Hello minions! Today, we have a post written by my husband. The only thing I wanna say about it is that I adore the original Vader but I think this is a really interesting thing to think about. So his words:
I’ve been thinking about Star Wars a lot lately, what with all the hype for Episode VII. There are a lot of people who are incredibly excited (and who could blame them; the trailers are AWESOME!), but there are also a lot of people who are afraid that it will be the prequels all over again. I’ve been thinking a lot about the prequels and how Anakin’s character development was inconsistent with the Vader we see in the original trilogy. It got me thinking, what would have happened if the movies had been made in chronological order and the scripts for IV, V, and VI changed accordingly? Because the Darth Vader we see in the original movies does not fit with the Darth Vader we see at the end of Episode III; they are not the same person. Who would the Episode III Vader become?
As Episode IV opens, one of the first thing we see Vader do is force choke a rebel. It’s something he does with impunity all throughout the original trilogy. It’s like he gets reward miles for every use and he’s trying to save up enough for a trip from Coruscant to the Outer Rim.
But what about the Vader we leave at the end of Episode III? Remember, he has used force choke precisely once, and as far as he knows he killed his wife because of it. Would that Vader ever use a force choke ever again? Perhaps he would, but surely there would be some sign of the tragedy he associates with it. Perhaps his hand would shake slightly as he raised it. Perhaps this would be followed by a moment of hesitation before he began choking someone.
What else would be different? In the original trilogy, we’re never given a reason why Vader works for Palpatine, other than that they’re both eeeeeeeevil -hissssssss-. But with the new Vader, we have a solid reason. Anakin Skywalker is a man who more than anything else values family and friendship, even if he doesn’t always know how to act accordingly. At the end of Episode III, Palpatine is the only “family” he has left. Of course he would cling to him.
But then what happens in Episode V when Vader finds out he has a son? I think Vader would be pissed at Palpatine. “You told me I killed my wife! She must have lived if I have a son!” Then Palpatine has to scramble to explain this away, to keep up his charade. “She did die because of the wounds you inflicted. How could I have known that she survived long enough to give birth?” With his silver tongue he would satisfy Vader, but the seed of doubt would be planted. Vader would immediately pour his every effort into finding Luke, not because he is a Rebel, or because he would be a valuable ally, but because he is his son. He has family again, he hasn’t lost Padme completely. As he has always done, he would do anything to be with his family and those he cares about.
So he storms the Rebel base at Hoth. When Luke slips away in the ensuing chaos, he hires bounty hunters to track the Millennium Falcon, as Han and Leia are the most likely to know where to find him. He threatens Cloud City, tortures Han, does anything to get his son back. And then Luke comes and Vader has a chance to finally meet him. And this son that he has gone to every length to find not only hates him but tries to kill him.
Vader tries to speak with Luke, tries not to fight him, but Luke gives him no choice. Vader chops Luke’s lightsaber hand off. He then tries to explain himself, but Luke yells that Obi-wan explained that Vader killed his father; then Luke refuses to believe that Vader is his father. Imagine the emotions that would be swirling inside the sith lord. Immense pain that his son, his only family, hates him. Rage that Obi-wan has stolen his family from him once again.
Luke escapes and once again Vader takes up searching for him. His sources hear about the disturbance at Jabba’s palace. The report details Luke’s involvement, including one fact that is terrifying to this particular father: Luke force choked one of the guards. Vader panics. His son is going down the same path of hatred and destruction as he did. And suddenly he realizes that maybe Obi-wan was not his enemy. Maybe Obi-wan was on his side, maybe he was just trying to help and Vader refused to understand and pushed him away. The seed of doubt grows.
And then the climactic final showdown with the Emperor ensues. Vader’s only “friend” turns on him immediately, telling Luke to kill his father and take his place. And Luke almost does.
So when he doesn’t kill him, Vader is filled with pride and relief, not that he isn’t dead, but that his son didn’t follow that path, that he resisted this snake for whose charms he himself had fallen. Palpatine turns his lightning on Luke, and Vader’s choice is clear. He sacrifices himself to save his son, the embodiment of the life he could have had. And as he lies dying he asks Luke to remove his helmet, to symbolically cleanse him of the influence of the Emperor, to see the son he loves with his own two eyes.
So, is this Vader better than the one that we got in Episodes IV, V, and VI? I don’t know, and I guess we never will. But it’s fun to think about, and doing these sorts of exercises can really help you to come to understand your villain, to get insider their head and make them real. So the next time you’re stuck with your villains, think about the Vader we could have had and see if that doesn’t help.