Darth Vader is arguably one of the most iconic villains in sci-fi history. Indeed, the Jedi-turned-cyborg proved to be so popular in the original Star Wars trilogy that he now features in both video games and novels as well as having a Marvel comic-book series of his own. But even so, there are some things you may have missed when it comes to the fearsome Sith Lord…
60. He rarely uses Force Lightning for a reason
Contrary to popular belief, Vader does have experience with the power known as Force Lightning. He just chooses not to use it – and for good reason, too. That’s because while the villain’s iconic black suit may appear protective, it’s actually sensitive to both exterior forces and electric energy. Therefore, whenever Vader attempts to use Force Lightning, he becomes weaker himself as a result.
59. His armor is merely a life-support system
So, it turns out that Vader’s suit of armor isn’t anywhere near as indestructible and imposing as it may be perceived. In fact, he likely wouldn’t be wearing it at all if it didn’t keep him alive. Yes, the iconic, head-to-toe-black outfit may look super-threatening, but its main function is simply to keep the old and fragile man inside it thriving.
58. He was practicing living without the mask
However, although Vader may need his life-supporting suit of armor, he has been able to take off his restrictive face wear. In The Empire Strikes Back, for example, the villain can be seen breathing without his famous helmet in a meditation chamber that’s heavily pressurized. And while these sessions may have been painful, Vader used them to fuel his antipathy and therefore become even stronger. He eventually wanted to live life without using the mask at all.
57. He recognized C-3PO in Cloud City
The Star Wars prequels may have caused many fans to wonder just why Vader hadn’t recognized the humanoid robot known as C-3PO in the original films. Well, “Thank the Maker,” a strip published in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales #6, gives some much-needed context. During the Empire Strikes Back timeline, Vader does in fact recall his childhood experiences of working on C-3PO when he’s given pieces of the droid. In an unusually compassionate move, however, he chooses not to obliterate C-3PO’s parts but instead hands them over to Chewbacca.
56. He shouldn’t have survived the Mustafar duel
Although Anakin Skywalker had already moved over to the dark side beforehand, many consider his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi to be the exact moment when he truly became Darth Vader. It’s a miracle that Vader even survived the lengthy fight on Mustafar against his former mentor at all, though, since he was essentially dismantled limb by limb during the fight. And unless Vader’s body was immediately discovered by the Emperor after the skirmish, it’s hard to determine how he lived to see another day.
55. Many of his bones were replaced
Vader may have survived the duel on Mustafar, but he still went through hell. In fact, as well as suffering major burns and losing the majority of his limbs, he also severely damaged many of his bones. And the book Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log revealed that these bones were replaced artificially as a result. It turns out, then, that Vader is just as much of a machine inside as he is outside.
54. Boba Fett told him that Luke is his son
The prequels also got fans pondering how Vader had discovered that his wife, Padmé, had given birth before she passed away. Well, in the sixth part of Marvel comic-book series Star Wars 6: Skywalker Strikes, we learn that Boba Fett plays a major part in that reveal. You see, after finding Luke and learning of his Skywalker surname, Fett subsequently informs Vader that he’s a father.
53. He once fought Boba Fett
Vader and Boba Fett haven’t always been on such friendly terms, however. In fact, in the fourth volume of the Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire comic, the duo actually engage in combat. The beef kicks off when Vader attempts to nab an item he is looking for that the bounty hunter has in his possession. Fett is unwilling to just hand the object over, though, and so hits Vader with a series of projectiles – although he is soon overwhelmed by the Sith Lord’s powers.
52. He learned how to be a force ghost from an unlikely source
Obi-Wan Kenobi learned how to appear as a blue Force Ghost thanks to the spirit of Qui-Gonn Jinn. And it seems as though he then inadvertently passed on this trick to his former protégé. Although some believe that Sidious taught Vader how to become a Force Ghost, he is more likely to have discovered the technique after watching his one-time mentor’s body vanish in A New Hope.
51. He never tried looking for Obi-Wan
However, there’s something odd about the relationship between Vader and Obi-Wan that is yet to be resolved in the Star Wars universe. After all, you would expect such a merciless villain to seek revenge on the man who essentially turned him into a cyborg needing constant life support. And yet not once does Vader ever attempt to look for the individual responsible for that horrible fate.
50. He waited a long time to try and save his mother
And there’s also an issue when it comes to the fate of Vader’s mother. After being rescued from a life of slavery as a youngster, Anakin Skywalker – the future Vader, of course – tells his enslaved mom that he will return to save her. And yet it seems that years go by before Anakin even thinks about heading back to his home planet of Tatooine. He even had plenty of opportunities while training to help rescue his mother – but he only appears to remember his promise after experiencing a vision of his parent in peril.
