Darth Vader is one of the most endlessly fascinating characters in the Star Wars universe. Stories of his exploits, adventures, and misdeeds are as widely known in our galaxy as they are his. But where would Vader be without his trusty weapon by his side? Darth Vader’s lightsaber is a huge part of his character, and there’s no shortage of interesting trivia and background to pick up on when it comes to this iconic Sith weapon.
It Used Two Types Of Crystals
Throughout its lifetime, Vader’s lightsaber utilized two types of power crystals. The first was called a synth-crystal, an artificial product that was normally not used in lightsabers due to their unpredictable nature. However, Sith engineers found a way to develop synth-crystals that effectively channeled Vader’s use of the Force.
It Was Created In 19 BBY
19 BBY was a busy year for the Star Wars galaxy. The creation of Darth Vader’s new lightsaber was among the more notable of the year’s many events. It took quite a bit of time for Vader to create this new blade after he lost the first one, but he would put it to good use upon its completion.
Vader Constructed It Himself After Losing His First
Anakin’s blue lightsaber is taken from him after his duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith. The next time that viewers see him with a lightsaber, the weapon is of a different design and color. What fans may not know is that Vader didn’t just take this lightsaber from someone else, but rather constructed it himself.
Its Hilt Design Came From A Jedi That Vader Murdered
In the Darth Vader comic written by Charles Soule, Emperor Palpatine sends Vader to assassinate a Jedi who had managed to survive Order 66. The Jedi, Kirak Infil’a, put up a valiant fight against Vader but would eventually fall, leaving his weapon for Vader to take.
After an ensuing assassination attempt on Vader himself, Infil’a’s lightsaber was destroyed. Nevertheless, Vader still retained knowledge of the hilt’s design and later built a modified version of it while traveling to his lair on Mustafar.
Mustafar is a planet rife with connections to the Dark Side of the Force. Under its lava and mineral surface lies unfathomable evil energy, especially for Vader, who used his connection to the planet in conjunction with its connection to the Dark Side to fashion his blade.
Mustafar would become a major site for Vader’s continued study of the Dark Side. Building his fortress near the very location where Obi-Wan had nearly killed him, Vader’s negative emotions were at their height on this lava-filled planet, making it the perfect location for him to construct his next iconic weapon.
Its Red Color Is A Product Of A Sith Ritual Called “Bleeding”
Crafting a red lightsaber isn’t as simple as finding a red crystal. To make their blades red, Sith Lords need to engage in a process known as “bleeding,” which involves psychically pouring negative emotion into their respective kyber crystals until the color changes into a deep red, as is seen throughout the franchise.
Each Sith who wields a red lightsaber poured all their hate and rage into it, just as Vader did for his own blade. With this last Sith ritual complete, Darth Vader’s new weapon was ready for use, accompanying the Sith Lord on his many bloody missions over the next twenty years.
Grand Moff Tarkin was cunning enough to keep a close eye on Darth Vader. In Marvel’s Darth Vader comic, readers learn that Tarkin recognized the danger posed by Vader’s lightsaber. He comments at one point that he notices Vader’s hands frequently hovering over it.Tarkin was one of the few Imperial officers who was able to keep Vader on a tight leash–and for good reason. The high-ranking official knew that, for all his pontifications about the Force, Vader was nothing more than the Emperor’s lapdog who, once let off his leash, would attack. Tarkin kept a keen eye on the Sith throughout their interactions, knowing just how dangerous he really was.
Vader Could Alter The Length Of The Blade
Darth Vader was able to alter the size of his lightsaber’s blade for maximum efficiency in battle. Belonging to a breed known as the “dual-phase” lightsaber, the dimensions of Vader’s blade could be changed as needed.
While Vader is never seen taking advantage of this capability in the original trilogy, it is interesting to know that the Sith Lord was not using every tool in his possession while battling Luke. It may be that he was truly holding back throughout the original three Star Wars films.
Rogue One features an unforgettable scene wherein Darth Vader slays a squadron of rebels in an unlit hallway. This scene is easily one of his darkest moments in the franchise as he brutally kills each of his enemies without remorse. This was a surprising move for the Sith Lord, as Vader only uses his lightsaber to confront another lightsaber wielder or a significant number of blaster-wielding enemies.Using his lightsaber to engage the ten to twenty rebel soldiers that were on that ship was perhaps unnecessary for the Dark Lord of the Sith. While Vader likely did not need his lightsaber to engage so small a force, his actions could signify the Sith’s rage at the Death Star plans being stolen by so meager an army.
It Didn’t Actually Kill Obi-Wan
Obi-Wan Kenobi, former master and best friend of Vader, appears to die by his one-time Padawan’s hand in the very first Star Wars film. However, according to the official canon of the Star Wars saga, Kenobi didn’t die as Vader swung at him but rather became one with the Force just as Vader’s lightsaber was about to kill him. Luke does the same thing in The Last Jedi, similarly leaving behind only a cloak in his stead.
Obi-Wan always felt responsible for Anakin’s fall, consistently refusing to kill his friend after defeating him in battle. However, after becoming Vader, Anakin fostered a deep and seething hatred for his former master. After being bested on both Mustafar and in the finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vader’s victory was stolen from him once more by Kenobi’s convenient transcendence.
It Was Destroyed Along With Palpatine
After a duel with Luke Skywalker, Vader has his hand cut off once more, losing his lightsaber to the void of the Death Star II’s core. Shortly thereafter, Vader destroys the evil Emperor Palpatine, tossing him into the very same pit and becoming Anakin Skywalker once more. Vader managed to die a noble death after all, with his lightsaber and his former master being destroyed in the Death Star’s explosion.
This lightsaber is a metaphor for Vader himself. Made from Jedi parts, bathed in hatred, and used as a tool for evil purposes, its journey closely resembles that of Anakin Skywalker. It is only fitting, then, that this lightsaber ends with the death of Darth Vader and the rebirth of Anakin Skywalker.
While fans are familiar with James Earl Jones’s booming voice as Darth Vader, the process of bringing the character to life is a bit more complicated. In fact, over the course of the franchise, several different actors have been inside the suit, wielding Vader’s signature lightsaber onscreen.
David Prowse is best known as Vader’s body double in the original Star Wars trilogy, but an uncredited stunt actor, later revealed to be professional fencer Bob Anderson, performed the Sith’s lightsaber-heavy scenes. When Vader returns in Rogue One, both Daniel Naprous and Spencer Wilding would capture his movements, including his iconic hallway fight at the end of the film. Later still, Vader’s movements would be captured through the teamwork of Hayden Christensen, Dmitrious Bistrevsky, and Tom O’Connell in the Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ultimately, though there will only ever be one Darth Vader, it took many actors to bring the character to life.
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