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  1. #1

    What made Vader a scarier person from ANH to ESB?

    In ANH, Vader can't even throw a scare into Leia despite being encased in frightening armor and standing a foot and a half taller than her. Leia laughs off his threats and calls him smelly. It's only a creaky old man's threats which truly frighten her, Grandma Tarkin (yeah, I said that) uses mere ideas to make Leia quake in her white boots, while Vader is simply the muscle, making her face forward. Elsewhere in the film, high-ranking officers are talking to Vader as an equal, even mouthing off to him until he finally gets cheesed off and strangles a guy by doing a "I'm crushing your head" finger move (and the power of his mind).

    Yet in ESB, everybody's crapping their pants at the thought of Vader left and right. Vader is now the ultimate commander of the moment. But what has changed here? Vader dresses the same, carries the same lightsaber, has no more Force power than he used to, and his only real accomplishment between the two events is barely surviving the destruction of the Death Star, which just ain't that scary. Nobody who saw Vader choke a b**** lived to tell the tale, nor anyone who saw him cut Obi-Wan's robe in half. So is it just the drive within Vader to track down his son coming out as more authoritative? Is it that the destruction of the Death Star wiped out all higher-ranking Imperial officials save the Emperor? What is it that makes Vader a bigger galactic badass to the folks in ESB that was missing in ANH?
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    Everybody heard about the incident on Renoooine.

    He shot a man just to watch him die.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  3. #3
    I think ANH is the best evidence that Darth Vader was never intended to be the central character of the Star Wars story. He just kind of stomps around and gets angry, but nobody really seems to be intimidated by him in any way (kind of like Grievous in ROTS). He's a joke.

    I believe the difference in ESB is a result of the character being rewritten in response to his popularity with audiences.

    For an in-universe explanation, though, I guess we could say that Vader came back from the Death Star battle with a vengeance and proceeded to strike fear into the hearts of everyone around him. Isn't there supposed to be like a year or two between ANH and ESB? That would be plenty of time to build up a reputation.
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    Isn't there supposed to be like a year or two between ANH and ESB? That would be plenty of time to build up a reputation.
    I believe it's actually three years, and believe "he" is a "she" (whoops, wrong line ). I usually chalked that up to his obsession with finding Luke; any lackey who messed up those chances made him angry, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
    'It is always nice to see you, says the Besalisk at the counter... And instead I pour blue milk...' From "Dex's Diner" by Su-San Vega

  5. #5
    I always liked to think of Tarkin/Palpatine/Vader as the power base of the whole empire. In ANH, you see Tarkin talking to Vader as an equal and as a superior at times. Perhaps Tarkin told Vader to not be killing his officers without his permission. The officers would soon figure this out and not act so nervous around him. When Tarkin was killed, Vader could deal with the success and failure of his subordinates as he saw fit. In ESB and ROTJ, not every officer seems intimidated by him. General Veers certainly doesn' t seem to fear him and Admiral Piett in ROTJ seems more comfortable around him compared to how he did in ESB.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    I think ANH is the best evidence that Darth Vader was never intended to be the central character of the Star Wars story. He just kind of stomps around and gets angry, but nobody really seems to be intimidated by him in any way (kind of like Grievous in ROTS). He's a joke.

    I believe the difference in ESB is a result of the character being rewritten in response to his popularity with audiences.

    For an in-universe explanation, though, I guess we could say that Vader came back from the Death Star battle with a vengeance and proceeded to strike fear into the hearts of everyone around him. Isn't there supposed to be like a year or two between ANH and ESB? That would be plenty of time to build up a reputation.
    No question that you're right and his relative secondary status in ANH proves he's not a central story character. Lucas probably retroactively claims this was a plan to surprise audiences, but the truth is the development of the character is clearly not as Anakin Skywalker but just another monk in the Jedi order who betrayed Anakin and Obi-Wan, switching sides to the bad guys. I wouldn't say he's a joke, he does have big history with Obi-Wan which eventually leads him to kill Obi-Wan, he does have the Emperor's ear, and he is the last of the known Force users. That last point makes me think the entirety of the Jedi wasn't meant to be such a big deal either, people scoff at the Force a mere generation after its monks are destroyed.

    When we were kids, before the prequels rewrote a lot of the timeline and there was a renewed focus on centralizing such things, ESB was 2 years after ANH and ROTJ was 6 months after ESB, but now it's 3 years between ANH and ESB, and 1 year between ESB and ROTJ.