49. Tarkin knew Vader’s true identity
One Star Wars character in particular realized Vader’s true identity early on. And this was long before it became headline news in the Empire and, indeed, the rest of the Star Wars universe many years after the villain’s passing. James Luveno’s novel Tarkin reveals that during the Clone Wars, Anakin helped the titular Grand Moff to escape from a Separatist jail. As a result, Wilhuff Tarkin was able to recognize just who the man inside the all-black outfit actually was.
48. He was once a regular Imperial General
And Tarkin and Vader may well have been sworn enemies, had the latter kept the ranking that was originally included in the script of A New Hope. You see, Vader was initially a general before the screenwriters decided to further flesh out his character, motives and life story. Had he remained a mere Imperial Officer, then, he could possibly have been a rival for Tarkin – as was the case with Krennic in Rogue One.
47. He briefly took on a sidekick
Vader might not exactly be renowned as a team player, but he did once briefly – if reluctantly – seek some outside help. Described as an anti-Indiana Jones, Doctor Aphra was an archaeologist who earned her living by thieving historic items from museums – making her a perfect fit, then, for the Sith Lord. And in Vader’s comic series, Aphra helped to gather some information that proved to be vital to his search for both Cylo and his apprentices.
46. He was wounded by a former apprentice
It’s fair to say, though, that Vader had much more trouble with another former apprentice. In Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels, he enters into a battle with the man who once assisted him during the Clone Wars shortly before his crossover to the dark side. And Ahsoka Tano very nearly wins the duel, wounding his former boss and cutting off some of his mask, before they are both disrupted by a collapsing structure.
45. He was almost killed by Princess Leia
Princess Leia very nearly killed both herself and Vader before discovering that he was in fact her father. In the Marvel Comics crossover series Vader Down, Leia goes up against the Dark Lord following his destruction of her Alderaan home planet. Aiming for payback, she then requests a Y-Wing bombing run – which would have ultimately proved fatal for both parties. Eventually, though, the unlikely father-and-daughter pairing walk away unharmed.
44. The Emperor blamed him for the Death Star’s destruction
Vader and the Emperor certainly had a fractious relationship during the period from A New Hope to The Empire Strikes Back. In particular, the Emperor held Vader responsible for the destruction of the Death Star – a project that had originally cost the Empire a great deal in both time and money. Vader had been tasked with overseeing the Death Star, too, and with no other survivors to shoulder the blame, he felt the full force of the Emperor’s ire.
43. Palpatine secretly trained various Vader replacements
And the Emperor didn’t just give Vader a stern telling-off for destroying the Death Star. In fact, he tried to make him entirely surplus to requirements by creating a host of cyber replacements. The Emperor teamed up with the equally heinous Doctor Cylo for the project; after Vader learned of the plan, however, he tracked down and dispatched each and every possible substitute.
42. He was loyal to Darth Sidious
While Vader had a complicated relationship with Darth Sidious, he remained loyal to him throughout. Despite having numerous opportunities to murder his Sith master, he refused to take advantage of any of them. And in Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin – a comic-book series set in an alternate timeline – he even uses Force Push to save Sidious from a detonated bomb. Indeed, while Sidious and Vader may have been constantly warring with each other, Sidious was the only ally Vader had in the end.
41. He massacred various Clone Troopers
However, Vader was less loyal to the Clone Troopers with whom he regularly fought alongside as Anakin Skywalker. In the Darth Vader comic series set in the wake of Revenge of the Sith, the villain is tasked with hunting down any surviving Jedis. But the Clone Troopers on board the ship containing the valuable information that Vader needs fail to recognize the Dark Lord in his new suit. And so after the Troopers attempt to prevent Vader from carrying out his duties, they are ruthlessly massacred.
40. His right hand is different to the rest of his body
While the majority of Vader’s broken body had to be operated on by droids following the duel in Mustafar, his right hand remained intact. This was because it had already been damaged during an earlier duel with Count Dooku, and so Anakin Skywalker had subsequently used armored shielding to create a prosthetic version. However, the hand didn’t go completely untouched by the droids.
39. He’s partly sustained by magic
Indeed, while the bulk of Vader’s hand remained the same, the droids did still strengthen its metal parts by attaching it to a magical Sith amulet. This use of ancient Sith alchemy was then utilized to thwart an attack from Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. And that’s not the only occasion on which Vader has benefited from a little magic; his muscles were also made stronger through the Sith chemicals stored in his suit.
