Darth Vader is hands down one of the most iconic villains of all time. When it comes to ruthless displays of power and sheer intimidating presence, not many can hold a candle to the malevolent Sith Lord. You will struggle to find a character in all of pop culture that is as widely recognised and revered. He is the most profitable character in Star Wars, a property which in itself is the 5th highest-grossing media franchise of all time.
If you were to mention Star Wars to most people, Darth Vader would be the first character that would spring to their mind. And it’s not hard to see why fans love the character so much either, he’s a dark, tortured and complicated character with a lot of layers to him. And who doesn’t love a character with layers?
Since his first appearance in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), his story has been expanded in countless movies, tv shows and comic books. A story arc that went on to serve as the foundation for one of the richest fictional universes in nerd history. However, despite being widely known there is still a lot that the average fan wouldn’t know about Darth Vader. Here are 10 things you probably don’t know about Darth Vader…
1. His mask contained needles
When Darth Vader puts his mask on most would assume that it’s just a normal(ish) mask that fastens with some kind of pin-lock mechanism. While, this is how Vader’s mask fastens together there is a little more to it. His mask (and the rest of his suit) contains needles that poke into his skin, through his skull and spine in order to connect with his central nervous system. This binds Vader with his suit so the man and machine can become one.
As a result of this, Vader’s cybernetics had all the functionalities that his actual limbs had. Meaning, he can feel pain. This can be seen in Return Of The Jedi (1983) when Luke Skywalker cuts off Vader’s hand. Without this technology, Vader would have to use the force to move. Which was possible to do but could only be done for a limited amount of time due to the strain it had on him.
These connections were also used to regulate his body. Allowing diagnostics tests to be run every millisecond, making sure his vitals were at optimum levels at all times. If any irregularities were noticed the suit would take the proper measures to ensure homeostasis.
However, this process was flawed since it caused Vader a great deal of torment every time he put the suit on. On top of this, the cybernetic connections were imperfect and would often tear his living tissue. Every time this happened, Vader’s whole body would be filled with extreme pain. Of course, this wasn’t actually a design flaw since this is what the Emperor wanted. His intention was to keep Vader in a constant state of pain and rage. Ensuring any remnants of sanity left within his apprentice was nothing but a thing of the past.
2. He Was Fed Through A Tube In His Suit
Darth Vader loved his reputation as the evil dark lord, more machine than man, feared throughout the galaxy. To maintain this reputation he made people believe that he was invulnerable to human necessities such as eating and drinking. Adding to his legend and further cementing his god-like status amongst subordinates and enemies alike.
However, this was obviously not the truth. At his core Darth Vader was still human and just like any other human he needed to eat, drink and sleep in order to survive. He had a meditation chamber where the air was filtered and the environment was made safe for him. This allowed him to take his helmet of and eat normally. Still, it was very painful for him to swallow. This combined with the fact his teeth had decayed due to excessed clenching and grinding in his rage is the reason why most of the food consumed within his chamber was in liquid form.
Although, since Vader would often spend long periods of time away from his chamber this wasn’t enough. Because of this his suited was fitted with straws that led from his mask to an implanted bladder below his chest plate, filled with RepMed vita paste. This would usually be refilled during monthly maintenance or could be refilled on demand. The only problem here being vita paste’s extremely vile taste. A taste so vile Vader eventually ordered for an IV to implanted into his veins feeding him a potent, nutritious liquid-filled vitamins, minerals and macronutrients.
3. He tried to bring Padmé back to life
Vader had an intimate connection with the planet Mustafar for many reasons. One obvious reason is it being the true birthplace of Darth Vader. A place where he suffered a great deal of pain he can draw from making him stronger in the dark side. But aside from this Mustafar served as a nexus to the dark side of the force. This was due to events that occurred long before the creation of the empire. Mustafar was once a thriving planet filled with life.
That is until one day Mustafar came under attack and a woman named Lady Corvax lost her husband in battle to the hands of the sith. She vowed to bring her husband back, stopping at nothing to do so. She stole a sacred artefact known as the bright star crystal in hopes of resurrecting her husband. Of course, this didn’t work. This instead ended up trapping him between the world of the living and the afterlife. The powerful energies from the bright star then transformed the beautiful planet into the hellish planet we now know.
