Easily the most memorable (and according to George Lucas himself, the most profitable) character in the franchise, Darth Vader is pretty much the face of Star Wars. His breathing, his mask, his voice, the fact that he’s a giant, muscled android man with questionable parenting skills, everything about him is memorable. Fans and scholars have poured over every bit of Star Wars media, both canon and not, to analyze this character. There’s something about his mystique that pulls everyone in. If he can choke people with his mind, why does he manually strangle that one rebel soldier? What purpose does a cape serve in space (this question also points at you, Lando?) With all of these questions, it feels like we have just scratched the surface of that shiny black helmet.
Well, I’m here to help you dig a little deeper into the crispy, war criminal underneath. I’m here to let you know that, despite being a huge Star Wars and Vader fan, you haven’t seen anything yet. You see, with a still running comic book series, behind the scenes drama with directors or actors, as well as countless tie-in shows, Darth Vader has more to know about him than ever before. So while a lot of you may have had some passing knowledge about some of the stuff on this list, I’ll bet my last Galactic Credit that at least one of these facts about Darth Vader flew totally under your radar. Facts these small may have come with a cloaking device.
26. Now I Need To Scrub My Eyes And Brain
During the research I was doing for this article (I tried working off memory but 25 facts is a lot, you guys) I came across some really gross and weird facts about Darth Vader that I neither knew, nor ever wanted to know. The fact that he eats bitter paste is something I could have died not knowing and been fine with. Another tasty little morsel of trivia that I came across was that Vader’s original recipe skin regularly dies while inside the suit, due to not healing properly. This results in Vader needing to be regularly scrubbed down like the underside of a boat, in order to get off all of the necrotic flesh. So yeah, every time you see Vader in the movies, he’s more than likely a walking metal man filled with rotten meat. Who knew that Star Wars was a horror franchise? Thanks for reading that!
25. Family Ties
When we are thrust into the action of The Empire Strikes Back the film treats it as though Darth Vader is fully aware of Luke Skywalker’s presence. While this usually got explained away as some sort of connection to The Force, the recent run of comic books takes it a step further to fully flesh out how this happened.
Some time between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader hires everyone’s favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett to track down the pilot responsible for the destruction of the Death Star. Remember, Vader even sensed during the trench run that Luke was incredibly sensitive to the force. So after a skirmish between Boba and Luke, Fett returns to Vader with only the last name. And with that single word, Vader became fully aware that he had been lied to all this time. Things really started heating up from there.
24. He Can Hear Your Lack Of Faith
This was easily the most bizarre bit of trivia I came across about the Dark Lord of the Sith because I don’t know who thought to include it, or even what kind of nerd would research it (wait, am I that nerd now?) So we’ve covered how the Darth Vader’s suit has all sort of fun little gizmos to keep him at the top of his game, but apparently being super strong and able to kill people with your mind isn’t enough. No, apparently the helmet that Darth wears also allows him to hear up to a range of 40kHz, which is about double the normal range humans can hear. His helmet also allows him to see infrared and ultraviolet, meaning that there is never a scenario in which he cannot see. All this for someone who can already sense everything around him via The Force, which seems a little like overkill at this point.
23. You Were Wrong About Me
One of my favorite scenes, despite it not being the most well received episode of the franchise, was when Luke removes Vader’s helmet in Return of the Jedi. Underneath all that brawn and durasteel was a sad, broken old man, the kind of guy who looks like he needs your bus seat, And all he wants is to look on his son with his organic eyes one time before he dies. It’s touching, and it shows that Vader always wanted more than to be a villainous man in a suit.
So as you can probably guess, David Prowse wasn’t in on this scene either. Apparently, he had every intention of being there under the helmet, but when filming actually started with Sebastian Shaw being the actor behind the visage, Prowse was busy elsewhere. He wouldn’t have even been made aware until filming wrapped unless a crew member had told him that they were filming a Vader scene without him at another location.
22. No Rest For The Wicked
Even though Vader does get some escape from his restrictive mask inside the meditation chamber, it isn’t a sustainable solution. The pressurization doesn’t last forever, and if exposed for too long, Vader will literally die from falling apart. It makes sense, he survived through injuries which would kill most people, so if you are going to walk away from that kind of thing, there is going to be consequences.