38. His New Hope screen time lasts just 12 minutes
Few movie baddies have proved that quality trumps quantity more than Vader. Indeed, the Sith Lord made a colossal impact as the villain of the piece in the original 1977 Star Wars movie, despite his screen time amounting to little more than 12 minutes in total. That means that Vader only appeared in a tenth of A New Hope’s 121-minute running time.
37. He had a special title
Having been promoted from Imperial General in the original script, Vader was then given an elite new job title all of his own: the Emissary of the Emperor. This explains why the Sith Lord was essentially allowed to do pretty much anything he wanted, from strangling generals to starting full-blown wars.
36. He’s not as fearsome as he thinks
However, despite his high-ranking status as the Emissary of the Emperor, Vader doesn’t necessarily strike fear into the rest of the Empire’s hearts. In fact, far from respecting him, many believe that Vader is simply a lapdog for both the Emperor and Grand Moff Tarkin. The only guaranteed way he can become a commanding force, then, is by using the full might of his powers.
35. He has supersonic hearing and vision
But Vader is probably capable of hearing fear whenever he goes on the warpath, since the villain’s iconic mask allows him to hear things from a range of twice that of the average human. If that weren’t enough, the mask also helps Vader to see in both ultraviolet and infrared – meaning there is no scenario in which it is possible to truly hide from him.
34. He wasn’t originally Anakin Skywalker
Vader’s job title isn’t the only thing that dramatically changed from the original script. Indeed, in Leigh Brackett’s The Empire Strikes Back screenplay, the Sith Lord isn’t any relation to Luke Skywalker at all. This explains why Luke is told by Obi-Wan in A New Hope that his father was murdered by Vader. And while this can now be interpreted as an allusion to Anakin going over to the dark side, Brackett’s script means that this revelation could have been taken literally.
33. Luke isn’t the first Jedi Rebel he meets
In Star Wars Rebels, we learn that Luke isn’t the first Jedi rebel that Vader has had to deal with. Long before his son enters the picture, Vader battles with two of the show’s main characters: Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger. The pair only just end up escaping the duel with their lives, in fact, but they later help create the Rebel Alliance that eventually takes Vader down.
32. The Nazis inspired his suit design
And Vader’s suit was inspired by one of the most evil regimes in modern history. Yes, the designs of both the Sith Lord and the entire Imperial Army were heavily influenced by Hitler’s Germany. In particular, the motorcycle helmets worn by the Nazis in World War II gave designers the idea for Vader’s mask. The villain’s cape, meanwhile, was derived from the dress uniform that Nazi officers used to wear during the same period.
31. He envisaged fighting Palpatine
During a visit to Mustafar, Vader actually had a vision of going over to the light side. In this apparent depiction of the future, the Sith Lord engages in a battle to the death with Palpatine. After defeating Palpatine, Vader then tracks down Obi-Wan Kenobi, takes off his helmet and pleads for Obi-Wan’s forgiveness for switching to the dark side.
30. He brought Midi-Chlorians to the Star Wars universe
While the Force in the first three Star Wars films had been entirely mystical, a sci-fi element crept into the long-awaited prequel. And Vader was the man responsible for that, as it is he who introduces the concept of midi-chlorians to viewers in The Phantom Menace. Midi-chlorians are intelligent life forms invisible to the naked eye that inhabit the cells of every living being.
29. He visited Padmé’s mausoleum
The death of Vader’s wife Padmé is arguably the driving force behind much of his behavior. And in the trading card series Star Wars Galaxy Series 7, we see one particular example of how her passing truly affects him. Indeed, in a rare display of vulnerability, the Sith Lord can be seen grieving over the late queen in the mausoleum in Naboo. This shows that – despite his villainous antics – he still has a heart.
28. He tried to save Padmé by getting promoted
Anakin regularly had visions of Padmé losing her life while giving birth and so does his utmost best to try and save her from such a fate. And the future Vader believes that various ancient holocrons stored in the Jedi archives hold the key. His chances of accessing these are lost, though, when he learns that he won’t be receiving a Jedi Master promotion despite having become part of the Jedi Council.
27. Some fans believe that he had an immaculate conception
In The Phantom Menace, we see Anakin Skywalker’s mother Shmi inform Qui-Gon Jinn that her son doesn’t have a dad and that she “can’t explain what happened” to bring about his birth. Some fans think, then, that this is proof that the man who would become Vader was actually the result of an immaculate conception – although it’s unclear whether the Force or another deity entirely would have been responsible.
