Kinda similar to my Yoda thread in the Beyond the OT forum, I’d like to share my viewpoint on something I kinda see OT purists maintain: this idea that Vader in the original trilogy is calm, and that his portrayal in new Star Wars media (Revenge of the Sith, the new Vader comics, Rogue One, etc.) as a very emotional man, full of rage and hatred, gets the character wrong. I think this is dead wrong, and I’m going to prove it, by using (mostly) strictly the OT itself too.
In short, Vader has always been portrayed as very emotional, mainly angry, all the way back to A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Let’s take a look at Vader’s actions in A New Hope.
In his literal first speaking scene, he angrily interrogates a rebel soldier while choking him and then furiously yells at the storm troopers to search the ship in a very harsh, not calm or collected at all manner.
Then in his second speaking scene, he once again yells, this time at Princess Leia, pointing at her and telling her that she’s a liar and a traitor.
This is his establishing scene in the OT and he is not calm, he is angry and yelling. I seriously don’t understand how OT purists came up with this idea that Vader being angry is out of character, when in legit his first two speaking scenes in all of Star Wars, he is enraged and emotional.
But it doesn’t stop there.
In his very next scene, he gets angry at an Imperial officer to the point where he’s about to choke him to death because he’s talking smack about him and the Force.
That’s not calm and collected. A cold (in the sense of “emotionless”, not cold-hearted) person wouldn’t care if someone’s insulting them or something they care about, because they have no emotions. They’re detached. They’d shrug it off like nothing. But not Vader. Does choking a guy sound detached to you?
Ok, so we’ve established that Vader is a hot-head in A New Hope, but what about Empire Strikes Back? Yep, still there too.
We see him literally kill a guy over a mistake in the second scene he’s in, because he’s angry at him. You can hear the way he says “last time Admiral”, he’s clearly irritated.
Rational, calm people don’t murder someone over a mistake. This is him giving into his rage, his hate. He’s sick of him messing up so he gets angry and kills him. That isn’t being cold. Cold means unemotional, like a dead corpse. Anger is an emotion. Dead corpses don’t get angry.
And this isn’t a one time occurrence. He does it again, too. And while it’s implied Ozzel was a fool who made many mistakes, Needa made ONE.
He also gets a little irritated with Lando constantly questioning him, and the way he watches Han get tortured up close seems to give me the vibes that he relishes in it, which could be because he knows he had a part in destroying the Death Star, and for all of the trouble he’s been giving him throughout the film.
He isn’t calm or collected during the duel with Luke, at least not the entire thing. In the last part of the duel he legit loses his shit and swings at him mercilessly. He appeared collected before because he goal isn’t to kill Luke. He’s purposefully collecting himself because he knows if he goes overboard he’s going to kill his son in a millisecond, and even then he was still dominating the fight and wearing him down. But Luke pisses him off, and the second he losses it, Luke losses his hand.
In the original version of ESB, he’s clearly angry over having lost Luke when he barks “Bring my Shuttle”.
In fact, the ironic thing is, the new line in the special editions is hammered upon (by myself included; it’s the only thing that bothers me about the special edition of ESB) because he sounds so calm and bored when saying it. I’m sorry, but last I checked, I thought according to OT purists, Vader is supposed to be a calm corpse? Shouldn’t you love this change, then?
Additionally, other characters refer to him as consumed by hate and rage: Yoda.
Yoda: “Anger, fear, aggression, the dark side of the Force are they… once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will! As it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”
I don’t know about you, but what I got from Yoda here is that Vader was consumed by ANGER, FEAR, and AGGRESSION.
Also another thing: Obi-Wan refers to Vader as “twisted and evil” in Return of the Jedi, and yet some people think that Anakin in Revenge of the Sith should be completely sane and calm and that when he becomes an enraged, unhinged crazy person in the climax, like what Obi-Wan and Yoda said in ESB, they got his character wrong.
Another thing is that Vader has to be emotional in order to be a Sith Lord and be a dark side user, at least one as effective as him. The dark side feeds on the emotions brought up by Yoda earlier. If he doesn’t have any of those emotions, he’s not going to be a good Sith or dark side user.
