If you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you’re a Star Wars fan and that you’ve heard about the unfortunate death of Darth Vader. Since the franchise is widely popular, I thought I’d explore the darker aspects of the stories behind the stories.
Darth Vader’s Death
Darth Vader’s death is one of the stranger events in the history of the Star Wars saga. It was a massive tragedy that impacted the entire galaxy, even those who weren’t particularly sympathetic to the Dark Lord. After years of torment and an undisclosed health problem, Vader finally succumbed to his injuries. Of course, it wasn’t really his injuries that killed him; it was the greed of a youngling named Kylo Ren. Seeking to prove his worth in the eyes of his master, Kylo snuck into Vader’s medical facility and slew the tyrannical Sith lord in his sleep. From that point on, Darth Vader became the ultimate symbol of tragedy and vengeance in the Star Wars universe. The tragedy of his story is unmatched in intensity, making it one of the all-time greats.
The Dark Side Of The Force
Kylo Ren’s story is one of the most tragic in all of Star Wars. Before he was even given the name Kylo Ren, the youngling was trained in the ways of the Dark Side from an early age. His first act of defiance was in 28 ABY, when he cut off his control collar and joined the Resistance. Still, the Emperor remained suspicious of the teenager and ordered his apprehension. For the next decade, Kylo Ren was held in the dreaded Kylothian Superprison, where he was taught about the power of the dark side and experienced horrific tortures that would be reserved for the worst criminals in the galaxy. What makes this story particularly tragic is that Kylo Ren was innocent of any wrongdoings; he was coerced into following the dark side by his master, Darth Vader.
Death In The Family
One of the truly unique aspects of the Star Wars saga is that it doesn’t just focus on the big stories. Behind the scenes, there are numerous family tragedies that serve as building blocks for the greater narrative. The most significant of these tragedies is the death of Luke Skywalker. In 6 ABY, the last remaining Jedi was forced to flee his homeworld of Tatooine after a brief but fierce battle with Darth Vader. The Emperor later declared Luke an enemy of the state due to his peaceful beliefs, making him a fugitive in exile. In this time of crisis, Han Solo and his fellow Rebels came to the rescue. Using the ships stored in the Empire’s secret base (aptly called the Death Star), the Rebels helped Luke escape to the asteroid field surrounding the forest moon of Endor. There, Luke was given sanctuary and joined a Rebel Alliance that was secretly founded by Princess Leia.
Over the next several years, Luke worked closely with Han and Leia to build a squad of special allies to help in the fight against the Empire. In 15 ABY, the Rebel Alliance received a massive blow when the devastating Death Star was finally completed. This massive space station was the Empire’s ultimate weapon of mass destruction, and it was equipped with laser turrets that could target all corners of the forest moon. When the battle for Endor began, Luke and his allies desperately tried to outmaneuver the Empire’s terrifying new military machine. Though they were successful in driving the battle droids back, one of their X-wings was shot out of the sky and crashed near the lake. For a time, it seemed that Luke’s miraculous survival was in jeopardy. As the son of a famous pilot, everyone assumed that he would be killed in the line of duty. Fortunately for Luke and the Rebel Alliance, he was rescued by a group of Imperial scouts who had been tracking his every move. Realizing that the boy was the key to bringing down the Emperor, Vader instructed the scouts to take Luke back to his father, Anthony “A. Solo” Skywalker. The scouts complied, and Luke spent several years in the company of William “W. Hartman” Solo, A.K.A. “Ducky” Solo. Sadly, the years were not kind to Luke’s father, and he passed away in 19 ABY, leaving Luke an orphan again.
Luke’s childhood was tragic, but he eventually found solace in the company of the Rebellion. Still, his adventures with the Rebels were frequently interrupted by calls to duty. In 10 ABY, the Emperor finally managed to capture Luke. Though Vader attempted to coerce the young Jedi to return to the dark side, Luke refused and was subsequently rescued by a last-ditch effort led by Han Solo. The two were eventually forced to take shelter in the Millennium Falcon. Unbeknownst to them, however, the Falcon had been sabotaged by the Imperials, who were searching for the boys. Luke’s rescue had severe repercussions. The Falcon was forced to land on the desert planet of Jakku, where moisture generators were mysteriously malfunctioning. As a result, the Falcon received critical damage, forcing Han and Luke to take shelter in the abandoned TIE fighter. Jakku was recently annexed by the Empire, and the Falcon was declared a fugitive ship.
There are also several other examples of secrets within the Star Wars saga. In 23 ABY, the Emperor’s longtime assistant, Sidious, revealed his true identity as the charismatic Lord (later Emperor) Sidious. In doing so, he confessed to all the murders and atrocities that he committed during his long tenure in the Emperor’s service. Other notable secrets in the Star Wars canon include the existence of a secret Rebel base on the forest moon of Endor (which was destroyed by the Emperor in 25 ABY), the genocide of the Gurlons (a species of fur-bearing creatures that were hunted to extinction in 19 ABY), and the mysterious death of Grand Moff Tarkin.
Is It A Coincidence?
There are also some eerie parallels between the histories of Han Solo and Darth Vader. Before becoming the merciless ruler of the galaxy, Darth Vader underwent a similar training regimen. It was partly for his own protection and partly to keep him under the Sith’s dominion. It seems as though Han Solo’s adventures with the Rebel Alliance were also used to keep him in line. In 3 ABY, when the Empire was first created, Han was forced to fight in the devastating battle of Yavin, where he and his fellow Rebel pilots prevented the Death Star from being completed. This battle caused significant damage to the Empire’s most famous star destroyer. It’s likely that the Emperor didn’t want Han to escape because he knew that the Solo family was rich in resources and could assist the Rebellion in various ways.
More Than Meets The Eye
Aside from being a powerful movie series, the Star Wars saga is also a sprawling epic that includes comic books, novels, and even video games. Within these media, there are additional tragic tales that help to round out the larger narrative. One such example is that of the tragic and short-lived life of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In 1999, Disney published a novel entitled Obi-Wan’s Tale. In it, the Jedi master recounts his early life as Anakin Skywalker’s mentor. During his apprenticeship, Obi-Wan fell in love with the legendary Princess Leia and was subsequently banished from his homeworld of Tatooine. After years of wandering, Obi-Wan eventually joined the Rebellion and became its leader. Just prior to taking on the role of the leader, Obi-Wan was diagnosed with a fatal illness. Though he tried his best to overcome his illness, he ultimately lost the struggle and passed away in 4 ABY. Kenobi’s last words were, “May the Force be with you.”
What makes these stories even more tragic is that they never saw the light of day. Many of these novels and comics were written during the George Lucas era, when authors and screenwriters were allowed certain editorial leeway in terms of storytelling. These stories were often filled with fantastical inventions and unbelievable events. However, when the authors and creators of these works tried to publish them, they were frequently rejected due to the content. It was only after Lucasfilm purchased the copyright for these stories that they were finally released to the public. It’s still considered a great tragedy that these stories will never be told. Perhaps, one day, someone will decide to finally put them to paper.