Anyone with a passing knowledge of Star Wars knows the four words Darth Vader spoke to Luke Skywalker at the climax of The Empire Strikes Back – “I am your father.” It’s a twist so shocking that it altered the trajectory of the story entirely, and the revelation is a high the series has chased ever since.
George Lucas has retroactively attempted to dub the first six Star Wars films “the Tragedy of Darth Vader” and position Anakin as the series’ true protagonist. However, this implies that Vader and Luke’s connection was planned from the start, which is demonstrably false. As late as Leigh Brackett’s original draft for Empire, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are different people. The twist may be a brilliant retcon, but it is a retcon, and watching the original Star Wars, it’s clear some things just don’t add up.
7 It Turned Obi-Wan Into A Liar
The most obvious complication with the twist is that it retroactively makes Obi-Wan Kenobi into an unreliable expositor – a liar even, despite his noble intentions. He claims that Luke’s father was his friend and brother-in-arms as a fellow Jedi Knight – that much is true.
When Luke asks how his father died, Obi-Wan tells him that his own apprentice, Darth Vader, was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force and killed Luke’s father. Not a total lie, but one key detail – that Vader is Luke’s father is absent. Obi-Wan’s spirit in Return of the Jedi tells Luke that this story is true “from a certain point of view,” that view being that Anakin is irredeemable, replaced by the monster of Vader. Luke reacts incredulously, as many viewers must have as well.
6 Luke’s Father Wanted His Son To Have His Lightsaber – Or Did He?
Another stray bit of dialogue from Obi-Wan’s exposition in Star Wars which produced some complications is when he introduces the Lightsaber. According to Obi-Wan, Luke’s father wanted Luke to have his Lightsaber when he came of age. Considering that Luke’s father was already turned to the Dark Side by the time Luke was born, some doubt is already cast on the veracity of this statement.
The Prequel Trilogy muddled this further. For one, Anakin never says anything remotely close to wanting his child to inherit his Lightsaber. The prequels also introduced the idea that Jedi were forbidden from familial attachments, so he definitely wouldn’t have told Obi-Wan this. Unlike the other lie, there’s no other “point of view” here, besides maybe some of Obi-Wan’s wishful thinking about how he wanted Anakin’s life to turn out.
5 Is “Darth” A Name Or A Title?
One of the most obvious inconsistencies is that in Star Wars, Darth Vader was never intended to be anything more than what he appeared to be is in his duel with Obi-Wan. Twice, the aged Jedi calls his old pupil by the name “Darth,” as if Darth is the Sith’s given name. Later material proves this not to be true. Aside from Vader’s birth name being Anakin Skywalker, “Darth” has been re-established as a title (a portmanteau for “Dark Lord of the Sith”) bestowed upon all Sith Lords.
4 Vader Doesn’t Sense Luke On The Death Star
In Star Wars as written and shot, Skywalker and Vader have no connection beyond the latter being the murderer of Luke’s father and, later, mentor. The two don’t even directly confront each other during the film.
This isn’t a problem for Star Wars itself. However, if one views the film as merely a chapter in a larger story, it’s a bit odd that the Force alerts Vader to Obi-Wan’s presence on the Death Star, but not his own son. Vader only senses Luke later during the trench run, and his only remark then is “the Force is strong with this one.” Just one more example of how Star Wars actually makes more sense if viewed in a vacuum, with no future twists in mind.
3 He Doesn’t Sense Leia, Either
Once Lucas decided to make Star Wars a trilogy, he needed to wrap up the lingering thread of “the Other.” Rather than introduce a new character out-of-the-blue, he made Leia into Luke’s twin sister. This twist, in conception and execution alike, is good deal more clunky than Luke & Vader’s connection. It’s odd that despite Vader holding Leia in captivity in both of the previous films, he either never sensed any familiarity with her or, more simply, saw a resemblance to his late wife in her.
2 Is “Uncle” Owen An Uncle At All?
Luke calls his guardians Owen & Beru by “Uncle” and “Aunt.” Since they both express familiarity with Luke’s father, it’d be easy to interpret Owen as simply Anakin’s brother. However, Anakin’s true nature raised the question of why Luke would be left with his biological family.
The Return of the Jedi novelization posited that Owen had in fact been Obi-Wan’s brother, but this was discarded in Attack of the Clones. That film clumsily retconned Owen into Anakin’s stepbrother, one whom he barely knew. The entire subplot reeks of Lucas forgetting to put Owen in The Phantom Menace then having to compensate.
1 Tarkin Knows Obi-Wan And Vader’s History
Since Star Wars was written without Darth Vader having any sort of secret identity, an exchange between him and Tarkin comes off as bizarre in retrospect. In said exchange, Vader informs Tarkin that Obi-Wan is aboard the Death Star and refers to the Jedi as “my old master.” Tarkin in turn acknowledges Vader as a former Jedi, describing the Dark Lord as “all that’s left of [the Jedi’s] religion.”
While later material indicates that Tarkin had discovered Vader to be Anakin, in this scene, it’s Vader who offers information about his old life. This is at odds with later media for any number of reasons, the most obvious being that Vader himself prefers to think of his old self as a different person.
NEXT: Star Wars: 10 Ways The Emperor Has Changed Since Empire Strikes Back
MCU: 10 Best Characters Introduced In Shang-Chi
About The Author