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Darth Vader
Star Wars character
Darth Vader.png
Darth Vader, as he appeared throughout the Star Wars franchise
First appearance Star Wars (1977)
Created by George Lucas
Portrayed by
Voiced by
Aliases The Chosen One
  • Slave
  • Padawan
  • Jedi Knight
  • Member of the Jedi High Council
  • Jedi General in the Grand Army of the Republic
  • Dark Lord of the Sith
  • Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Military
Family Shmi Skywalker (mother)
Spouse(s) Padmé Amidala (wife)
Children Luke Skywalker (son)
Leia Organa Solo (daughter)
Relatives Ben Solo (grandson)
Weapon Lightsaber
Homeworld Tatooine
Born 41 BBY
Died 4 ABY
Extended Family
  • Mara Jade Skywalker (daughter-in-law)
  • Ben Skywalker (grandson)
  • Jacen Solo (grandson)
  • Jaina Solo Fel (granddaughter)
  • Anakin Solo (grandson)
  • Allana "Amelia" Solo (great-granddaughter)
  • Jagged Fel (grandson-in-law)
  • Cade Skywalker (descendant)

Darth Vader is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe. He appears for the first time in A New Hope. Vader is the main character of the Dark Side of the Star Wars series. He appears as a 2 meter-tall man dressed in black armor and a cape. His face is covered with a mask, which has a helmet on top to hide the terrible third degree burns and scars on his face. He has borderline personality disorder.


George Lucas 1986 (cropped)
George Lucas, who created Vader's character

According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, he experimented with various combinations of names for the character built upon the phrase "Dark Water". He then "added lots of last names, Vaders and Wilsons and Smiths, and ... just came up with the combination of Darth and Vader". After the release of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lucas stated that the name Vader was based upon the German/Dutch-language word vater or vader ('father'), suggesting "Dark Father" and the character's relationship with original-trilogy protagonist Luke Skywalker. Other words which may have inspired the name are "death" and "invader".

As no other character with the title "Darth" was introduced until the release of The Phantom Menace (1999), some viewers interpreted it as the character's first name, in part because Obi-Wan Kenobi addresses him as "Darth" in the original film. The moniker is bestowed upon Anakin in Revenge of the Sith (2005) upon his turn to the dark side of the Force.

Director Ken Annakin's films Swiss Family Robinson and Battle of the Bulge influenced the original trilogy, leading some to believe that Anakin was named after him. Lucas' publicist denied this following Annakin's death in 2009. Anakin and Luke's original surname "Starkiller" remained in the script until a few months into filming Star Wars, when it was dropped due to what Lucas called "unpleasant connotations" with Charles Manson and replaced with "Skywalker".

In other countries

In France, the character's name was changed to "Dark Vador" starting with the original film. The names of other characters were changed too, but his is the only name that has been maintained even in the most recent films. The title "Dark" was used in place of "Darth" for the other Sith lords as well.

In the Italian-language editions, Darth Vader is named "Dart Fener". In 2005, before the release of Episode III, an online survey asked Italian fans whether they would rather maintain the Italian name or switch it to the original: the first option won. In 2015, when Episode VII had to be released, the Italian localisation decided to change the name to the English "Darth Vader".

In Iceland his name is "Svarthöfði" (which means "blackhead").


MAP Expo Casque XVI 06 01 2012
Ralph McQuarrie incorporated samurai armor into his conceptual designs for Vader's costume in 1975.

Vader was not initially conceived of as wearing a helmet. The idea that he should wear a breathing apparatus was first proposed by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie during preproduction discussions for Star Wars with Lucas in 1975. According to McQuarrie, Lucas directed him to portray a malevolent figure in a cape with samurai armor, stating, "George just said he would like to have a very tall, dark fluttering figure that had a spooky feeling like it came in on the wind." Because the script indicated that Vader would travel between spaceships and needed to survive in the vacuum of space, McQuarrie proposed that Vader should wear a space suit. Lucas agreed, and McQuarrie combined a full-face breathing mask with a samurai helmet, thus creating one of space-fantasy cinema's most iconic designs. McQuarrie's 1975 production painting of Vader engaged in a lightsaber duel with Deak Starkiller (a prototypical Luke Skywalker) depicts the former wearing black armor, a flowing cape and an elongated, skull-like mask and helmet. This initial design by McQuarrie was relatively close to Vader's final depiction.