The thing is, Vader noticed that he was able to stay out of his mask longer and longer in side the chamber the more he exposed himself to it. His end goal was to ultimately free himself from the suit, if not only the mask at first. Darth Vader’s plan (he actually had a few going at a time, unbeknownst to the Emperor) was to finally shed the restrictive shell that had kept him hindered for so long. Interesting knowledge, considering he shows none of this during any of the movies.
So protected was the secret of Luke Skywalker’s secret parentage that George Lucas went to insane length to throw people off the trail. What more lengths could a one go to, when only three people know the twist in the first place? You make an entirely fake script with a fake plot twist, that’s what any sane director and writer would do.
So since David Prowse was going to be overdubbed by James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader anyways, what they had Prowse do was read a fake line. That way everyone on set who heard the line could only leak false information. And it wasn’t like the fake line wasn’t a doozy of a mind-blower in itself. The line called for Darth Vader to reveal to Luke that none other than Obi-Wan Kenobi had killed Luke’s father. That’s an awesome twist, and I like to believe that there is an alternate universe out there that went in that direction instead.
20. And You All Blamed The Continuity
Admittedly, one of the stupidest additions of the prequels (and there are so, so many) was making C-3Po, the bumbling and stodgy droid of the original trilogy, a product of Anakin Skywalker’s tinkering. Not only does this serve to make the universe that much smaller, since the same circle of people keep knowing and creating each other, but it made a huge plot hole in the film. Why would Vader never recognize C-3Po during all his altercations with the rebels?
The answer is fairly simple: he did. In the new Vader comics, we see that Vader is fully aware that the droid was blasted to smithereens, and actually has a tender moment of sadness about how far he has fallen from when he was an innocent little boy. But in true Vader fashion, he squashes those feelings down so he can better focus on the task at hand, which is freezing a human being in carbonite before beating his son within an inch of his life. He’s still Darth Vader, after all.
19. Hate Leads To Suffering
There is so much wacky nonsense going on with Vader’s suit that I could write a whole article just on it alone. Between the fans and the extended universe, there is a genuine science behind the mechanism which keeps Vader alive and powerful. Some of these facts are cute, but most of them are horrifying.
For example, the way the suit takes readings on Vader’s biological data is with a series of sharp needles piercing his skin. The data is transmitted to the suit, which adjusts things like temperature and movement according to what his organic body needs. All of this sounds well and good for someone who lost most of the body in a fight, until you realize that the needles are causing constant pain, too. Fans debate over whether the needles being painful are a deliberate inclusion on the Emperor’s part, to keep Vader in perpetual fury, or whether that is the only technology available at the time.
18. The Taste Of Defeat
Anyone who was a huge Star Wars fan growing up had someone in their friends circle, or more likely an unfunny dad, who would ask the same old questions: “How does Darth Vader eat?” This is something I wouldn’t normally devote more than a few seconds to, since films hardly show people eating, even if they aren’t mostly made of evil alchemy and vengeance. Nobody asks what Captain Kirk eats, and that dude is almost never shown consuming anything other than alien women.
Luckily, there’s always a nerdy answer to an equally nerdy question. Vader is only able to eat concentrated food paste, since being burned and hacked up has left his digestive track something of a mess. Unfortunately, the paste that is made available to him is almost inedible it tastes so bitter and bad (again, it is unclear if Palpatine has done this on purpose.) Therefore, Vader chooses to take what little nourishment he needs via injections, which can be woven straight into his suit and refuelled.
17. The Tragedy Of Darth Vader
There’s no denying that Darth Vader is something of a pitiable character. As Anakin, he was swept up in a scheme far bigger than himself, while also struggling with his complex and powerful emotions. There’s also the fact that he was vastly more powerful than any of his teachers, who did nothing to alleviate his intense emotional strife. Then, he loses his limbs, fights his kids and gets the living heck zapped out of him. So his life has not been exactly a holiday in the sun. But it gets worse.
