After nearly a dozen years without seeing Darth Vader on the big screen, he’s returning to a theater near you very soon in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We don’t anticipate a huge role from the Dark Lord of the Sith, but we’re on the edge of our seats to see exactly what role he’s going to play. After all, Rogue One will tell the tale of what happens just before A New Hope, and Vader had two key jobs in that original movie: find the stolen Death Star plans and find the Rebels’ hidden base. And we’ll learn more about both of those things in the latest Star Wars movie.
With all that in mind, we were inspired to look back on the Force-user formerly known as Anakin Skywalker’s best moments in the four movies in which he’s appeared so far. Mostly, they’re fantastic moments inspiring fear and intimidation, but also moments of astounding Force ability, lightsaber prowess, deft piloting, and hints of a slightly softer side of the Sith.
“There is no escape,” as Vader would say, from Darth Vader’s 15 Best Movie Moments.
15. LIGHTSABER DUEL WITH OBI-WAN – A NEW HOPE
Old Obi-Wan is strolling through the dark, industrial hallways of the Death Star, when who does he stumble upon? It’s our favorite insanely intimidating, dark-suited dude, just standing there in the hall, red lightsaber ignited but pointed down. He’s calmly waiting to meet his old master one last time. You just know he knows he’s about to destroy the old man. He’s just going to stand there a minute and savor the moment before calmly approaching, telling Obi-Wan he’s been waiting for him. No kidding.
It’s Obi-Wan who looks scared. Not that you can see Vader’s face behind the mask, but you know he’s not sweating it. It’s in his body language and voice, even as he gloats a bit, telling his former master that, “Now I am the master.” And then they go at it. Is it the most thrilling lightsaber battle ever? No. It’s a little stiff. But it was nonetheless the first one ever and it was mind-blowing to hear those sabers clash and buzz and hum for the first time. Even when Obi-Wan threatens that he’ll somehow become super powerful if Vader kills him, Vader remains unphased and wastes no time killing the old Jedi when Obi-Wan chooses to give himself up. It may have been the easiest win of Vader’s dueling career, but it’s one that would ultimately come back to haunt him, thanks to Obi-Wan’s ghostly mentoring of Luke.
14. NOT KILLING ADMIRAL PIETT – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Vader isn’t exactly known for forgiveness, despite his telling Moff Jerjerrod in Return of the Jedi: “The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.” No, he’s known for Force-choking even his highest ranking officials at the slightest provocation (more on that later). In The Empire Strikes Back, he puts Captain Piett through a lot. His coworkers drop like flies thanks to Vader’s lack of forgiveness, he has to see his boss without his helmet on, and he’s subjected to some creepy bounty hunters.
Piett looks scared to death of his boss in pretty much every scene. And that fear may just be what keeps him alive. Vader knows Piett isn’t going to question him or do anything to purposely anger him, because he likes his throat exactly as it is. That’s likely why Vader chooses to spare him at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.
Piett’s men deactivated the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon on Vader’s orders, but unbeknownst to them, R2-D2 fixed it just before Piett tried to pull the ship in with a tractor beam. The Falcon got away. Watching out the Super Star Destroyer window, Piett shakes in his boots while Vader pulls a quietly badass move. He makes a half turn, looks back out the window as if to say, then just turns and walks away. Hands calmly behind his back, he gives Piett the slightest of ice-cold glares, clearly telling his latest right-hand man that there’ll be no more chances. Unsurprisingly, you don’t see as much of Piett in Return of the Jedi.