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Feature
The 30 Greatest Star Wars Characters
From Admiral Ackbar to... Yoda - we count down Lucas' best creations

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The 30 Greatest Star Wars Characters | 2. Darth Vader
2. Darth Vader

"If I were in Star Wars," said John Milius, "I'd definitely want to be working for Darth Vader. I'd much rather be on his side." Obviously, Big John (whose Apocalypse Now script, originally set for George Lucas to direct, prefigures the Star Wars saga in its voyage of a young hero who has to destroy then become his spiritual father) assumes he'll be the sort of minion who won't disappoint the boss and wind up telekinetically strangled, but you can see his point.

The heroes of Star Wars spend the whole film squabbling, but Vader gets on with the job.

With the weightlifter shoulders of Bristol's Dave Prowse holding up the long black cape, the rich tones of Mississippi's James Earl Jones making evil lines sound better than they are ("The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands") and costumier John Mollo providing that glossy black stormtrooper/samurai-helmet-cum-gas mask, Darth Vader is the visual and dramatic lynch-pin of Star Wars, the perfect balance for Alec Guinness' tweedy, elderly goodie.

Vader knows that if everyone else wears white, black is the ideal fashion statement.

In Star Wars, he doesn't even seem to be working for the Empire - for him, it's all about becoming the last of the Jedi by offing Obi-Wan. Later, when Lucas invented more backstory, Vader gets one of the great reveals of all time ("I am your father") and - for a few moments at the end of The Empire Strikes Back - you feel Luke really ought to ditch the Rebels and join his dad to found their own Empire.

The end of Return Of The Jedi, with Vader unmasked as a redeemable cherubic nice guy, is arguably a mistake - but what power the prequel trilogy has is all down to watching Anakin get ready for that helmet come Revenge Of The Sith's devastating conclusion. KIM NEWMAN

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Your Comments

1 WTF?
AS usual this list is screwy, how does Portmans stroppy bitch beat Windu? Windu chopped off Jango Fetts head and he gets stepped over by a fucking biker scout? A princess? Some red draped security guard from the Death Star? Probaly the greatest JEDI ever, and you miscreants piss on his eternal memory. Fuck all y' all ! More

Posted by DAVIDK on Wednesday June 19, 2013, 13:09

2
Dannybohy, if you stopped reading Empire in the 90s, what you still doing here? My Name is Legion, it's not the 30 most important characters but the 30 greatest characters! Sheesh! More

Posted by zeech1941 on Wednesday November 7, 2012, 19:18

3
Dannybohy, if you stopped reading Empire in the 90s, what you still doing here? My Name is Legion, it's not the 30 most important characters but the 30 greatest characters! Sheesh! More

Posted by zeech1941 on Wednesday November 7, 2012, 18:23

4 RE:
Empire haven't got a clue. This is exactly why I stopped buying the magazine religiously like i did in the mid 90s!, the fecking stupids lists!! everybody likes a list, but every damn issue and always complete and utter shite. More

Posted by Dannybohy on Wednesday November 7, 2012, 14:41

5
Yoda 'species indeterminate?' actually Yoda is a Whyll. Star wars.com says so? It's just a shame he never got to win a light saber fight, the chance to name a DVD chapter 'The Triumph ofvthe Whyll ' would have been hard to resist More

Posted by PaoloCorleone on Monday November 5, 2012, 14:37

6 Bad Mother Fucka
Mace Windu no 29??? Biatch please... More

Posted by JohnMcClane81 on Saturday November 3, 2012, 20:58

7 The Pilots
Where is Wedge Antilles, he survived both Deathstar runs. Where is Biggs Darklighter, he died that we might live. More

Posted by Avoid on Saturday November 3, 2012, 11:42

8 Interesting point by Legion!
Boba Fette is a cool character but Luke should surely be above him. Only other change would be Darth Vader at number 1. More

Posted by guysalisbury on Friday November 2, 2012, 13:30

9 Sam Jackson is great, but Mace Windu isn't
Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Padme Amidala and Count Dooku were some of the worst written, one dimensional, no-depth characters ever to grace the big screen, they were definitely not great creations and should not be included in this list. More

Posted by Jamie_M on Friday November 2, 2012, 13:20

10
Oh yeah forgot too say...fck luke Skywalker, Han is the man More

Posted by UncleFknBully on Friday November 2, 2012, 11:58

11
Wtf...where is Salacious B.Crumb? More

Posted by UncleFknBully on Friday November 2, 2012, 11:55

12
Congratulations Empire on once again completely missing the point when it comes to what made Star Wars work. Luke Skywalker is the most important character. Why? Because he represents us, our longing to be somebody, to do something important, to escape from the mundane and grow as an individual. The binary sunset scene alone pisses all over the entire prequel trilogy. Yet you place him 7th, below Boba Fett! A nothing character when you actually look past all the fanboy shite. You didn't get it thirteen years ago, and you still don't get it now. More

Posted by My name is Legion on Friday November 2, 2012, 02:46

13 Excellent List
I agree with this list almost 100%, although I wouldn't have included some of the lame, one-dimensional prequel pseudo-characters like Mace Windu. (Actually, with the exception of Darth Maul, I probably would've left the prequels out entirely. Those movies, after all, don't feature characters so much as merchandising opportunities.) In Windu's place I would've added Grand Moff Tarkin, somewhere higher on the list. More

Posted by intelandroid on Thursday November 1, 2012, 23:45


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