Since A new hopeDarth Vader has become the focal point of the star wars saga. The awe-inspiring Vader beams through his gigantic stance, deep voice, and blazing red lightsaber is what every fan expects to see in every star wars project. This is why even after his disappearance in Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader has appeared in every franchise project since, even comic books and video games. His presence in the franchise has reached a level where no franchise story can be completed without Vader’s presence.
But then, Darth Vader doesn’t just deserve an appearance here and there, especially when it’s well known that he’s “the chosen one.” After all, his abilities supersede those of a planet destroyer. However, Vader had never reached this pivotal point in the franchise before. Consequently, his actual character arc was somewhat incomplete, even after eleven films and several animated and live-action television productions.
In the original trilogy, Vader’s character arc was more prominent, given that he embarked on a path of redemption while at odds with his son, Luke Skywalker. But since Luke (Mark Hamill) was the leader and “Hope” mark of the Jedi, he took center stage. In the George Lucas prequel films, Jake Lloyd and then Hayden Christensen reprized the role of Anakin Skywalker. Along with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Anakin played a pivotal role in the franchise, leading to his eventual transformation into Vader. Other than these two trilogies, Vader has only appeared in cameo appearances, with James Earl Jones returning to voice him.
This void has been filled Obi Wan Kenobi on Disney+. The series, which takes place ten years after Revenge of the Sith, brought Obi-Wan and Darth Vader back for a showdown, mostly focusing on their relationship and the idea of Anakin becoming a Sith. Such a story centered around a personal battle ultimately allowed Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader to complete his tragic and thrilling arc and become what George Lucas had probably always wanted for this character.
We dive into the areas that completed Vader’s character and brought his story full circle.
A “ten-year-old Vader”: a striking conflict of emotions
In the series, it’s been ten years since the Republic fell and Palpatine’s Empire took over. After Obi-Wan left Anakin, thinking he would die in the fire, Palpatine rescued him, fitted him with a bulletproof vest, prosthetics, and a voice modulator, and named Lord Vader. The lie about Padme’s death eventually fueled his rage and shifted to the dark side.
Although Anakin became Vader, it hasn’t been long since he switched sides. And that’s how the show begins to bridge the gap between these two clashing personalities. Between the fearful Anakin, who failed to find balance in the Force, and a ruthless Sith who is strong with the dark side – there is this man, a different version of the character, who has not forgotten his past life and is driven by furious, vengeful, and struggling to find his way.
Throughout the show, Anakin pushes his Inquisitors to eliminate the Jedi to bring in Obi-Wan. He’s still not perfect with the dark side. Although his rage fuels his insurmountable power, his thirst for revenge takes him away from his greatest goals as a Sith, which is to conquer the galaxy and eradicate the Republic’s mode of order.
His internal conflict with his two personalities makes him vulnerable and his mind somehow less powerful. It is the first step in Anakin and Darth Vader’s connection, which leads to the completion of his character arc.
The power of the dark side
Although Vader faces a conflict between his duties as a Sith, there is nothing good left for him. Obi Wan Ken gave Vader a chance to show off the true powers of the dark side. The sequences where he pulls Obi-Wan and drags him into the fire or the one where he brings down an entire spaceship through the use of the Force were breathtaking. For the first time, a star wars The story showed what it really means to be on the dark side and how Vader’s powers extend beyond his lightsaber.
We saw Vader in A thug take on an entire squad of republic troopers or choke Orson Krennic nearly to death with two fingers. But that’s when Vader was at his peak as a Sith. In Obi Wan, the scenario is different. This is the first time (since The Clone Wars) that Vader launches into an all-out assault, using every ounce of power within him to tear his foes apart.
The idea of this gigantic character terrifying everyone around him brings his antagonistic attributes out into the open, making him a true villain. And Obi Wan Kenobi brings this truth to life on screen, giving viewers a thrilling experience.
Battle for Revenge: The Mask Opens
The most iconic moment in the series has to be the final lightsaber duel between Vader and Obi-Wan. The series has always been a drum roll until this moment when the master and his Padawan continue their fight which ended in a stalemate. As the duel was incredibly choreographed and shot to make it seem like each warrior’s limits and mental state were being tested. The sequence features Vader at the height of his anger, as Obi-Wan battles his friend while going through a visible emotional breakdown.