26. The sound of his respirator comes from an unlikely source
The unnerving noise that emanates from Vader’s respirator is one of the most iconic – and indeed most menacing – sounds in the history of Hollywood cinema. But that terrifying heavy breathing actually comes from a not terribly sinister source. You see, it was created by modifying a recording of someone inhaling and exhaling via a scuba tank.
25. He has trouble sleeping
Of course, that same menacing sound is also responsible for keeping the villainous one wide awake at night. In the novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, it’s revealed that the titular character is having problems getting to sleep because of the sheer loudness of his breathing. This is also one case in which his supersonic hearing actually becomes a major disadvantage.
24. He can’t eat
Ever wondered how Vader manages to eat, what with that hefty mask and badly burned body to deal with? Well, he doesn’t, really. The Sith Lord initially gained all the nutrients he required though a vitapaste known as RepMed. The taste of RepMed was so awful, though, that Vader decided he’d rather resort to intravenous feeds inserted into his suit of armor instead.
23. He produces waste
Of course, all that RepMed still needed to go somewhere. So, when it comes to the question of whether Darth Vader produces waste, the answer is in the affirmative. In Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, we learn that the Sith Lord urinates via catheters and defecates in collection pouches. His suit of armor is also equipped with recyclers to save it constantly being cleaned.
22. He struggles to raise his arms
Vader’s suit may possess many impressive powers, but it isn’t exactly the most practical item to wear during day-to-day life. In fact, its restrictive design makes it incredibly difficult for the villain to raise his arms over his head, as seen in comic book Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. That’s why you’ll rarely witness him lift his lightsaber high in the air.
21. He could have received a suit upgrade
Of course, Vader could have avoided all the problems with his suit had he taken advantage of an upgrade once offered to him. That new outfit would have been both more comfortable and more technologically advanced. However, the Dark Lord feared that the disabling of his support system and removal of prostheses needed for the suit fitting would cost him his life, and so he opted for maintenance to his existing one instead.
20. He doesn’t always hold the Empire’s values
On the whole, the Empire wishes the universe to be faith-free, clinical and controlled. However, Vader’s dedication and emotional attachment to the Force goes against this general way of thinking. As a result, then, some of the Empire’s higher-ups feel that Vader has become out of touch – and they don’t respect him in the way that the Sith Lord would probably like, either.
19. He killed several young Jedi while his wife was pregnant
The massacre of Order 66 is unarguably one of Vader’s most heinous crimes. But the act of killing so many young Jedi trainees in one fell swoop is made even worse by the fact that he was a father-to-be at the time. Yes, wife Padmé – who had been completely unaware of her spouse’s villainous ways – was expecting twins when the massacre occurred.
18. His fall from grace originally stemmed from paranoia
Vader’s motive for becoming evil – essentially, to protect his family in the wake of his mother’s death – is generally accepted by most Star Wars fans. Originally, though, scriptwriters had planned for Anakin to switch to the dark side due to a belief that the government would be overthrown by the Jedi. Ironically, as Palpatine’s apprentice, Vader ended up as part of such a coup himself.
17. Luke has never beaten him in a fight
Although Luke survives both of his lightsaber battles with Vader, it’s been argued that the Jedi never really won either of these skirmishes. The much more skillful and even-tempered fighter has his hand severed in his first bout against Vader, after all, and then ultimately loses his father in the second. Vader even saves Luke’s life by rebelling against the Emperor upon learning that his son is in serious danger.
16. He tried to Force-choke Palpatine
In the first Darth Vader comic book, Vader attempts to Force-choke Palpatine following the death of wife Padmé. After utilizing his own powers, the Emperor then informs Vader that the only way he can survive is to turn to the dark side. And to make it clear that Vader should submit, Palpatine subsequently turns Force lightning on his apprentice.
15. He created his lightsaber on his return to Mustafar
Anakin was forced to create a new lightsaber after Obi-Wan Kenobi bested him on Mustafar. So, after killing a surviving Jedi from Order 66, Anakin steals his lightsaber’s kyber crystal and turns the crystal red by corrupting it on the planet. Mustafar itself turns out, of course, to be the ideal home for the Sith Lord.
14. His suit has advanced temperature controls
Vader’s suit may be packed with electrical parts, but it is nevertheless prevented from overheating through a state-of-the-art temperature control system. And this unit not only cools the Sith Lord by sensing both internal and external changes in heat, but it also warms him in colder environments. This explains why Vader can travel across Hoth wearing only his armor.
