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As a young boy in The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker grew up in the Outer Rim of the galaxy; where he and his mother Shmi lived under the junk dealer Watto. Tatooine and its legalized slavery system thrived to the point where it became nearly impossible for Skywalker to part with his mother after Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn freed him. It would be too late when Skywalker returned to free his mother in Attack of the Clones.
A naturally gifted boy with a midi-chlorian count higher than any Jedi in history was viewed as a possible salvation for ending the war against the Sith lord. Skywalker became one of the most recognized villains in film history, but it surely didn’t happen overnight. As Yoda foresaw, darkness surrounded Skywalker; consuming the Jedi with bitterness and evil that would later enslave the galaxy for years. Although Skywalker’s character was explored decades after the well-known Star Wars trilogy, he’s the most interesting in terms of character arc, the past that separates him from most Jedi, and his turn to the dark side. His dark past and lust for power make Skywalker the most influential and memorable character of the entire franchise.
The young Jedi was unlike any other Jedi at the time, due to his lack of padawan training. He excelled in no time under the training of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but faced reality when he and his master took on Count Dooku, also known as Darth Tyranus. Dooku easily defeated the two, severing Skywalker’s arm, but was luckily saved by Yoda’s intervention, Dooku’s previous master, before turning to the dark side.
His love for Padme Amidala was unrivaled by any suitor, despite their age gap, but ultimately led to his eventual downfall. After the clone wars ended, Skywalker foresaw Amidala’s death during childbirth, prompting him to confide in Senator Palpatine. Unbeknownst to him was Darth Sidious. Skywalker was easily gullible, looking for any and every way to gain power and influence both in the Jedi Order and his wife.
Palpatine convinced the republic with the lie that executing Order 66 would instill safety and peace to the galaxy as the Jedi were rebelling, according to LiveAbout. Order 66 was a command only he could perform, requiring all clone troopers to turn on their Jedi companions and eliminate every last one without question. The order would grant Palpatine no resistance against him. When Palpatine ordered Skywalker to carry out Order 66, there was no hesitation leading to the deaths of nearly every Jedi. Order 66 was considered Skywalker’s first mission as his alter ego, Darth Vader.
Skywalker was kind and goodhearted, but was introduced to a world he shouldn’t have been in. His dark past on Tatooine never left him and was the beginning of his turnover to the alter ego, Darth Vader. The Jedi Order commanded no emotional attachment to anyone from any Jedi. Skywalker’s emotions got the best of him more than once, including the battle with Dooku. After decapitating Dooku at the command of Palpatine, there’s a faint glimmer in his eye, and we see a shadow of a smile. At that time, Skywalker’s power struggle was born, and there was no stopping it.
In the original trilogy, Vader stirred the events leading to his childrens’ meeting. Starting with the search for the Death Star’s destruction plans hidden inside R2-D2 and the death of his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who accompanied Luke throughout much of his force journey. Vader’s power, fueled by Palpatine, brought all the allies we recognize from the franchise together to restore peace to the galaxy and save the planet Kashyyyk, which was ruled by Palpatine’s stormtrooper forces.
When Luke and Leia defeated the empire, Vader became recognized as the franchise’s overall hero, sacrificing himself to save his son. So, in a way, it’s safe to say he is the villain and hero of Star Wars. Being on both sides of the force is incredibly difficult to contain story-wise, but was done successfully. Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi did an excellent job of showing Skywalker’s inner struggle with the dark side and his belief that he was doing the right thing. Greed and power were the main themes of the prequels representing Skywalker’s character as he accidentally kills his wife out of anger and his loyalty to himself, and talks of overthrowing Palpatine. Skywalker’s arc from a talented boy to the darkest villain, to the unsung hero, continues to bring fandoms and moviegoers back for more memories, in a galaxy far far away.
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