See, Anakin has always hated tight spaces, and is fairly prone to claustrophobia. So when he is forced to stay inside a tight metal sarcophagus just to stay alive, it’s pretty tortuous. His only reprieve is when he is either in a Bacta container, as we saw in Rogue One or his infamous meditation chamber, which is pressurized to better keep his body from falling apart. No wonder he always seems so infuriated whenever a hapless General interrupts his alone time.
16. An Old Recipe
We all know that Darth Vader’s suit was built onto him after his forced amputation and incineration on Mustafar. What most people don’t know is that Emperor Palpatine base much of Vader’s design off of old Sith armor and magic. In the days of The Old Republic, the Sith were known for wearing huge, ostentatious armor meant to strike fear into the hearts of their foes. Using some of these old schematics, coupled with relics and enchantments, made Vader’s armor more than just a life support system, it made him a legitimate weapon. It’s always important to remember that Star Wars isn’t a franchise based in hard science fiction, but is actually more something of a fantasy, since many facets of it are dependant on magic. Magic that we now know is coursing through Darth Vader’s mechanical veins. It’s also worth noting Emperor Palpatine’s devotion to the traditions and lifestyle of the Sith, something that goes vastly underdeveloped in the movies.
15. What’s Glove Got To Do With It?
If we were to think back to the fateful moment when Obi-Wan announced his superior and higher ground, we would remember Anakin wrongly assuming his own power levels before being significantly reduced in height. The more eagle eyed viewers will note that Anakin was still graced with one remaining robotic hand, though, which was very kind of Obi-Wan. Even later, when Vader is being rebuilt, we notice he still has his robot hand. This is a hand that was given to him after he lost it in his fight against Count Dooku, and that Anakin has been tinkering with and improving for years between the movies.
Palpatine actually let Anakin keep this hand underneath the outer layer of Vader’s armor, and in fact actually augmented it. Not only was Mandalorian metals added to it to make it more resistant to blaster fire, but it was also given an old Sith amulet that was indestructible. This makes Vader’s right hand in many ways superior to his left, a fact we see him utilize when he simply absorbs with his palm the blaster shots Han Solo fires at him on Bespin.
14. Holds Up More Than Pants
Darth Vader is far from indestructible. We see this when Luke hits Vader’s shoulder when they fight on Bespin, when Ahsoka slices off part of his mask and when Luke chops off his hand during their final confrontation. We have to assume that during his long career, these aren’t the only wounds he has had to recover from. But while you and I can go put on a bandaid or a stitch, Vader is more machine than man now, so he’s going to need something a little different.
Enter Vader’s cool but functional belt. Hidden behind the belt buckle are a plethora of things he may need on the fly, like spare power cells for his suit, as well as tools he can use to patch himself, and the suit, up. It’s kind of cute to picture Darth Vader carrying around what is essentially a high tech fanny pack in case he ever got hurt.
13. Capes Are Still Cool
That’s a weird image, right? I wasn’t just going to start this entry without addressing how weird it is to see Darth Vader sans cape. But that picture exists, and it isn’t a cosplay. In fact, Vader being able to remove the cape was an idea that was tossed around quite a bit during filming, so it’s kind of surprising there are so little picture of a capeless Vader.
Or are there? You see, if you go back and watch The Empire Strikes Back and focus really hard during the scenes where Vader is interrupted from his meditation chamber, you’ll notice the cape is off there as well. I’ll bet that Darth takes that thing off whenever he wants to relax. I mean, as cool as capes are, they aren’t the kind of clothes that hold any kind of practicality indoors. Heck, I’m not even sure how much practicality they have on a spaceship in general.
12. Sticky And Stylish
Darth Vader made some pretty sweet appearances in Season Two of Star Wars Rebels. The most gripping was when he showed up out of the blue, standing atop his TIE Fighter Advanced X1 like he was posing for a heavy metal album. His cape was swirling majestically, the spotlight was directly on him, everything was perfect. And that was all thanks to his handy, dandy boots.
Magnetic clamps are a piece of technology in the Star Wars universe used commonly by ships grabbing on to other ships. Darth Vader has this incredibly useful piece of technology in his boots, allowing him to grip the surface of starships from the outside. We see this used in Rebels but also during multiple scenes in Vader’s comic book run, like his assault on Cylo’s base. At this point, I’m next to certain that the suit is doing most of the work for Vader, so I think we know who the true villain here is.
