Lord Darth Vader
Lord Darth Vader
Inexplicably, she became pregnant with the Force-prodigy and carried him to term. Some among the Jedi believed this to be part of an ancient prophecy of a Chosen One, willed into life by the midi-chlorians, who would bring balance to an increasingly darkening Force. There was another possibility, though. The child could have been the creation of sinister Sith manipulations, as the Dark Lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious conspired to bring about the perfect apprentice by coaxing life from lifelessness. Once discovered by maverick Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin was taken before the Jedi Council to be trained.
There was some controversy on the subject -- despite Jinn's adamant assurances that Skywalker was one spoken of in the prophecy, the council was hesitant to allow his training at the age of nine. Finally, the Council agreed that Anakin should be trained, and he was assigned to Jedi Knight Obi Wan Kenobi. Kenobi recklessly thought that he could be as skillful as the Master Yoda. His mistakes had dire consequences for the galaxy. Skywalker was seduced by the dark side of the Force. His boundless abilities fueled a sense of pride that hastened his fall.
He chafed under the rigid strictures of the Jedi Code, and would discreetly transgress from the Jedi teachings to suit his wants. Despite it being forbidden, Skywalker secretly married his love Padmé Amidala. It was his deep-rooted concern for her safety that became his greatest weakness, one that the Sith Lord Darth Sidious was able to exploit. Skywalker was plagued with prophetic visions of his wife dying in childbirth. His friend and confidant, Chancellor Palpatine, revealed to the troubled young Jedi that a pathway to immortality lay among the teachings of the Sith.
Palpatine revealed himself to be the shadowy Sith Lord Darth Sidious, and poisoned Anakin's faculties with well-crafted words of praise and conspiracy. Anakin, who had reason to doubt the Jedi's capabilities and intentions, began to lean more and more to the dark side. When it came time to make the fateful decision, he agreed to follow Sidious' teachings and knelt before the dark master. Anakin was renamed Darth Vader. The Sith conspiracy, which had been festering in the shadows of the Republic for a thousand years, sprang into action.
The Chancellor elevated himself to the position of Emperor Palpatine, and dispatched Vader as his ultimate enforcer. With his unparalleled Force abilities, Vader swept through the Jedi Temple. He led his elite clone trooper forces through the polished corridors, cutting a swath of death and destruction through the remaining Jedi on Coruscant. Vader brought an end to the Clone Wars by slaughtering all the masterminds of the Confederacy of Independent Systems on Mustafar. In his twisted perception, he was bringing peace and order to the new Empire, wiping away the corruption and chaos of the Republic's twilight. Padmé followed Anakin to Mustafar, to plead for him to return from the dark side.
When Obi-Wan Kenobi emerged from Amidala's ship, Vader was consumed with rage. He saw treachery at every corner. Distraught, he began to telekinetically throttle Padmé. She gasped for air before collapsing, unconscious, on the Mustafar landing platform.
Shocked at how far his apprentice had fallen, Kenobi vowed to stop Vader and the two entered into a fierce lightsaber duel that traversed the burning Mustafar landscape. Despite his newfound power bestowed by the dark side of the Force, Anakin was grievously wounded in the fight. Kenobi's blade sheared from him his lower legs and his left arm, and his crippled body tumbled onto the searing black sands below. Vader caught fire, and he was severely burned all over his body. His anger kept him alive, and he was forever scarred not only by his wounds but also by betrayal.
Vader abandoned his former identity. Sidious took him from Mustafar to an Imperial rehabilitation center where he was rebuilt. When metal coupled with flesh in the form of cyborg implants and enhancements required to sustain him, Skywalker's transformation was complete. He was no longer Anakin -- he was Darth Vader. At the time of his transformation, Vader never knew that Padmé had given birth to twins.
Obi Wan Kenobi hid the children from the Dark Lord and Emperor Palpatine. Vader somehow discovered that he had a son, Luke Skywalker, but never suspected he had a daughter, Leia, who was secretly taken to be raised by Bail Organa, Viceroy and First Chairman of Alderaan. In the chaos that accompanied Palpatine's rise to power, Vader became one of the Emperor's most loyal servants. The Emperor entrusted him with the elimination of the Jedi Knights. During these dark times, Vader andhis agents destroyed the remnants of Jedi order. When the Galactic Civil War raged across the Empire, Darth Vader was tasked with discovering the location of the Rebel Alliance's secret base.
Vader captured Rebel operative Princess Leia Organa and had her tortured to reveal the location of the hidden fortress. Vader also sought technical plans stolen by the Rebels which contained the complete schematics of the Empire's most powerful weapon, the Death Star battle station. When a rescue team successfully liberated the princess, Vader found himself face to face with his former master, Obi Wan Kenobi. Vader defeated the aged Jedi Knight in a lightsaber duel. Using the stolen plans to pinpoint the Death Star's weakness, Rebel forces launched a starfighter attack on the station.
