Darth Vader: The Villain with No Fear
It all began with the Force.
For thousands of years, this mysterious universe-binding energy was wielded righteously by the Jedi, ensuring the peace of countless worlds. But then, the Sith came. These masters of mayhem had branched off from the Jedi Order to pursue power, preferring the rise of the self to the well-being of others.
One of these Sith Lords was Darth Plagueis. The Sith operated by the Rule of Two – a master and an apprentice. The apprentice of Plagueis eventually grew more powerful than his master, and he killed him in his sleep.
This apprentice, who would later be feared by the galaxy as the Galactic Emperor, had learned many of his master’s dark secrets – one of which was the ability to create life. Manipulating the midi-chlorians, Sheev Palpatine was able to cause a slave woman named Shmi to become pregnant without a father.
Her child was Anakin Skywalker.
The Chosen One
Anakin and his mother endured a life of slavery until they met two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. By winning a pod race on Tatooine, Anakin helped the Jedi financially so they could get their ship fixed. Qui-Gon could sense that the Force was very strong with the boy, and he decided to train him as a Jedi Padawan.
It was believed that Anakin was the Chosen One, something of a Jedi messiah who would bring balance to the Force and defeat the dark side. But, for a while at least, the Force had different plans. Qui-Gon was killed by Palpatine’s apprentice, Darth Maul. Therefore, Obi-Wan became Anakin’s master, teaching him about the universe and the ways of the Force. Obi-Wan was like a father to Anakin, but their relationship would eventually end in extreme tragedy.
As a child, Anakin was very kind, but this didn’t stop the Jedi Council from doubting him at every turn. They said he was too old to begin training, and they were concerned about his vulnerability to the Dark Side. Their fears would prove to be well founded.
One cause of Anakin’s eventual downfall was his intense love for Senator Padme Amidala, former Queen of Naboo. Their friendship grew to something more when he was assigned as her protector. Romantic relationships were forbidden for the Jedi Order, but this didn’t stop Anakin.
A Rebel Jedi
Rebellious, brash, and confident, Anakin always believed that his way was the correct way. As a Padawan, he constantly butted heads with Obi-Wan and the rest of the Jedi. However, though he was a very different type of Jedi, his personality won him many victories, and the galaxy eventually christened him The Hero with No Fear.
Aside from his relationship with Padme, another major factor contributed to Anakin’s descent into darkness – the death of his mother. On Tatooine, he discovered that Shmi had been tortured by Tusken Raiders and she died of her wounds right before his eyes. This affected him deeply – he hadn’t seen her in years, and he blamed her death on himself because he left to become to Jedi. He mercilessly slaughtered the Tusken Raiders, and his hatred grew tenfold.
Around the same time, Obi-Wan discovered that an army of clones had been secretly engineered to protect the Republic. This Clone Army was first used at the Battle of Geonosis, where Anakin, Obi Wan, and Padme fought for their lives against insurmountable odds.
Palpatine, working behind the scenes as Galactic Chancellor, had secretly orchestrated the rise of the Separatists, who broke off from the Republic and initiated a war using a droid army. No one knew that Palpatine was a Sith Lord – except for his apprentice, Count Dooku (Darth Tyrannus). Darth Maul had seemingly been killed a decade before, and Palpatine now trusted Dooku to carry out his dark designs.
Dooku was only temporary, however. Palpatine knew that he would eventually train a far more powerful apprentice in the form of young Skywalker.
The Clone Wars
The Clone Wars raged on for 3 years, with Anakin winning many battles and rising up to become the most powerful of the Jedi. No longer a Padawan, he became the Master of Ahsoka Tano, with whom he developed a very close friendship.
Eventually, Ahsoka left the Jedi Order after being framed for a terrorist attack, but Anakin’s tenure as her teacher had forever impacted his character, making him even stronger and more mature. They would meet again, but not before the fall of the Republic.
During the Clone Wars, General Skywalker worked relentlessly to track down Dooku, General Grievous, and other Separatist villains. Aside from battles, his life was full of political intrigue thanks to instances of kidnapping, coups, and betrayals. He came home every so often to his secret wife, none other than Senator Amidala.