11. Rule The Galaxy As Father And Son
After learning through Boba Fett that Padme had indeed given birth before she died, Darth Vader was no longer the loyal lapdog of Emperor Palpatine. While carrying out order on the surface, his machinations began deep down, where he planned to destroy the Emperor and unite with his long, lost son. Then, they would be the ruling Force wielders in the galaxy, and could unite the Empire with the Rebellion. Darth Vader just needed to bide his time, since the Emperor was too strong for either Luke or himself to take on alone. While his motivations aren’t exactly saintly, it is comforting to know that as evil as Vader was, he still hated someone as evil as Palpatine, and totally intended to kill him, and bring peace to the galaxy. He just didn’t go about it the healthiest way, like cutting off his son’s hand or whatever. Give him a break, nobody’s perfect.
10. Cannot Be Replaced
Emperor Palpatine is a lot of things, but he is no fool. He orchestrated an entire war just so he could be seated as the most powerful man in the galaxy, he’s actually a pretty smart dude. The only thing he ever didn’t account for was Ewoks, and that isn’t really his fault, who can account for Ewoks? Anyways, he totally knew how miffed Vader was at him, so he started to plan accordingly.
Palpatine started to secretly assemble prospective replacements for Vader, led by a man named Cylo. After learning of these potential replacements, Vader went about framing them as traitors of the Empire, so as to discredit them. There was even a scene where Cylo disabled Vader’s armor, rendering him useless. At that point, Darth Vader focused on the point that made him the most angry, the Death of Padme, and he manually restarted his armor with the sheer force of his will. Suffice to say, do not mess with Vader.
9. No Spoilers
Spoilers, despite being scientifically proven to make you enjoy something more, are one of the most hated things on the internet. When the twist is ruined, we feel like we have been robbed of the shock that actual audience members must have felt when that bomb was dropped on them. George Lucas felt the same way way back around 1980 when they were filming The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas felt that the impact of the reveal needed to preserved so well, he didn’t tell most of the cast and crew what was going to go down. According to sources on set, only George Lucas, Irvin Kershner and Mark Hamill knew the actual reveal, that way nobody could leak it. The director, Kershner, even told Hamill that he was explicitly not to tell anyone else, not even his co-stars Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Now that is a really well kept secret, something they seem to be keeping alive and well leading up to the release of The Last Jedi.
8. Off The Record
Here’s a question I didn’t even know I needed answering: why does nobody wonder what happened to Anakin Skywalker? As far as anyone is concerned, Anakin Skywalker just sort of stopped existing, and some sweet metal dude named Darth Vader just showed up out of nowhere and started bossing people around. There has to be more than a few raised eyebrows around the Imperial Academy, right?
As far as official record within the Empire is concerned, Anakin Skywalker was one of many of the Jedi killed at the Jedi Temple once Chancellor Palpatine executed Order 66. This is a handy way to wipe out Darth Vader’s past, and any emotional connections he may have that could compromise his loyalty. This does still leave the question of where everyone thinks Vader came from as open ended, but honestly, all the best bad guys have zero backstory. It adds to their sense of mystery, something I think George Lucas forgot.
7. They Don’t Call Him Grand For Nothing
Since his transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader, he has little to no interactions with people from his previous life. The moment he meets Obi-Wan, he cuts him into nothingness, and by the time he sees his old friend C-3PO, he is already in pieces. So hardly anyone is around to put the pieces together of who may be under that imposing mask.
Except Grand Moff Tarkin, who totally puts the pieces together, by the way. They served together during the Clone Wars as seen in the television show of the same name. Since they worked fairly closely together on the Death Star after the resolution of the Clone conflict, it was only a matter of time before Tarkin noticed some of Vader’s mannerisms and noticed a similarity. Luckily, Tarkin is almost as robotic as Vader, and does not let this new revelation come into conflict with the Empire’s goals.
