Regardless of how he’s marketed, Darth Vader is supposed to be a frightening character. The trouble is, unless you’ve dug deeper into Star Wars lore than the average fan, you’ve probably never seen why Vader is such a heart-stopping terror. Even when he’s Force choking Imperial peons or fighting his son, he’s holding something back. Which is why I’m still trying to pick my jaw off the floor after seeing a truly demonic Vader cut down Rebel fighters in Rogue One.
I mean, did you see that scene? Vader ignites his red lightsaber in a pitch black hallway, and calmly tears through nearly everyone in the room. People die, and they die horribly. He even cuts a dude he levitates to the ceiling in half! I’ve watched that scene in theaters twice now, and both times I found myself recoiling out of both awe and horror, saying, “Oh shit!” over and over again.
Here’s the thing: if you’ve been reading the comics and watching Star Wars Rebels, you already know that Vader isn’t so much a person as he is a weapon of mass destruction. Whole Rebel squadrons cannot take this guy down.
Fledgling Jedi are no match for him, because obviously:
And playing as Vader in Star Wars: Battlefront really gives you the feeling of how much of a beast he is on the field:
But there’s a marked difference between seeing his exploits in comic form, in an animated series, or a game, and watching actual human beings face a monster’s murderous wrath on the big screen. As a reminder: Vader choked a rebel to death with his own gloved hands in A New Hope. It’s taken a long time for him to be that explicitly brutal again.
But Rogue One makes how much of a threat Vader presents not only dreadful, but intimate. All you have to do is put yourself in the shoes of one of those doomed Rebel soldiers, and you realize this take on Vader is a whole new level of scary. It makes losing a hand seem like child’s play.
Darth Vader might still be a Teddy Bear to some people, but there’s no denying now that he’s practically made of evil. I want to say that makes him so much cooler, but I almost feel bad thinking about it.