    It's enough time I guess to gather a big reputation, but Ozzel doesn't take Vader all that seriously - granted, he pays for that mistake, but can that really be the catalyst for his reputation change? Why is it that Ozzel doesn't worry yet Needa does? Did they really put a fool in charge of the Super Star Destroyer, or did Vader only get fully badass once Ozzel was lying on the floor?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bel-Cam Jos View Post
    I believe it's actually three years, and believe "he" is a "she" (whoops, wrong line ). I usually chalked that up to his obsession with finding Luke; any lackey who messed up those chances made him angry, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
    See my above point about Ozzel.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowtrooper View Post
    I always liked to think of Tarkin/Palpatine/Vader as the power base of the whole empire. In ANH, you see Tarkin talking to Vader as an equal and as a superior at times. Perhaps Tarkin told Vader to not be killing his officers without his permission. The officers would soon figure this out and not act so nervous around him. When Tarkin was killed, Vader could deal with the success and failure of his subordinates as he saw fit. In ESB and ROTJ, not every officer seems intimidated by him. General Veers certainly doesn' t seem to fear him and Admiral Piett in ROTJ seems more comfortable around him compared to how he did in ESB.
    I forgot, Vader doesn't even kill anybody noteworthy in ANH aside from an old forgotten wizard, Tarkin orders Vader to release Motti. Vader strangles and breaks the neck of Captain Antilles of Princess Leia's corvette, but nobody seems to be remotely surprised by this behavior since they were all there to kill and destroy. But does Tarkin's influence really calm the nerves that much? He's a regional governor and a grand moff in charge of the Death Star, when we first see Vader he's not even on the Death Star but a Star Destroyer - Vader is an attack dog, he goes where he's needed whether or not that's in Tarkin's area of control, can it be as simple as losing one regional governor? I don't know, it's an interesting argument but Moff Jerjerrod in ROTJ certainly wields no such command over Vader... of course, Jerjerrod really gets scared shipless only once word of the Emperor's arrival comes to light, not by Vader's presence alone.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  7. #7
    It just seemed to me that Tarkin wielded far more power and influence than his rank suggested. Granted there is not alot of evidence for this, but things like ordering the destruction of Alderaan without consulting the emperor, at least on screen, always made me wonder. I also liked to speculate that once Tarkin was lost, the empire began to decline. When Tarkin/Palpatine/Vader were together, they formed a near invincible triad that forged the empire together. Once that triad was broken, things began to unravel. These are just some thoughts I've had over the years without alot of evidence to support it. My apologies for wandering away from the topic.

  8. #8
    Isn't it obvious? Vader's new theme music made him feel much scarier.

    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    Leia laughs off his threats and calls him smelly.
    If you want to get technical, she calls Tarkin smelly and compares Vader to a pet: "Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."

    Vader does have an antagonistic relationship with Leia, though. It's clear from the dialogue that they're at least aware of each other when they meet on the Tantive IV, whether or not they've had face-to-face interactions before. But Leia is one tough cookie - she doesn't cower to Vader OR Tarkin's words most of the time. She does get visibly upset when Vader brings out the interrogation droid and loses her cool when Tarkin threatens to destroy her homeworld, which I think is a pretty reasonable reaction (and none of their threats had been so direct or serious previously). I think this is more an indication of how strong Leia is rather than how weak Vader is (or seems).

    Vader is clearly the most authoritative person involved in the capture of the Tantive IV - he gives orders to Jir and Praji and chokes Captain Antilles to death. As you said, he's an attack dog, and that's presumably his role in the Empire up to this point, but he's damn good at it. As we know, Obi-Wan tells Luke that Vader "helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights," and he's not afraid to get his (robotic) hands dirty by flying his own TIE Fighter to destroy the Rebels instead of just standing around waiting for other people to do the job for him, as Tarkin does. In the prequels and TCW, Anakin is much more comfortable and confident at fighting in battle than he is doing almost anything else - it's what he's good at, and it's what he loves. It seems that officers that don't directly work with him in this capacity, like Motti, don't have any respect for him since they haven't seen him doing what he does best. Either that, or some officers think they're hot stuff and get a little too big for their britches, like Ozzel.