One important event in the war was the rescue of Chancellor Palpatine from General Grievous’ flagship. Count Dooku was aboard as well, and he engaged Skywalker and Kenobi in a lightsaber duel. Anakin finally got into position to kill the Count, but he hesitated. The Chancellor egged him on, and Anakin decapitated Dooku, even though such an act was not befitting of a Jedi. Little did Anakin know, the Chancellor who pushed him to murder was actually the master Sith Lord.
After this event, Padme revealed to Anakin that she was pregnant. Though taken aback at first, Anakin was overjoyed at the prospect of fatherhood, no longer caring if the Jedi knew of their secret family. But darkness would descend on the couple before they could run away together. Anakin had horrible dreams of Padme dying during childbirth. He sought counsel and comfort from Chancellor Palpatine, who had taken Anakin under his wing.
This was all part of the Sith Lord’s plan, and Palpatine may have been the one who put the dreams into Anakin’s head. Indeed, Palpatine had wanted Anakin as his apprentice for a long time, and he had manipulated the young Jedi with “friendship” and “understanding” for years.
Palpatine eventually revealed himself to be Darth Sidious. Anakin initially sought to defeat him by warning the Jedi Council, but things changed very quickly. Mace Windu led a party of Jedi to arrest Sidious, but the Dark Lord killed most of them with ease. Only Windu was left, and when he was close to finally defeating the Sith, Anakin arrived and saved Sidious from death, betraying the entire Jedi Order by cutting off Windu’s arm and allowing Sidious to kill him.
Sidious had previously told Anakin that he could help him save Padme from dying during childbirth, and Anakin loved his wife so dearly that he just couldn’t help himself – he joined Sidious, learning the ways of the Dark Side that had already grown so strong within him due to his hatred. Sidious sealed Skywalker’s destiny by uttering these words:
“Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth…Vader.”
No longer a Jedi, no longer good, and no longer Anakin, Vader began his reign of terror by murdering the Jedi younglings in the Temple. Sidious was using him to wipe out the Jedi, making way for him to become the Galactic Emperor.
At the same time, it was revealed that the Clone Troopers had actually been created to betray the Jedi and enforce the will of the Empire. After the execution of Order 66, they hunted down and destroyed the Jedi as Anakin flew home to speak to Padme.
Vader was enraged that Obi-Wan, having learned the truth, had told Padme about how evil Anakin had become. He believed that Obi-Wan had turned Padme against him, and he left in a rage to the planet Mustafar, where he wiped out the Separatist leaders. Padme followed him, and Obi Wan had secretly stowed away on her ship.
When Padme reached Anakin at Mustafar, she pleaded with him to run away with her. Obi-Wan emerged from the spacecraft, filling Vader with intense rage. Vader used the Force to choke his own pregnant wife, which would eventually lead to her death. Obi-Wan intervened and confronted Anakin, no longer as a friend or mentor, but as an enemy.
A fierce battle ensued between the two of them. Obi-Wan pleaded for Anakin to embrace reason, but his former apprentice had been totally consumed by darkness.
Darth Vader’s cockiness eventually got the best of him. Attempting an impossible jump to kill the Jedi, Vader had his limbs severed by Kenobi. Vader was then ignited by lava, and he suffered in pain as Kenobi watched with deep sadness before leaving his best friend to die on the volcanic planet.
Sidious sensed Vader’s suffering, and he rushed to Mustafar to rescue him. Hours later, Padme began giving birth to twins – Luke and Leia. As they were being delivered, Vader experience a rebirth of his own. Mechanical parts were grafted onto him, including a helmet and breathing apparatus that the galaxy would come to fear above all else.
His transformation complete, Vader’s first question was, “Where is Padme?” As Anakin had feared, his wife died during childbirth.
Sidious somehow knew of the tragedy, and he told him what happened, saying that Vader had caused his wife’s death. It was then that his full power was revealed. Through intense anger and grief, Vader’s Force connection shook the floor and destroyed the medical machines. Sidious smiled, happy that he had helped create the most powerful being in the universe.
