Who is he?
We don’t think it’s going too far to suggest that here is the single most iconic screen villain of all time: his appearance is terrifying, his voice bone-chilling, his words pure, dripping evil. But what really turns Darth into the stuff of our childhood nightmares are his actions: from snapping necks left and right – both in person and remotely – to cutting off his own son’s hand (let’s just let that one sink in for a moment), this is a guy who really, really shouldn’t be trifled with.
Why do we love him?
Because, however much we love them, the movies are full of sarcastic space pilots, pistol-packing princesses, upstanding blonde heroes, robot sidekicks and wise old wizards, but there will only ever be one Darth Vader.
His backstory is perhaps problematic – the pre-teen Anakin is just a horrid little squirt, while Hayden Christensen’s grown-up incarnation can’t quite get beyond the terrible dialogue and fully engage as a character. That said, his descent into evil is convincingly handled, and the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi is operatically magnificent.
But it’s nothing next to Darth’s greatest hits: lightsabering a platoon of Rebel soldiers without so much as a shrug; tuning up his TIE-fighter controls like a snooker player chalking his cue; throttling his commanders one by one like the expendable flies they are; revealing the truth to Luke on that rickety gantry; turning on his former master as unearthly electricity howls in the bones of his face; and finally, heartbreakingly, lying stretched out on that medieval pyre as black smoke wreathes around his broken corpse. He is a perfect creation, never to be improved upon. Darth, we tremblingly salute you.
Key line: ‘If you only knew the power of the Dark Side.’