    Vader is actually still in his attack-dog, down-in-the-trenches mode throughout ESB - his job is just much larger and has taken on more importance. During ANH, the Rebels are a nuisance with only one victory under their belts so far (as described in the ANH opening crawl - it's not their first major victory, it's their first victory period). But now, with the destruction of the Death Star and the fact that the Empire knows what the Rebels are capable of, the task of hunting down and destroying the Rebels - as Vader once did with the Jedi - is much more serious. Vader is essentially in the same role, he's just been given a much larger task force with which to do it, and he exerts his authority over them much more harshly. Of course there's also the personal element of him wanting to find this Luke Skywalker fellow who destroyed the Death Star, and the ESB opening crawl describes him as "obsessed" in this goal. So not only does he have the ability to exert more control in ESB, he now has the passion as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks
    No question that you're right and his relative secondary status in ANH proves he's not a central story character. Lucas probably retroactively claims this was a plan to surprise audiences, but the truth is the development of the character is clearly not as Anakin Skywalker but just another monk in the Jedi order who betrayed Anakin and Obi-Wan, switching sides to the bad guys. I wouldn't say he's a joke, he does have big history with Obi-Wan which eventually leads him to kill Obi-Wan, he does have the Emperor's ear, and he is the last of the known Force users. That last point makes me think the entirety of the Jedi wasn't meant to be such a big deal either, people scoff at the Force a mere generation after its monks are destroyed.
    Even if Darth Vader doesn't appear much or have much of an active role in ANH, his relationship to the main hero is still outlined clearly and appears to be leading to something more. Vader isn't just the guy who betrayed Obi-Wan by turning to the Dark Side, he's the guy who killed Luke's father. This is later cemented for Luke when Vader kills Obi-Wan - now Vader has personally killed two of his father figures. There's a personal connection for Luke (and Obi-Wan) there that doesn't exist with Tarkin - there's the somewhat less personal aspect of the fact that unknown (and thus faceless and nameless in Luke's mind) agents of the Empire killed Luke's aunt and uncle, but Vader is the representation in Luke's mind - and thus the audience's mind - of all that is evil and wrong with the Empire and the Dark Side. So even if the story in ANH isn't about Vader, he's still massively important to it.

    Looking at the real-world explanation, Tarkin was only added to the story so that the film would have a visibly human villain with a face. It's sometimes easy to forget how strange Star Wars was compared to other films at the time - I mean, a good chunk of the movie is just two robots roaming around the desert and one of them can't even talk - so it was probably done so that people would have a villain to connect to and root against on a human level. So perhaps by the time ESB rolled around, Lucas knew that Vader was already successful as a villain on his own so he was given a more prominent role. It might have had something to do with his popularity, but the fact remains that the film works on its own without any other major Imperial villains.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowtrooper View Post
    It just seemed to me that Tarkin wielded far more power and influence than his rank suggested. Granted there is not alot of evidence for this, but things like ordering the destruction of Alderaan without consulting the emperor, at least on screen, always made me wonder. I also liked to speculate that once Tarkin was lost, the empire began to decline. When Tarkin/Palpatine/Vader were together, they formed a near invincible triad that forged the empire together. Once that triad was broken, things began to unravel. These are just some thoughts I've had over the years without alot of evidence to support it. My apologies for wandering away from the topic.
    Interesting idea, and while yes Tarkin did destroy a planet and attempt to destroy a second without direct word from his boss, I never got the feeling that Tarkin was so vital to the Imperial Navy that his absence tore it apart, what leads you to think that (you don't need to cite hard evidence since you already explained that it was more from the gut, but gut feelings often have a trail of soft evidence too).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
    Isn't it obvious? Vader's new theme music made him feel much scarier.
    John Williams feels the kernels of The Imperial March are in ANH, that surprised me when I read it (it was I think in the SE liner notes). Then again, the TPM teaser trailer using classic OT music had much more impact than anything in the prequels, IMO, so maybe there's something to what you're jesting about.


    If you want to get technical, she calls Tarkin smelly and compares Vader to a pet: "Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board."
    If I wanted to get technical I wouldn't have used the term "smelly". We all know he's gotta stink in that suit though, but your point is accurate.