Darth Vader found out about this and was filled with hopes of resurrecting his beloved Padmé. Vader believed himself powerful enough to bring Padmé back to life using the Brightstar. The husband now known as the Black Bishop helped Vader in his efforts. He managed to acquire the Brightstar but it was later destroyed before they found success.
4. He Could Control Animals
It hasn’t seen very often in the movies but one of the force abilities available to force users is animal kinship. This can be seen during the battle of Geonosis when Anakin used the force to tame a rabid reek in the Petranaki arena.
5. He didn’t Like The Emperors Royal Guards
The imperial royal guards were the personal bodyguards, servants and assassins of Emperor Palpatine. They lived to serve The Emperor. Everything they did in their day to day lives revolved around this job. Primarily they would only carry out missions that were given to them directly by The Emperor. Despite this, they did recognise their place in the overarching imperial hierarchy. Meaning they would submit to those that outranked them but only if their commands do not interfere with the orders of their beloved emperor.
Of course, this birthed conflict between Darth Vader and the royal guards when they challenged Vader’s power in completing the orders of Palpatine. There were even a few occasions where the royal guards were ordered to spy on him and report back to the emperor all of Vader’s endeavours throughout the galaxy. The reason for this being that Palpatine wanted to make sure he always had the upper hand over Vader should he decide to overthrow the emperor. The red royal guards were always in close proximity to Vader to keep him from taking any actions towards destroying his master.
The guards were always a looming presence over Vader representing the watchful eye of his master. Even when he was in his bacta tank the guards were there. This meant they knew all of Vader’s secrets. Suffice to say Vader didn’t take kindly to this at all. Technically, the guards were placed there to protect Vader when he was at his weakest but they were also there to serve as a reminder that even during his most personal moments The Emperor was there watching. This served as a subtle threat to Vader letting him know he was never alone and that he couldn’t step out of line even for a second.
6. He Once Killed 5 Imperial Officers Just To Make A Point
During a raid, mercenaries attempted to kill Vader. When he interrogated the assassins, they told him the order came from the top. Leading him to suspect the emperor. Vader then confronted Palpatine who denied the accusation. Stating if he wanted him dead he wouldn’t have done it indirectly.
Determined to find the perpetrators, Vader began to meditate, connecting with the energy of the planet. He came across a conversation between two masked men. He then discovered that these men were imperial officers, as they discussed the attack voicing their lack of respect for Vader, scrutinising his rapid rise to power
Vader then informed The Emperor of his findings and demanded that all the imperial officers be brought before him. He felt it was time that he was officially introduced to his subordinates. The Emperor honoured his request gathering all the imperial officers in an enormous hall. The imperial officers stood there facing a raised platform where Vader and The Emperor stood there before them.
The Emperor began a speech proclaiming that this type of government was new to them. Telling them that he feels the hierarchy may be unclear to them. So, to eliminate any further confusion he introduced them to Darth Vader. Telling them that he speaks in the emperor’s name and they should obey his every word carefully.
Vader announced that two attempts had been made on his life. exclaiming any attempts to kill him will not be successful. He named 5 imperial officers telling them to step forward. Although he didn’t know who the actual traitors were, he wanted to prove it a point. He then clenched his fist choking all 5 imperial officers simultaneously killing them in cold blood for everyone in the room to see. Leaving them with no doubts about his position in the empire.
7. The original Darth Vader design and backstory were very different
From the very beginning, Darth Vader was always an integral part of the Star Wars script. However, the original design for Darth Vader was a far cry from the iconic dark lord that we know and love today. He was almost a completely different character. When concept artist Ralph Mcquarrie began working on the project, George Lucas had the character envisioned as a “Bedouin-like character” with a silk robe and a black veil. With the desert setting being such a prominent feature it makes sense that Lucas first suggested this.
The change first came about when they were planning a scene where Vader boarded one spaceship from another and they pondered the question, “How is he going to breathe out there in space”. Lucas loved the idea of “a big helmet like a Japanese warrior”. So McQuarrie incorporated this into the design and added a mask inspired by a Japanese mempo. The mask Samurais used to protect their face and strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. Vader was only going to wear this mask to allow him to breathe in this scene but Lucas fell in love with the idea. Lucas then made it a permanent part of Vader’s outfit and an essential part of his backstory.
Another massive change was his stature and physical appearance. McQuarrie once told Star Wars Insider that Vader was going to be “a little, hunched, evil, ratlike person”. However, due to what can now be seen as a very fortunate mistake, Vader was perceived to be much taller than he was intended to look in early concept art. This then stuck and became one of his defining features. This then led on to the casting of the gargantuan David Prowse as the man in the suit.
