He is the man, the myth, the legend— and one of the mot iconic villains in the galaxy. Darth Vader is one bad guy, but he’s also got a tortured past and a hefty share of family disfunction. Let’s take a look at the light and dark side of Vader.
24. Preview of Evil
Everyone is well acquainted with Vader’s theme song, “The Imperial March,” composed by the legendary John Williams. However, this signature song doesn’t just show up when Vader is an adult. Throughout Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker’s theme shares notes with “The Imperial March.”
23. James Earl Jones Was Not the First Pick
George Lucas struck gold with the velvet voice of James Earl Jones. However, Jones was not the first pick for the biggest baddie of them all. Lucas originally wanted Orson Welles, the legendary voice of radio himself, to play Vader, but eventually felt that Welles was too recognizable.
22. Take a Breath…
Remember the first time you heard Vader take a deep breath? Sound designer Ben Burtt achieved this effect by unconventional means: a scuba regulator. Burtt is also behind the sounds of R2D2 and the lightsabers.
21. A Home with Life-preserving Abilities
In Star Wars: Rogue One, audiences got the chance to see Darth Vader in his original evil glory for the first time in a long time. However, art designers put a lot of thought into what Vader’s home would look like: It was designed to be a place where Vader could go to meditate, heal, and rejuvenate after his turn to the dark side.
20. Initially, Luke Was Not His Son
Vader’s role in the franchise evolved as the story went on. Originally, Vader was meant to die in A New Hope, and Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader were meant to be two different people.
19. Spoiler Alert from 1978!
In 1978, David Prowse, the man who donned the suit and represented Vader’s body, had some loose lips. In front of a large local crowd in Berkeley, California, Prowse spoiled the ending of the series by announcing Luke Skywalker’s paternity. Thank goodness social media didn’t exist.
18. The Most Misquoted Line of All Time
It is a rite of passage for every Star Wars fan to act out the most iconic scene in the movie. However, some will probably get the quote wrong. Many people think that Darth Vader says, “Luke, I am your father.” However, the real quote is “No, I am your father.”
17. Samurai Inspiration
Lucas was inspired by samurai films when creating Star Wars, and Vader’s helmet and amor are a direct reference to the armor samurai wore.
16. 12 Minutes of Fame
For a guy who is the face of the Star Wars franchise, Vader sure has limited screen time in A New Hope: he is only seen on screen for a minuscule 12 minutes. Clearly, less is more.
15. The Uncredited Actors of Darth Vader
James Earl Jones and David Prowse were both uncredited in the first film. Jones later admitted that he did not want to be typecast in the role since he was an up-and-coming actor. Browse, for his part, did not feel the movie was going to do well, and did not want his name attached to the project if it didn’t.
14. The Voice Never Met the Body
Even though Jones and Prowse worked together to bring everyone’s favorite intergalactic baddie to life, the pair never met. Imagine creating an excellent project with a co-worker and never meeting them to shoot the breeze.
13. Household Supplies = Legendary Weapon
The lightsabers were made from some pretty mundane items. Vader’s lightsaber is composed of a flashgun and windshield wipers for grips; a very similar fashioning to his son Luke’s.
12. Mr. #1
What a way to start off a franchise! As Lucas was initially fleshing out the Star Wars universe, the first character he ever created was Darth Vader. This act foreshadows the considerable significance Vader’s role has had on the story.
11. Lost in Translation
In Italian releases of Star Wars, Vader had to undergo a name change. In Italian, “Vader” sounds close to a noun the Italian language uses for the toilet bowl. To remedy this, Vader was renamed “Lord Fener.”
10. So Much Potential…
Although Vader has the power to use Force Lightning, which his master Darth Sidious, or Emperor Palpatine has used at times in the series, it would likely come at a cost. Since the Force only travels through living things, with the amount of machinery that is now a part of Vader’s body he would likely die if he attempted to use the dark power.
9. From G to PG
After an initial screening, Star Wars was given a G rating (appropriate for general audiences). Lucas was not fond of this, as he thought the majority of moviegoers would see the film as a children’s movie. After inviting the MPAA rating board to another screening, a child began to cry when they saw Darth Vader kill Captain Antilles. This scene gave the film its PG rating.
8. You’re the Father!
Star Wars is such an expansive universe, many people wonder about essential details that were left out of the original story. In the DVD-released version of the films, Vader finds about about Luke’s existence in the Empire Strikes Back. In a comic book issue treated as canon, Boba Fett informs Vader of his son’s identity long before Empire Strikes Back.
7. Some Intergalactic Bad Blood
Prowse was reportedly very angry that his voice was dubbed over when he played Vader. Lucas dubbed Prowse because of his strong Bristol accent; the cast of Star Wars called him “Darth Farmer” while filming.
6. Vader Moonlights as a Gargoyle
In 1980, a contest was held to decide the Gargoyle decorations that would be added to the Washington National Cathedral. Third place winner Christopher Rader submitted a drawing of Darth Vader that was included as one of the gargoyles; he is still there to this day.
5. He Knows More Than He Lets On
Vader is known for his signature Force choke. However, he’s not a one trick pony: Vader can use the force to increase run speed, levitate, become invisible, absorb shots from blasters, and breathe without his mask.
4. 20 Years of Evil
Star Wars travels in and out of different timelines, so it can be confusing to know when specific events take place. A New Hope’s events occur nearly 20 years after Luke and Leia are born.
3. The Almost Missing Piece
Originally, costume designers and Lucas were only going to have Vader wear his now-iconic mask in space, but the menacing mask completed the look so well, they decided to have it become a permanent signature.
2. Vader Ties for An Awful Record
Vader ties with C3PO for the most limbs lost in the Star Wars universe. This guy has lost five limbs throughout the films. Five. Wow, talk about horrible luck.
1. Biblical Inspiration?
In Vader’s former life as Anakin Skywalker, his mother Shmi Skywalker claimed that Vader had no father. This admission by Shmi has some similarities to the Nativity story in the New Testament.