In a final blow, Obi-Wan manages to defeat Vader and splits his face mask open. Then comes one of the most heartbreaking and terrifying moments in the series. We see half of Vader’s mask, as well as half of Anakin’s disfigured face. Obi-Wan looks at him and remembers his friend, but then, with a heartbreaking crack in his voice, Vader says:
Anakin is gone. I am what remains now.
For the first time, we see Vader speaking in his own voice. His vocal cords are clearly damaged and he has trouble speaking, which will send everything star wars ventilator in pain. But then this scene completes his transformation into Vader for good in a fashionable way.
In Revenge of the Sith, in an equally cracking voice, Anakin expresses his hatred towards Obi-Wan. When Obi-Wan sees his friend through that mask, there’s this unseen realization for a brief moment that Tatooine’s child may still be in there. Obi-Wan, who held himself responsible for Anakin’s fate, apologizes to his friend. However, Anakin, at the same time, responds,
I am not your failed Obi-Wan. You didn’t kill Anakin Skywalker. I did it.
And a cunning smile is then visible in his expressions. By saying this, he relieves his former master of his grief and guilt and becomes Vader in a true sense, revealing that the presence of darkness has always been there within him.
The scene becomes more emotional as this mixture of James Earl Jones and Hayden Christensen is in this dialogue. At this point, this symbolism indicates the presence of two people inside Vader. It’s only after this scene, at the end, that Anakin abandons his quest to hunt Obi-Wan, surrenders to his Master Palpatine, and lets go of Anakin Skywalker’s last shreds of his soul. This is how the series ultimately connects the dots between the prequels and the original trilogy, completing the character’s arc throughout his progression from Anakin to Lord Darth Vader.
Relationship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Vader
The series also does justice to Vader’s relationship with Kenobi. After the duel, Kenobi, unable to kill him, leaves Vader to fend for himself. Later, he decides to take care of Luke again, giving up on the idea of training him the Jedi way for now.
Whereas in Revenge of the SithObi-Wan leaves Anakin, believing he will succumb to his wounds, the climax of this film did not justify the pain he would have suffered after apparently killing his brother-in-arms. Obi Wan fill in this information.
When Vader somewhat exonerates Obi-Wan for his failure as a Jedi master, there’s that sense of completeness in that relationship. This is how Obi-Wan became convinced that Anakin is “really gone”. This realization motivates him to push Luke into a battle with his father years later.
In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan’s Force ghost repeats that Anakin Skywalker was dead and Vader has taken his place. This scene becomes more compelling with the series, as we now know what led Obi-Wan to such a conclusion, where he didn’t hesitate to pit a son against his father.
Hayden Christensen is Darth Vader
The idea of Darth Vader has never been associated with a single person other than the voice of James Earl Jones who makes the character’s anger a reality. Several actors and performers have stepped into this costume. But, Disney’s call to bring Christensen back to the role finally put a nail in that coffin. Hayden Christensen is Darth Vader.
Not only did Christensen outdo himself in the role, but he also took full advantage of the opportunity he had by trying out the part without that voice-changing mask. While watching through Christensen’s eyes in the dueling sequence, any viewer will realize how important it is to finally have an identity for the character of Darth Vader.
And since Christensen already played Anakin in the prequels, watching him also don Vader’s costume kind of helped round out the character’s progression from those movies to this point. Knowing that it’s the same person playing the role fosters a sense of good and acceptable continuation of the Darth Vader character, which viewers of this shared universe will definitely align with.
Obi Wan Kenobi was a highlight for the character of Ewan McGregor and his journey to becoming one with the Force. However, the show significantly gave Darth Vader the emotional journey his character deserved. The show means Anakin’s journey to the dark side was unsettling and it took years of heartache, pain and guilt to get over what he went through in Mustafar. The series shows how Vader struggles with his powers and emotions, to the point where he learns to control them and becomes a feared figure to the entire galaxy. It’s like connecting Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen and James Earl Jones, making all these performances one and coming full circle to the whole story.