6. It’s A Tie
There are a lot of records to be held by Star Wars. Doing the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, most missed shots by a stormtrooper. What’s the weirdest record you can think of that would be held by Darth Vader? Most Alderaans blown up? That title technically belongs to Grand Moff Tarkin. But if you guessed most limbs lost in a franchise, you are both a winner and a worrisome individual. And you are also only half right. He’s tied.
Apparently, if you are the kind of person who pours over old movies and counts how many limbs each person gets emancipated from during said series, you’d notice the none other than C-3PO has an actual tie with Darth Vader for most limbs lost. I’m not going to give you a full recount of how and when each person lost an appendage, but if you do some quick mental math, you’ll see I’m right.
5. A Presence More Felt Than Seen
Vader first came on the scene literally kicking in the door to a cruiser, walking over the corpses of both his allies and enemies. It’s a pretty cool way to let you know that this is someone you need to be afraid of. So with such a looming threat over the whole galaxy, how much screen time would you say tall, dark and shiny had in the original A New Hope?
Whatever you guess, unless you already knew the answer, it was probably a lot larger than twelve minutes. Yeah, DV only had a dozen minutes of screen time, yet he was considered the big bad throughout the film. That really is a testament to how well of a design the character, and his lines were. We knew that the rebels were deathly afraid of him, but he was barely seen, which is the sign of a true villain, like the shark in Jaws.
4. The Voice Of The Empire
James Earl Jones is probably known best for being the voice of Darth Vader (sorry Mufasa and Thulsa Doom.) He was imposing, deep, mysterious, calm when he needed to be, furious when he wasn’t. He was, in essence, the perfect voice to convey the rage filled, unfeeling creature that Anakin Skywalker had become inside that dreaded suit. His is a voice so synonymous with Vader that he has even come back to play the role multiple times, such as in the new animated show Star Wars Rebels and the massively successful Rogue One.
What would you say if I told you that he wasn’t the first choice for George Lucas? No, the director actually had his eye on Orson Welles at the time. There’s no doubt that Welles could have pulled it off, since he knocked it out of the park when voicing The Shadow, but would it have had the same nuance? Sadly, or maybe fortunately, we will never know, since Lucas ended up feeling that a voice as well know as Welles would have been distracting when in the role of Vader.
3. He’ll Have To Wait Outside
Bodybuilder David Prowse was the man to first don the armor for Darth Vader. Standing at an impressive 6’6″ without the suit on, and able to lift another human being with a single hand much like his Sith counterpart, Prowse is the person you picture when you imagine Darth Vader, whether you know it or not. Just don’t get your hopes up about seeing him don the suit ever again.
Unfortunately, Prowse has had some bit of animosity with George Lucas over the years, over artistic differences as well as some financial troubles. Due to this open feud with the franchise’s creator, Prowse has been banned from attending any Star Wars conventions. Any fans out there hoping to get a glimpse of him will have to wait for him to attend other nerdy conventions, like Comic Con or Fan Expo, which he regularly attends. So at least we all have that.
2. Kept Out Of The Loop
Depending on who you ask, either George Lucas totally had every intention of changing Vader’s voice in post, or he decided to change it after he realized that David Prowse’s West Country English accent wasn’t exactly the the commanding presence he needed. Whatever the case may be, Prowse was not in on the decision to change.
Prowse felt slighted and insulted that his tenor like voice was swapped out for the more bass like tones of Jones. He even went so far as to claim a sort of reverse racism was in place, and that his voice would have never been swapped out if it had not been for the lack of black actors in the original A New Hope. Sadly, this is a fly on the wall kind of situation, and only the people that were there know the truth.
1. An Imperial Title
Darth Vader kind of comes and goes as he please throughout the Star Wars films. He chokes multiple General’s to death, he leads the attack on Hoth on a whim, he is a part of the boarding party in Rogue One, there doesn’t really seem to be a job that people can tell him he isn’t suited for. What kind of ranking system do they have in The Empire?
It turns out that Darth Vader had a special title known as “Emissary of the Emperor” which granted him special privileges. Pretty much all privileges, actually. He could just show up wherever he wanted, assume control of the operation and nobody could say anything since he was essentially acting on behalf of The Emperor. As much grief and anger is in Vader’s life, he has to admit, those are some serious job perks. That and the sweet ship that is The Executor.
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