8. David Prowse Didn’t Know His Voice Would Be Replaced
When asked, who played Darth Vader? No doubt most people will think of James Earl Jones, but he only provided the voice. The man who actually wore the suit and did all the on-screen acting was bodybuilder David Prowse. Originally offered the role of Chewbacca, a role which he turned down instead opting for Vader.
At the time of filming no one expected George Lucas’ low budget passion project to take off as it did. So when it did everyone was ecstatic. That is everyone apart from David Prowse, who had no idea Lucas replaced his voice believing it not to be intimidating enough. Carrie Fisher nicknamed the Scottish Prowse “Darth Farmer” due to his farmer like accent (check out the video below).
This, of course, angered Prowse leaving him feeling betrayed and was the beginning of a lot of on-set hostility between the two. Still bitter with Lucas, Prowse reprised his role in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). However, knowing his lines would be cut anyway Prowse began to switch his lines. Uttering lines so absurd his co-stars would often burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter. This amongst other things Prowse did on set rubbed Lucas the wrong way only adding to tensions between them.
Lucas would avoid Prowse wherever possible. When the time came to film the infamous twist Lucas kept Prowse in the dark. Providing him with a fake script with the line “Obi-wan killed your father”. During the filming of the unmasking of Vader in Return Of The Jedi (1983) Prowse was completely left out. Although, Prowse did eventually find out. Leading him to speak ill of Lucas and his experience filming Star Wars. When surprise ending was leaked Prowse was blamed. Lucas cut all ties with Prowse and banned him from all authorised Star Wars events.
9. He Almost Returned To The Light Side
A few months after he first entered his suit Palpatine sent Vader to complete his transition into becoming a sith by obtaining a kyber crystal and bleeding it until it becomes red with rage. His quest took him to a surviving Jedi master named Kirak Infil’a. The Jedi did not go down easily but in the end, he wasn’t strong enough to take on the sith lord. Vader killed him and took his lightsaber.
He then travelled to Mustafar to begin the process. He removed the green crystal and begin using the force in an attempt to corrupt it but the crystal was fighting back. Vader tried with all his might to hold on but the crystal sent a shockwave of energy throwing Vader backwards slamming him into a rock.
Vader then had a vision. In this vision, his eyes went from yellow to blue as they once were. He was overcome with feelings of regret for everything he had done. He stood up, rebuilt the lightsaber and headed for Palpatine. Palpatine pleased of Vader’s arrival asked to see the blade. Vader ignited it showing the green blade letting Palpatine know that he had chosen the light side. He then lunged at Vader attempting to strike him. Vader cut him down leaving his corpse on the floor.
He then went to find Obi-Wan, who sensed him and drew his lightsaber then Vader dropped to his knees begging for forgiveness. Obi-Wan rose his lightsaber and paused in thought before turning it off. Suddenly his eyes turned yellow with anger as the dark side crept back in and Vader woke up. The crystal had been playing with his mind. Vader in a fit of rage then bent the crystal to his will and bled it, turning it red.
10. The Tusken Raiders Worshipped Him
Darth Vader was sent to Tatooine to meet with two bounty hunters who were tasked with capturing Luke Skywalker and bringing him to Vader. As he waited for them to complete their mission Vader’s boredom grew. He noticed a town of sand people nearby and was suddenly overcome by memories of anger and hatred. Reflecting on how they had tortured and killed his mother, his only family. Reminiscing on how he had slaughtered every single one of them seeking vengeance for the wrong they had done. A pivotal point within his story arc and the first time he truly succumbed to the dark side.
Reliving these memories left him feeling an uncontrollable urge to repeat history. So he went down to the village and did exactly what he did in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002). Slaughtering the whole village, women and children included. The only difference now was that he did it as Darth Vader, fully imbued with the dark side. In the aftermath, it is seen that once Tusken Raider had managed to survive. He ran to another village of sand people and told them of the events that had unfolded. He told them of how Vader had slaughtered his whole village leaving him as the sole survivor.
The tribe leader was captivated by this story. He ordered for his people to tie down the survivor and build a statue honouring the one who had brought this reign of terror on their people. In the last scene, the sand people are seen bowing and praying to the enormous statue. All while the sacrifice burned alive in commemoration of their new god.