Darth Vader designers
Brian Muir
Brian Muir

Working from McQuarrie's designs, costume designer John Mollo devised an outfit that could be worn by an actor onscreen using a combination of clerical robes, a motorcycle suit, a German military helmet and a military gas mask. The prop sculptor Brian Muir created the helmet and armor used in the film. Vader's chest plate includes Hebrew characters, some of which are upside down, and may constitute gibberish or jabber about redemption.

The sound of the respirator function of Vader's mask was created by Ben Burtt using modified recordings of scuba breathing apparatus used by divers. The sound effect is trademarked in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under Trademark #77419252 and is officially described in the documentation as "The sound of rhythmic mechanical human breathing created by breathing through a scuba tank regulator."

Commentators have often pointed to the influence of Akira Kurosawa's films such as The Hidden Fortress (1958) on George Lucas, and Vader's samurai-inspired costume design is held up as a significant example of the Japanese influences on Star Wars.

It has long been rumored that the warrior on the front cover of Wishbone Ash's 1972 album Argus was the main inspiration behind Darth Vader. Vocalist and guitarist Andy Powell acknowledged this rumor although he himself cannot confirm if it is true as he had nothing to do with the conception of the cover art.

Character history

Born as Anakin Skywalker, a slave on the desert planet Tatooine who became a Jedi. As an adult, he secretly marries Padmé Amidala. However, he is converted by Darth Sidious in order to save his wife from her coming death during childbirth. In order to do that, he learns the ways of the Dark Side of the Force and gives himself a new identity, Darth Vader. By doing this, he turned against his long-time friend and master Obi-Wan Kenobi. He battled Kenobi on the volcanic planet of Mustafar, but not before choking his wife with his Force Choke due to rage and misunderstanding. The battle ended in Kenobi's victory. Also, Skywalker's left arm and both his legs were cut off and his entire body was burnt. He survived and was rescued by the newly elected Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Darth Sidious, and have his body remade with cybernetic parts and his famous black armor and helmet. Anakin lost the last of his spirit once he learned that his wife died at his own hand. Thus Anakin Skywalker's transformation as Darth Vader was complete, much to Sidious's delight.

During the course of the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, Vader played an important role as the Empire's enforcer and the Emperor's second-in-command, particularly the building of the two Death Stars, the Battle of Yavin, and the Battle of Endor. It was during that period he learnt that he had a son named Luke Skywalker by Boba Fett, and later a daughter named Leia Organa during his final duel with his son.

Darth Vader died in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi during the Battle of Endor. His breathing system had been damaged by the Emperor's Force Lightning in an effort to save his son by throwing him at a power reactor. Thus, he redeemed himself and brought back balance to the Force and ended the civil war. His body and armor were cremated by Luke in Endor. However, his grandson Kylo Ren somehow receives Vader's burnt helmet in later time.


As Vader

David Prowse 2013 (cropped)
David Prowse physically portrayed Vader in the original film trilogy.

Darth Vader was portrayed by bodybuilder David Prowse in the original film trilogy, with fencer Bob Anderson performing the character's lightsaber fight scenes. George Lucas thought that the 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) Prowse "brought a physicality to Darth Vader that was essential for the character ... with an imposing stature and movement performance to match the intensity and undercurrent of Vader's presence."

Lucas chose to have a different actor be the voice of Vader, since Prowse had a strong West Country English accent that led the rest of the cast to nickname him "Darth Farmer". Lucas originally intended for Orson Welles to voice Vader, but after deciding that Welles's voice would be too recognizable, he cast the lesser-known James Earl Jones instead. Jones initially felt his contributions to the films were too small to warrant recognition and his role was uncredited at his request until the release of Return of the Jedi (1983). When Jones was specifically asked if he had supplied Vader's voice for Revenge of the Sith—either newly or from a previous recording—Jones answered, "You'd have to ask Lucas about that. I don't know." Hayden Christensen and Gene Bryant alternately portray Vader in Revenge of the Sith. During the production of Revenge of the Sith, Christensen asked Lucas if a special Vader suit could be constructed to fit his own body, rather than have a different actor don one of the original sets of Vader armor worn by Prowse. Brock Peters provided the voice of Darth Vader in the NPR/USC radio series. Both Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous portrayed Vader in Rogue One (2016), with Jones reprising his role as the character's voice.