Entering the battle, Vader piloted his own specially modified fighter. He managed to destroy the most Rebel pilots in the battle, but was forced out of the conflict when his own vessel was crippled by the Millennium Falcon. Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, Vader led an elite squadron of Star Destroyers headed by his flagship, the Super Star Destroyer Executor. He was to seek out and capture the Rebels responsible for the Death Star's demise. Eventually, Vader tracked the Rebels down to the ice-world of Hoth.
There, he launched a ground attack destroying the base. His quarry, the Millennium Falcon, escaped. During the Hoth campaign, the Emperor commanded Vader to track down the "son of Skywalker," and have Vader turn him to the dark side of the Force. Vader planned to use Skywalker's friends as bait to lure him into a trap. He hired a motley gang of bounty hunters to track down the Falcon, and drew Luke to Bespin's Cloud City.
He and Luke clashed in a lightsaber duel that Vader won by ruthlessly severing Luke's sword-hand. Vader then revealed to the broken young Jedi that he was his father, and that they would rule the galaxy as father and son. Luke refused to succumb to the dark side, and escaped his father. Vader was left empty-handed. After these incidents, Palpatine reassigned Vader from the Imperial fleet, and instead put him in charge of overseeing the new Death Star operation.
The Emperor began to distrust his once loyal servant. Vader's contact with his son sparked something within him, something the Emperor did not like. Palpatine was scheduled to arrive at the second Death Star. The Emperor foresaw that Skywalker would come before the two, and then they would seduce young Luke to the dark side, just as Anakin had been drawn to its power decades earlier. When Luke surrendered, and was taken before the Emperor, Palpatine pitted father and son in a lightsaber duel. Skywalker refused to fight and give into the temptation of the dark side.
Vader, probing his mind, learned of his daughter, Leia Organa. He threatened to turn her to the dark side. At this threat, Luke gave into his hatred and attacked his father. In the ferocious assault that followed, young Skywalker nearly killed Vader. Horrified by what he had become, Luke abandoned his newfound dark side rage, and refused Palpatine's offers of power.
"I am a Jedi, like my father before me," Skywalker proudly claimed. Palpatine unleashed a deadly barrage of dark side energy at the young Jedi. Lightning bolts spawned from pure evil tore into Luke's body with searing pain. Vader stood helplessly, watching his son writhe in agony from torture delivered by his master. Unable to watch anymore, Vader turned against the Emperor.
He grabbed a surprised Palpatine from behind, hoisted him above his head, and tossed his evil master down a bottomless reactor shaft. Vader was bombarded by the Emperor's Force lightning, mortally wounding him. As he lay dying, Vader ceased to be. Anakin Skywalker returned. He asked his son to remove the cumbersome, fearsome mask that had concealed his face for decades.
His mask and life support removed, Anakin looked upon Luke for the first and last time. He then died, his body disappearing into the light side of the Force. Luke burned the dark armor that had encased Anakin's crippled body in a quiet funeral pyre on the forest moon of Endor that night. From the Expanded Universe: As an agent of the Sith, Vader was a merciless killer. He brought about the extinction of the Jedi, personally slaying or crippling such notable knights as Koffi Arana, An'ya Kuro, Roan Shryne, Halagad Ventor and Empatojayos Brand.
The slaughter of the Jedi was widespread, but several Force-sensitive individuals were spared. Select agents of the Emperor were allowed to keep their knowledge of the Force, as long as they used it as the Emperor commanded. Others hid, as Vima-Da-Boda did in the slums of Nar Shaddaa, or Obi-Wan Kenobi did in the deserts of Tatooine. As Palpatine grew in political power, so too did Vader's star rise. On Coruscant, an immense palace was awarded to the Dark Lord.
Another such monument, Bast Castle, existed on the distant world of Vjun. The Emperor allowed Vader to train a precious few in the Force to act as agents, such as Lord Hethrir and Vost Tyne. Though Vader instructed acolytes such as these with the full cooperation of the Emperor, he kept in his arsenal a secret apprentice. As befitting the Sith tradition, the Dark Lord harbored treacherous thoughts against the Emperor, and honed his apprentice's abilities for the one day when an opportunity for Vader to ascend to a position of master presented itself. In the aftermath of the Clone Wars, the planet Honoghr was devastated by contamination from crashed warships.