    Vader does have an antagonistic relationship with Leia, though. It's clear from the dialogue that they're at least aware of each other when they meet on the Tantive IV, whether or not they've had face-to-face interactions before. But Leia is one tough cookie - she doesn't cower to Vader OR Tarkin's words most of the time. She does get visibly upset when Vader brings out the interrogation droid and loses her cool when Tarkin threatens to destroy her homeworld, which I think is a pretty reasonable reaction (and none of their threats had been so direct or serious previously). I think this is more an indication of how strong Leia is rather than how weak Vader is (or seems).
    All true, she does cower a little from him on Bespin though but by then she had been interrogated by him in ANH.

    Vader is clearly the most authoritative person involved in the capture of the Tantive IV - he gives orders to Jir and Praji and chokes Captain Antilles to death. As you said, he's an attack dog, and that's presumably his role in the Empire up to this point, but he's damn good at it. As we know, Obi-Wan tells Luke that Vader "helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights," and he's not afraid to get his (robotic) hands dirty by flying his own TIE Fighter to destroy the Rebels instead of just standing around waiting for other people to do the job for him, as Tarkin does. In the prequels and TCW, Anakin is much more comfortable and confident at fighting in battle than he is doing almost anything else - it's what he's good at, and it's what he loves. It seems that officers that don't directly work with him in this capacity, like Motti, don't have any respect for him since they haven't seen him doing what he does best. Either that, or some officers think they're hot stuff and get a little too big for their britches, like Ozzel.

    Vader is actually still in his attack-dog, down-in-the-trenches mode throughout ESB - his job is just much larger and has taken on more importance. During ANH, the Rebels are a nuisance with only one victory under their belts so far (as described in the ANH opening crawl - it's not their first major victory, it's their first victory period). But now, with the destruction of the Death Star and the fact that the Empire knows what the Rebels are capable of, the task of hunting down and destroying the Rebels - as Vader once did with the Jedi - is much more serious. Vader is essentially in the same role, he's just been given a much larger task force with which to do it, and he exerts his authority over them much more harshly. Of course there's also the personal element of him wanting to find this Luke Skywalker fellow who destroyed the Death Star, and the ESB opening crawl describes him as "obsessed" in this goal. So not only does he have the ability to exert more control in ESB, he now has the passion as well.
    That's not how an attack dog works, an attack dog works by being pointed by its master. In ANH, Vader has short tasks he's pointed to and does them, in ESB however he takes more of the leash himself and makes decisions, even counters his master's orders regarding the son of Skywalker.

    The film says he helps the Empire destroy the Jedi, not that he leads the Empire to destroy the Jedi, Obi-Wan really didn't make it seem like Vader was out there killing children and Jedi left and right, but that he collaborated.

    Vader kills Needa for a mistake that Vader himself made by sending the fleet into an asteroid field instead of blockading or bombing it, at best Vader could argue this is an extension of Ozzel's initial failure of tipping off the Rebel Alliance, but there's no reason Needa should have expected to be MURDERED for losing the Falcon.

    Anakin sucks at fighting in the prequels, he loses quite often from a confidence that seems to have no justification. He loses his arm to Dooku because of it. He loses the rest of his limbs to Obi-Wan because of it. He and Obi-Wan walk into a trap on the Invisible Hand. He and Padme get captured in the Geonosis droid factory. Hell, Anakin flat out sucks in the prequels - he's not an attack dog there, just a dog.

    Dang, I've run out of steam, oh well.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    Interesting idea, and while yes Tarkin did destroy a planet and attempt to destroy a second without direct word from his boss, I never got the feeling that Tarkin was so vital to the Imperial Navy that his absence tore it apart, what leads you to think that (you don't need to cite hard evidence since you already explained that it was more from the gut, but gut feelings often have a trail of soft evidence too).
    All I've really got is that in ANH, the Imperials seem like a very capable enemy. By the time of ROTJ, the Imperials seemed more like bungling idiots than a coherent fighting force. Perhaps Tarkin's importance wasn't necessarily so much to the Imperial Navy as it was to help keeping Vader in check. I suppose you could say that without Tarkin to keep Vader in check, he let his obsession with finding Luke get in the way of his better judgement, which led him to doing things like executing officers and smashing the Imperial fleet into an asteroid field. You could also maybe say that because Vader kept executing officers, by the time of ROTJ the officers were of much lesser quality which led to their diminished fighting abilities.

    When ANH came out, of course, everyone thought Vader was a cool bad guy. But I also thought that Tarkin was a pretty cool bad guy as well. I think this is a case of me just inventing a backstory for a character that I liked.

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