James Earl Jones (8516667383)
James Earl Jones voiced Darth Vader for the character's portrayals in film and television.

Vader's character has also been portrayed in several video games; in games such as Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire and Dark Forces, visual effects artist C. Andrew Nelson appears in short sequences in the Vader costume, voiced by Scott Lawrence. Matt Sloan, who appeared in the YouTube parody Chad Vader, provided the voice of Darth Vader in The Force Unleashed. As a result of his video game appearances, Nelson was cast to appear as Vader in brief sequences inserted into the Special Edition of The Empire Strikes Back, in which Vader is seen boarding his shuttle.

In September 2022, it was confirmed that Jones would retire from voicing the character. His voice was digitally recreated by the company Respeecher for use in Obi-Wan Kenobi using artificial intelligence, and Jones later signed over the rights to his performance for future Star Wars productions.

As Anakin

Hayden-cfda2010-0004(1) (cropped)
Hayden Christensen portrayed Anakin Skywalker in the latter two episodes of the prequel trilogy and other minor film appearances. In 2022, he took over the portrayal of Vader as well.

During production of Return of the Jedi, the casting crew sought an experienced actor for the role of Anakin Skywalker since his death was unquestionably the emotional climax of the film, and Sebastian Shaw was selected for the role. When Shaw arrived at the set for filming, he ran into his friend Ian McDiarmid, the actor playing the Emperor. When McDiarmid asked him what he was doing there, Shaw responded, "I don't know, dear boy, I think it's something to do with science-fiction." His presence during the filming was kept secret from all but the minimum cast and crew, and Shaw was contractually obliged not to discuss any film secrets with anyone, even his family. The unmasking scene, directed by Richard Marquand, was filmed in one day and required only a few takes, with no alteration from the original dialogue. Lucas personally directed Shaw for his appearance in the final scene of the film, in which he plays Anakin's Force spirit. Shaw's likeness in this scene was replaced with that of Christensen in the 2004 DVD release. This attempt to tie the prequel and original trilogies together was one of the most controversial changes in a Star Wars re-release. Shaw received more fan mail and autograph requests from Return of the Jedi than he had for any role in the rest of his career. He later reflected that he enjoyed his experience on the film and expressed particular surprise that an action figure was made of his portrayal.

When The Phantom Menace was being produced, hundreds of actors were tested for the role of young Anakin before the producers settled on Jake Lloyd, who Lucas considered met his requirements of "a good actor, enthusiastic and very energetic". Producer Rick McCallum said that Lloyd was "smart, mischievous and loves anything mechanical—just like Anakin." During production of Attack of the Clones, casting director Robin Gurland reviewed about 1,500 other candidates for the role of the young Anakin before Lucas eventually selected Hayden Christensen for the role, reportedly because he and Natalie Portman (the actress who plays Padmé Amidala) "looked good together". When Revenge of the Sith was being produced, Christensen and Ewan McGregor began rehearsing their climactic lightsaber duel long before Lucas would shoot it. They trained extensively with stunt coordinator Nick Gillard to memorize and perform their duel together. As in the previous prequel film, McGregor and Christensen performed their own lightsaber fighting scenes without the use of stunt doubles.

Anakin has also been voiced by Mat Lucas for the 2003 micro-series Clone Wars, and by Matt Lanter in the CGI animated film The Clone Wars, the television series of the same name and for Anakin's small roles in the animated series Rebels and Forces of Destiny. James Earl Jones reprised the voice role for Vader's appearances in Rebels. Both Lanter and Jones contributed their voices for the second-season finale of Rebels, at times with identical dialogue spoken by both actors blended together in different ways.

Cultural Impact

Darth Vader is one of Star Wars' most iconic characters and regarded as the world's most well-known fictional villain. Highly ranked in popularity poll, Darth Vader is the image of evil, hatred who kills every one and thing he hates, rage and darkness but also a representation of redemption. He is well known by his black armor, cape, helmet, and particularly his raspy breath due to breathing problems received during a battle with his old master Obi-Wan Kenobi and deep, low-pitched voice from the mask, which often used in different medias as a reference to him.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Darth Vader para niños

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