Obi-Wan says in ESB: “Don’t give into to hate. That leads to the dark side,” and they constantly talk about how that was how Vader fell. The Emperor and Vader constantly try to convince Luke to give into his emotions. And this is technically using a prequel quote as evidence, but Anakin literally says in Revenge of the Sith: “The Sith RELY on their PASSION for their strength.” What’s one of the synonyms for “cold” on Google? “Dispassionate”. Sounds like the opposite of a Sith to me. And he doesn’t just say they use passion, he says they RELY on it.
And you can’t say “vAdEr wAsN’t a sItH lOrD iN tHe oT, ThAt wAs A rEtCoN bY tHe PrEQuEls” because there are multiple sources that Vader was and has always been a Sith from the very beginning of Star Wars’ conception, even from the very first drafts of ANH.
The original draft of ANH that mentions “the lords of the Sith” and that Vader is a Sith Lord sent by the Emperor. Also, “most ferocious” is used to describe Vader. Doesn’t sound calm to me. So explain to me, then, how it’s out of character for Vader to viciously slaughter Jedi and Rebel soldiers like a badass (like in Rogue One), when it’s his implied backstory both in previous drafts and in the final version of ANH (“…helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights”)? What version of Vader do you want, one that just commands his underlings to do all of the work for him? You just think it’s out of character for him because it isn’t directly shown in the OT and therefore it’s weird to you to see Vader doing that kind of stuff. But I love it, because now the threat of Vader isn’t just talk, we get to see his ruthlessness.
Then you also got the lost cut of A New Hope in which Vader is directly called “a Sith Lord” in the dialogue.
And while we’re at it, I should also mention that the OT also establishes Vader as a person who cares about his family above all else. Watch this scene. Listen to the way Vader’s talking. He’s not talking to him like an angry Sith Lord. He’s talking to him like a father. He’s talking to him like an emotional man who doesn’t want his family to leave him again.
The crawl to ESB says Vader is “obsessed” with finding Luke. Obsessed is a pretty strong word if you ask me. That requires a lot of PASSION, which is the opposite of cold. The Emperor and Vader’s first conversation in ROTJ is about how he’s still obsessed with his son. The entire bridge scene with Luke and Vader later in that film is also more proof that his son means a lot to him. He opens up to him, something you really can’t say about any Imperial officer, Sidious, or even Obi-Wan. He tries to mask it and pretend he doesn’t care (“If that is your destiny”) but that’s just a façade. He actually considers turning to the light (“It is too late for me, son”).
Also some lines from that scene also prove Vader has anger issues and is a very emotional man.
Vader: “That name no longer has any meaning for me!” (not really the line itself, but how he delivers it; it’s clearly something that set him off)
Luke: “I feel the conflict within you let go of your hate!”
And eventually, he does. His son is what turns him back to the light. He turns against the Emperor and everything he stood for for more then two decades because he loves his son, and family means so much to him.
So when he asked the Emperor if his wife was safe and alright and then got mad when he was told he murdered her, that wasn’t “out of character” either.
I’d say with all of this in mind, Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One (I mean, you literally have him choke a guy and then say a dark joke, just like he did with Needa), and the new Vader comics got Vader pretty spot on. He was always a Sith that gave into and was consumed by his fear, hatred, passion, and anger and became twisted and evil, unleashing his fury upon his enemies. He was always a (for a lack of a better word) clingy person, attached to his family to the point where they’re like an obsession to him. There is nothing to suggest he’s this calm person who joined the Sith because he actually thought they were morally correct. Vader has always been an emotional man, never a completely logical one. Besides, he has every reason to be angry considering how messed up, painful, and tragic his life is.
If you want to see what a calm, collected villain looks like, that would be Count Dooku.
Now this isn’t to say that Vader can never be cold. He was pretty cold to Lando and Han Solo in ESB. But that’s because he had no reason to get angry at Lando or Han. To him, Lando’s just some a dude who owns a mining colony that he’s never met before in his life, and Han to him is just some pilot, a tool to use to get to his son. But Vader does get angry in the OT. All the time. Even in those situations, it did seem that he kinda got a little irritated with Lando constantly questioning him, and the way he watches Han get tortured up close seems to give me the vibes that he relishes in it, which could be because he knows he had a part in destroying the Death Star, and for all of the trouble he’s been giving him.
Thank you for coming to my TED talk. I apologize if I ever sounded aggressive when explaining my viewpoint.
My Star Wars Fan-Edits
Proud creator of Dinosauria: Ascension, Domination, Downfall