13. His mask is equipped with a head-up display
Vader’s mask features a head-up display (HUD), and this provides him with the vital information he needs to survive. Indeed, not only does the HUD register any other life forms close by, but it also gives Vader details about the environment’s air quality and temperature. And Vader can control what data he receives via a mechanism that reacts to movement in both his tongue and lips.
12. He defeated a clone of Darth Maul
In the “Resurrection” issue of Star Wars Tales 9, a Darth Maul clone is created by various prophets from the dark side in order to thwart Vader. And the Sith Lord initially appears as though he’s losing a battle against the clone when he cuts the doppelganger’s lightsaber in half, essentially providing his adversary with two individual blades. But after being disarmed, Vader somehow finds the strength to salvage his sword and strike a fatal blow.
11. He lost Princess Leia her Senate position
Following the events of Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia wins a seat on the Galactic Senate. But she’s soon ousted when news about who her father is becomes public knowledge. Her connection to Vader is revealed when Carise Sindian, an agent of the First Order, unveils a recording of Leia’s adoptive father, Bail Organa, discussing her true heritage.
10. He had to undergo a name change in Italy
Darth Vader’s name may be known across the world, but in Italy he actually goes by a completely different moniker. Why? Well, “Vader” in the Italian language is a little too close to the word for “toilet bowl.” In a bid to avoid the franchise’s most fearsome character being associated with such an object, then, Vader was dubbed “Lord Fener” in the European country.
9. Luke was originally supposed to become the new Vader
George Lucas initially suggested that Return of the Jedi should conclude in a much darker way. Specifically, the director still wanted the battle between Luke and Vader to unfold as it does in the finished film; after that, though, he had intended for Luke to take Vader’s mask and switch to the dark side himself.
8. Darth Plagueis envisaged Anakin becoming Vader
In the Legends novel series, it’s revealed that Darth Plagueis envisaged a black-clad cyborg emerging from a table. This could feasibly be interpreted, then, as Vader coming into being during the finale of Revenge of the Sith. That’s not all, though: Plagueis also sensed that Vader would become an instrumental figure in the Sith’s future, with this vision ultimately keeping Anakin alive. And Plagueis’ sixth sense arguably helped pave the way for Anakin to become Vader, too.
7. His suit must be recharged
The main reason that Vader enters his meditation chamber is so that his suit of armor can be recharged. This is achieved by linking up a fusion furnace to his central computer unit via a series of access ports situated on the chest box. Vader can only survive a few weeks without any recharging, although he does possess some emergency backup power cells.
6. He’s helped by evil androids
Who knew that evil androids even existed? But in the Marvel Darth Vader comic book series, we learn that alternate versions of R2D2 and C-3PO both help Vader in his quest to track down his son. BT-1 is essentially the assassin answer to R2, while 0-0-0 is the torture-prone version of C-3PO.
5. He never said a much-quoted line
“Luke, I am your father” is undoubtedly one of the most quoted lines of the Star Wars franchise. But it turns out that, when uttering those words, fans are misremembering just exactly what Vader said to his son. You see, the Sith Lord actually told Luke, “No, I am your father.”
4. He has tiny needles in his helmet
Vader essentially needs a particular form of acupuncture just to go about his daily business. That’s right: his helmet isn’t just to aid breathing, since it also features a whole host of extremely small needles that help transmit signals from Vader’s brain cells to the rest of his severely injured body. Vader therefore goes through pain every time he makes a simple move.
3. His shoes have magnets
But it isn’t only Vader’s iconic mask and suit of armor that are equipped with controls that allow him to survive and function; even his footwear has its very own special features. In particular, the Sith Lord’s array of shoes contain magnets, thus enabling him to walk to wherever he’s causing chaos without falling over.
2. His name didn’t always have a double meaning
“Darth Vader” is often loosely translated as “Dark Father” in German. So were German speakers privy to a spoiler before they’d even watched a single Star Wars scene? In short, not really, as apparently Vader’s name wasn’t intended to represent the relationship between himself and Luke. In fact, in the initial A New Hope script, Vader didn’t have any other relatives in the story at all.
1. He owns a Coruscant fortress retreat
It’s not known whether Vader ever lived there or even used it at all. But according to Legends novels such as Vision of the Future and Before the Storm, he did own a fortress retreat on the planet of Coruscant. The building was eventually destroyed when Coruscant was freed by the New Republic.