The Empire, recognizing the deadly value of the powerful and stealthy native Noghris, stepped in to help cleanse the world of the deadly pollutants. In truth, they were exploiting the natives' sense of honor, as Imperial reclamation projects simply cleaned up enough of the contamination to keep the Noghri in the Empire's debt. Darth Vader became a central figure of authority to the Noghri, his own dark armor reminding them of their harsh features. The Noghri became yet another weapon for Vader to stealthily wield against his enemies. Vader, never much of a statesman, eschewed politics in favor of a more martial role in the Imperial command structure.
Early in the Empire, Vader was granted authority over the 501st Legion of stormtroopers, and a personal capital flagship, the Exactor. Many in the Imperial hierarchy resented Vader's position of privilege. Vader's capriciousness was legendary. He would often kill veteran officers for moments of incompetence.
For his chilling managerial style, Vader had to weather a treasonous revolt from a handful of Imperial officers who tried to do away with the Dark Lord. Their assassination attempt failed, and Vader was none too amused. Still possessing Anakin Skywalker's amazing piloting and engineering skills, Vader oversaw the initial designs for the Sienar Fleet Systems TIE Advanced starfighter. His position in the Imperial ranks gave him the first prototype model, the x1, as an exclusive fighter. The modified craft's compact hyperdrive came in handy when Vader found himself in the depths of space following the destruction of the Death Star. Returning to the Empire, Vader was formally reprimanded for his failure to stop the Rebels.
He then continued his mission to find the Rebel base. His search took him to such worlds as Ultaar and Centares. He tortured a Rebel pilot that led him to discover the identity of the Death Star's killer, Luke Skywalker. Equipped with this information, Vader orchestrated a number of plans to capture the young Rebel. He involved the House of Tagge family of nobles in a plot to capture Skywalker on the world of Monastery.
He used an actor posing as Obi-Wan Kenobi to lure Skywalker to the planet Aridus. When Governor Bin Essada learned that Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa were on Circarpous V, he contacted the Dark Lord. Vader traveled to the jungle world, and faced the Rebels in the abandoned Temple of Pomojema. Guided by the spirit of Obi-Wan, Luke severed Vader's prosthetic right arm in combat.
Vader, amazingly, survived the wound, and was ready to continue. The Dark Lord toppled into a sacrificial well as the fight resumed, and the Rebels escaped. After the Battle of Hoth, Vader found himself in a complex game of strategy against the scheming criminal mastermind, Prince Xizor. The prince, who had long hated Vader due to a planetary bombardment ordered by the Dark Lord on Xizor's homeworld of Falleen, was attempting to discredit Vader in the sickly yellow eyes of the Emperor. Xizor had long been a rival for the Emperor's attentions.
He sought to foil Vader's plan to capture Skywalker for the Emperor by having Luke assassinated first. Vader discovered Xizor's plot, and killed him in an assault high over Coruscant. Behind the Scenes The name of Darth Vader was first introduced as a tall, grim-looking general in the rough draft of Star Wars. It was not until the second draft that the character of Vader appeared in a recognizable form. Vader's fearsome face-mask came about almost by accident.
Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie designed the mask since the early drafts had Vader board Leia's captured starship by crossing the vacuum of space, a circumstance that necessitated a breathing apparatus. Little did McQuarrie realize that the reason for the mask was more deep-rooted than that. For the original trilogy, bodybuilder and actor Dave Prowse played the physical body of Darth Vader, filling out the costume with his considerable physique and commanding stature. For Vader's demanding lightsaber combat in Episodes V and VI, stunt performer Bob Anderson played the role, wearing lifts to accommodate for the difference in his height from Prowse's. Vader's voice was supplied by James Earl Jones, who at first went uncredited, feeling that his contribution was too small to receive recognition.
In time, the role would become one of the ones to which Jones was most closely associated. Vader at first played a limited role in the expanded universe of Star Wars publishing, since the editors of those spin-off works did not know what the films would have in store. As such, Vader tended to plot through proxy villains -- like the House of Tagge nobles or Lumiya that appeared in the early Marvel series. The 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, took the uncharacteristic step of pitting Vader directly against Luke, resulting in their first depicted lightsaber duel. Vader's arm is severed in that battle, and it's only with the hindsight provided by the prequel trilogy do readers now realize it was an artificial arm to begin with. Vader would be a recurring presence in Star Wars video and interactive games, more often serving as a commanding presence shaping the storyline (like in the TIE Fighter Space Simulator game) than as a boss or opponent.
An interactive video board-game released by Parker Bros. in the mid-1990s had Prowse and Jones reprise their role as Darth Vader, with all new footage of the Dark Lord menacing players from a VHS tape as they moved their pieces across the board. Since the completion of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Vader has been the central character in a number of important spin-off books and projects, such as the novel Dark Lord and The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader. The 2008 video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has Vader be a major presence, as the game revolves around his hitherto unrevealed secret apprentice. Read more on Last.fm.
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