Vader’s children were hidden away so that he couldn’t learn of their existence – Luke was taken to Tatooine and Leia to Alderaan. If he hadn’t been so blinded by anger, Vader may have been able to see that his children were alive and would have been able to find them. As it was, however, Vader would enforce the Empire’s rule for years without discovering them.
Crushing the Rebellion
Under his master’s direction, Vader went on to lead brutal military campaigns that caused the deaths of thousands. A rebellion still existed, made up of multi-species freedom fighters and the last remnants of the Jedi. Vader helped hunt these rebels down for nearly twenty years, but the Empire never could stamp them out completely.
In fact, two of the most powerful Jedi worked in the shadows to help overthrow the Empire. Master Yoda was in exile on Dagobah, while Vader’s mentor, Obi-Wan, remained on Tatooine to watch over and eventually train Vader’s son.
One notable event involved Vader’s former apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. No longer considered a Jedi, Tano fought alongside the Rebels, including Ezra Bridger, on several occasions.
Eventually, she crossed paths with Vader, and she tried with all her might to remind him of who he used to be. However, Vader was too consumed by the Dark Side, and he seemingly killed his old Padawan in a lightsaber duel (she secretly survived with the help of a time-traveling Ezra).
A few years later, the Rebellion acquired the Empire’s plans for a superweapon, the Death Star. Vader sought out and killed many of these Rebels, also capturing his the diplomat Princess Leia Organa. It appeared that Vader didn’t even know she was his daughter at the time. She was later rescued by a band of heroes that included her brother, Luke, as well as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Vader sensed his old master’s presence, and he defeated Obi-Wan as the other heroes escaped. It was not the end for Kenobi, however – he was strong enough in the Force for his spirit to endure as a Force Ghost.
For several years, Vader searched for Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebels. He found and engaged them on the planet Hoth, but the good guys were able to flee. As his friends continued their own skirmishes with the Empire, Luke traveled to Dagobah to be taught the ways of the Force by Yoda.
Luke went through a grueling period of training, and he left before it was complete in order to save his friends. At Cloud City, an epic lightsaber battle began between father and son. Luke impressed Vader with his skills, but it wasn’t enough.
Vader cut off the hand of his offspring and stood above him. Luke hadn’t even known that Vader was his father, but he discovered this harrowing fact as he lost the duel. Vader asked Luke to join him in galactic conquest, but Skywalker refused before escaping against all odds.
Years passed once again, and Luke became strong in the ways of the Force. As epic battles raged on between the Empire and the Rebellion, Luke allowed himself to be captured by his father. Vader and Emperor Sidious both believed that they could win Skywalker over to their cause, but they were mistaken.
Still Good in Him
Father and son fought once more, and Luke defeated Vader without killing him. With Luke refusing to join the dark side, the Emperor’s only option was to kill the last surviving Jedi. But something happened then that the Emperor did not expect. Anakin returned.
The powerful Darth Vader felt pity and love for his son, and he threw the Emperor into a pit, ending his rule. Anakin had finally brought balance to the Force.
Unfortunately, this act also left Vader damaged beyond repair. Luke tried to escape the ship with his father, but it was too late. Anakin Skywalker finally died in the arms of his son, right after getting the chance to see Luke without the artificial eyes of his fearsome helmet.
As for the rest of the war, the Rebellion had won it completely. During a celebration, Luke Skywalker saw the spirits of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda, all at perfect peace – along with the rest of the galaxy.
But it was not the end of the dark side (and perhaps it never will be.) Vader’s legacy lived on in his grandson, Ben Solo, who would come to reject his Jedi training and become the dreaded Kylo Ren, inspired by his grandfather’s time in darkness, ignoring his return to the light.
The history of Anakin Skywalker and his journey as Darth Vader is a complicated, emotional evolution across several trilogies of galactic Star Wars saga. What do you think of the Villain with No Fear? Let Your Geek Sideshow and let us know what you think in the comments!