s not a bad idea. And it shows that Vader is still all about family. In the end, Luke refuses the offer and retreats. If he hadn’t had help, though, Darth Vader would have absolutely obliterated him.
VS Ahsoka Tano
Star Wars: Rebels™
This one hurts! On Malachor™, Darth Vader reunites with his Padawan Ahsoka Tano™. Both of them have abandoned the Jedi Order™. Both of them have suffered innumerable losses, survived the war, and come out the other side with wounds both physical and emotional. Star Wars: Rebels explores Ahsoka and Anakin’s past and asks the question — what if Ahsoka refuses to leave this time?
The fight itself is really cool, especially because the animation in this show is so beautiful. Amid flashing lights and eye-catching geometric scenery, this heart-wrenching duel plays out in Darth Vader’s favor. From the beginning we don’t really question that he’ll defeat Ahsoka. We know he will. But the confirmation of his hatred, and how far gone he is, makes this scene so powerful.
VS Obi-Wan Kenobi
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith™
The duel that solidifies Anakin Skywalker’s™ downfall is this fateful last stand on the planet Mustafar™. Although it’s full of dramatic stunts, flips, and environmental hazards, at its core this duel is an extremely emotional one. Obi-Wan is fighting for Anakin to come back to the light while, with every swing of his blade, Anakin plunges further into the darkness. And now that he is no longer held back by the Jedi Code, Anakin is swinging to kill.
Despite Obi-Wan technically winning — he does get the high ground, after all — he and Darth Vader both lose this fight, because they lose each other. Still, Darth Vader emerges from this loss a supremely powerful being. He will go on to conquer worlds. And this final Revenge of the Sith duel is so poignant because the audience gets that sneak peek of his future ferocity, all coupled with the heartbreak of losing Anakin to the Sith™.
Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Reva™/Third Sister™ betrays Darth Vader. Vader, instead of simply cutting her down, splits her dual-blade saber in two so they can fight. The act itself is chilling because Vader clearly knows he is going to win. He is extending Reva some due respect while also showing her that’s he’s still leagues ahead of her.
Once they begin, you can’t take your eyes off them. Reva attacks with absolutely no holds barred. Vader is the stronger opponent, though, and matches each of her attacks with ease. Making quick work of his former protégé, Vader runs her through with her own lightsaber. Then he sticks around to gloat. It’s very in character, and reminds us that Darth Vader really is a cruel person. Of course, that only makes him a more compelling antagonist.
VS Old Ben Kenobi
Star Wars: A New Hope™
Darth Vader and Obi-Wan’s last fight is certainly slower than the rest. But that’s important. There’s no longer the need for theatrics or flashy moves. Both men are older and wiser. Confident in their abilities, they exchange blows more equivalent to a non-lethal fencing match. Here the fight is more psychological, anyway; Obi-Wan insists his death will make him more powerful than Darth Vader could ever be.
Thus Vader rises to the challenge. He deals a killing blow — only for Obi-Wan to vanish into thin air. Is Darth Vader the victor here? He acts like it, but we can tell that he doesn’t exactly feel like he is. It’s the perfect ending to the long series of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi duels. Later, they’ll be reunited as spirits. For now, though, Darth Vader can revel in yet another win.