Get excited… Star Wars is back!
Yes, one of the world’s biggest and best film franchises is set to release another installment later this month and it positively has everybody jumping for joy. And why shouldn’t they be? Star Wars, with it’s ambitious stories and cast of colorful characters has well and truly captured the imagination of millions around the globe.
In its fabled saga, there is probably no character more iconic than the legendary Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. Vader’s character, everything from his troubled backstory to his unforgettable heavy-breathed voice, is etched in the memory of everyone who has ever set eyes on him.
So, before the latest installment of the Star Wars saga hits the big screen on December 18th, we celebrate by taking a look at some of the most interesting and lesser known facts about the most enigmatic character in the history of the larger-than-life series.
10 He Uses a Hybrid Fighting Technique for Lightsaber Duels
You might have noticed that from Episode III:Revenge of the Sith to Episode IV: A New Hope that Vader’s dueling style during lightsaber battles changes dramatically. There’s a reason for that.
The style change is not entirely due to growth in age as you would suspect. Rather, the change in techniques is due in part to Vader’s cybernetic suit and the fact that he adopted a hybrid technique that couples traditional Jedi style in the “Form V” along with a more Sith orientated style. This mix-up helps to throw off his enemies during a fight allowing the Dark Lord to get the upper hand.
9 He Had a Secret Apprentice
Darth Vader was, ironically, always kind of a rebel.
Throughout his whole life, we can see that he had a thing for breaking or bending the rules. His tenure with the Sith was not really different. In another of the EU (expanded universe) stories, we were told of how he had taken to secretly training an apprentice, Galen Marek, aka Starkiller (yes, the same concept name for Luke Skywalker).
Unfortunately for Lord Vader, Starkiller would not end up working out for him the way he had hoped as he sought to make a stronger, more loyal apprentice through clone technology.
8 He Wasn’t Supposed to Have a Helmet
In his original concept designs, George Lucas didn’t envision the iconic character having his trademark helmet. Rather, Lucas had pictured him in what we would know call a more “traditional” Sith attire: Dark hood and face cover. It wasn’t until one of Lucas’s artists had developed a design for the costume that would feature the unique helmet that it became a possibility for the character’s look.
Lucas would in the end decide that the helmet was the permanent feature for the character. Thank goodness he did, because many of us simply couldn’t imagine him appearing in any other way!
7 The Sith were Responsible for his Birth?
In the Expanded Universe novel "Darth Plagueis", which centers on Emperor Palpatine’s Sith master, we are given a doozy piece of information: the Sith might very well be responsible for the birth of Anakin Skywalker.
As referenced by Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, Plagueis was hard at work experimenting with the manipulation of midi-chlorians to create life and protect those he cared about. One of his efforts sent out a blast so powerful, it was felt in the Force throughout the universe. This was, quite possibly, the cause of Shmi Skywalker’s impregnation.
6 He Was Captured by The Rebellion
In one of the Expanded Universe’s stories, Darth Vader, while on Kamino attempting to create a better, more obedient clone of his secret apprentice, Starkiller, got captured by the rebel forces. Ultimately, the rebels weren’t able to keep guard of the Dark Lord and he was able to commandeer one of their starships and head back to the Death Star.
While the protagonists did ultimately best Vader, they were nearly able to do it years earlier and with far less spilled blood; a definite blow to the Rebel Alliance that sorely wanted to end the war.
5 The Cybernetic Suit is Part of the Reason for His Reduced Powers
The initial plan for Anakin Skywalker’s turn to become Darth Vader was, as Emperor Palpatine had put it to Yoda, to have an apprentice more powerful than either of them. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t exactly work out that way.
After he had lost the battle to Obi-Wan on Mustafar, Anakin Skywalker was badly burned, had his limbs cut off, and was near death. While the emperor was able to save him, he needed to have machine limbs attached and was fitted into a near-robotic cybernetic suit.
With these losses and his very mechanical and regulated new digs, Vader was not able to retain many of the Force powers used by the Sith and Jedi, such as the use of “Force Lightning.” However, he still retained some powers, including the “Force Choke” which would go on to be a staple move of his.
4 Record for “Most Limbs Cut Off”
Star Wars has a lot of action - like, a lot. So, it’s inevitable that in all the dueling, some things might just go wrong.
If it seems like in just about every Star Wars film somebody loses a body part, well, that’s because it’s pretty much a rite of passage in the “galaxy far, far away.” From the wampa on Hoth, to Luke Skywalker himself, it seems like just about everybody loses a limb. However, none have lost more than Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader thus far into the 6th film of the saga.
Vader lost both of his legs and both of his arms and an additional cybernetic arm for a whopping amount of body parts lost in battle. One could argue that C-3PO has lost more, but as he is a droid and is relatively easy to reassemble, Vader’s human losses seem far more paramount.
3 The Button Pad on his Chest is a Control Panel
Despite popular belief, the panel of buttons on the chest of Darth Vader’s suit are not useless, nor ceremonial, nor just for decoration… they serve as a control panel for his cybernetic suit.
Yes, the panel serves to, amongst other things, help regulate the temperature within the suit and the flow of oxygen. Pretty straightforward stuff if you think about it, but easy to think otherwise due to the lack of its use during the film series.
2 He Helped Develop Mind-Control Drugs
If you recall, there’s a scene in A New Hope when Darth Vader confronts a captive Princess Leia and threatens to torture her and inject her with some kind of truth serum. It turns out that the Sith lord was, in part, responsible for its development.
In the Extended Universe, we are told this was part of "Operation Twilight", where Vader was working along with some scientist to develop something that would help erase his memories of his wife Padme. Through these efforts, the works were developed into a weapon of sorts, to be used against the Empire’s foes.
1 His Legacy Will Continue to be a Part of the Saga
Simply put, Vader’s importance in the history of the war between the Rebel Alliance/New Republic and the Galactic Empire is too important to be forgotten.
In the expanded universe, we are told that Vader, after his death, does have contact with the New Order of Jedi along with the New Republic through means of the other world. You know, the one we have seen Obi-Wan and Yoda occupy.
It’s now known that Kylo Ren, the new episode’s chief antagonist, is a great admirer of the fallen dark lord. Now, which avenue the J.J. Abrams and Co. choose to go down remains to be seen, but they have options.