Fictional Father Files # 1: Darth Vader

Vader #1 Dad

As dudes around the papablogosphere are collectively Forcegasming at the prospect of getting to take their kids to a brand new Star Wars movie, here I am at home with a scruffy little nerf herder who can’t keep his attention on animals shaped like cans (or are they cans shaped like animals?) for more than 5 consecutive minutes. Not wanting to miss out on the hype, I present the first Fictional Father File with my thoughts on the galaxy’s most notorious dad. Maybe it will become a thing (but will hopefully rarely be so geeky).

The Set-Up

We all knew Anakin Skywalker’s forbidden relationship with sexy senator Padmé was doomed from the start. When said relationship turns clingy and violent, his BFF Obi-Wan Kenobi whisks the secretly-pregnant Padmé away after leaving Anakin chopped up to pieces and smouldering in a rising tide of lava.

The fun really begins years later when Luke, a humble but starry-eyed Tatooinian moisture farmer who never knew his father, runs off with Obi-Wan to join the Rebellion. We meet the evil Emperor’s baddest and most powerful thug, Darth Vader, and over the next few marvelous hours of film Vader proceeds to kill Luke’s beloved mentor, help destroy a rebel base, torture Luke’s buddy Han then freeze him in carbonite and hand him over to a vicious bounty hunter, finally beating the shit out of Luke and cutting off his hand before revealing that – SPOILERS!!! – he is Luke’s father.

Luke narrowly escapes his run-in with his deadly daddy and goes on to find the discipline he needed to become the Jedi he was always destined to be. And once he finally harnesses this power he does something totally whack, surrendering himself over to the Empire at a critical moment so he can try and turn Pops back over to the Light side of the Force. Vader is super excited about getting some bonding time and the chance to show Luke how much fun the Dark side can be, but Luke sticks to his guns (actually, his lightsaber) and insists that he won’t hurt his beloved padre. This pisses off the evil Emperor who tries to kill Luke, but at the last minute Vader steps in to save Luke, sacrificing himself.

Fatherly Traits

  • Strict. Firm hand, harsh disciplinarian.
  • Encouraging about Luke’s talent with the Force and lightsaber-constructing
  • Judgmental of the people Luke chooses to spend time with
  • Legacy-oriented, wants kids to join the family business
  • Non-existent sense of humour

Profound Paternal Phrase

“Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.” Shivers.

Runner-up: “You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right.” Nice to hear Leia get this one affectionate shout-out.

Cold, but thoughtful?

The Defining Moment

When Luke proves once and for all that he is a real Jedi and won’t be swayed to the Dark Side, the Emperor gets tired of the family reunion and decides to torture Luke to death. Seeing Luke writhe in agony is a bit more than Vader can bear – he steps in to grab the Emperor and chuck him down one of the Death Star’s many dangerously-placed bottomless vents.

This seemingly happens pretty quickly, but for Vader this is a monumental move. Remember that Anakin Skywalker must have had some daddy issues of his own, and that the Emperor – the most skilled emotional manipulator in the Star Wars universe – had been like a father to him. In that context, Vader’s change of heart can’t be just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing Luke in pain, but rather a major shift in his consciousness and values system.

Obi-wan, Yoda and Bail Antilles conspired to hide the Skywalker children’s existence from their father, which is a really crummy thing to do a dad no matter how many Jedi younglings he slaughtered in his recent past.

The Assessment: ** (2 Death Stars out of a possible 4)

I can’t forgive the fact that he betrayed the Jedi and helped an evil tyrant rule the universe for years. I can’t forgive the torturing of Han or the destruction of Alderaan (although that one really wasn’t Vader’s call). I definitely can’t forgive the epic beat-down and then removal of Luke’s hand. But Vader came through when his son really needed him, and that counts for something with me.

He certainly had his faults, but my initial thought that Vader was deadbeat dad just doesn’t hold water. Obi-wan, Yoda and Bail Antilles conspired to hide the Skywalker children’s existence from their father, which is a really crummy thing to do a dad no matter how many Jedi younglings he slaughtered in his recent past. We know that Darth Vader was always driven to be the very best that he could be…had he known that the little ones existed earlier we can be sure that he would have relentlessly scoured the galaxy to find them and bring them under his nurturing, evil tutelage.

He still came out alright in the end. When it counted, all the power of the Dark side, all his loyalty to the Emperor, all the terrible things Vader had done in his past were overcome by Luke’s love for his dad. It was enough to unearth Anakin’s own paternal love, buried deep under all the layers of hate and evil. In the end that love saved his soul, and the galaxy along with it.

OR DID IT???? Where the hell is Luke 30 years later? Who is Kylo Ren and what is he up to with Vader’s melty helmet?? We will find out in a few days, as soon as I can pawn this Canimal-watching nerf herder off on a babysitter.

Have thoughts on Darth Vader as a father figure? Please share below!



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