Star Wars

Who Is Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader?


Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader. One Man. Two Names – During his lifetime, Anakin Skywalker was many things to many people. Son. Friend. Brother. Husband. Father. Sith. Stepbrother. Grandfather. Apprentice. Master. We know how his tragic tale from start to finish and how his grandson, Ben Solo, comes to worship the man in black.

With the Obi-Wan Kenobi series dropping in late May, we wanted to explore who Anakin and Darth Vader were in the years leading up to the events of the series. We will not be going into anything more profound than that. So, we’re not exploring Rogue One, the original trilogy, Star Wars Rebels or the books and comics that accompany them.

In this post, we’ll be explaining Anakin’s past, the decisions he was forced to live with and how his experiences shaped him. There are also multiple actors who have played the man inside the Darth Vader suit.

Warning! This post contains SPOILERS.

Slave Beginnings And The Jedi Rejection

Before he became Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker was born and raised on Tatooine by his single mother, Shmi. What made the boy unique was his conception was fatherless. He was talented in mechanics and was one of the few humans to be able to fly a Podracer. However, his skills as a pilot would be one of his most significant assets as he could fly just about any ship, including a heavily damaged star destroyer in the last year of the Clone Wars.

His time under the cruelty of Watto would not taint his kindness towards others. Anakin was pulled toward Padmé Amidala and Qui-Gon Jinn as they sought help to escape the planet. However, this is where his attachment to them would begin.

Anakin’s gifts as a human Podracer were on full display during the Boonta Eve Classic, which freed him from his slavemaster, Watto. However, it was not enough to free his mother. Selflessly, she encouraged him to go and live his dream of being a Jedi.

When Qui-Gon takes Anakin to the Jedi Temple, he is rejected by the Jedi Council because he is too old. Annoyed, Jinn relents that Skywalker is the Chosen One of prophecy. Yoda tells Anakin he can sense the darkness in him, with Ki-Adi-Mundi saying he [Anakin] misses his mother.

What’s more, is Qui-Gon’s insistence that Anakin is the Chosen One irks Obi-Wan. However, his view changes after Jinn dies at Darth Maul’s hand.

Anakin’s Close Bond With Padmé, Qui-Gon’s Death, And Friendship With Palpatine

During the trip to Coruscant, Anakin bonds with Padmé, believing her to be a handmaiden to the Queen of Naboo. Her kindness towards him is maternal and develops over time, which leads to an undeniable attraction in their adult years.

Anakin is surprised when he learns that Padmé IS the Queen of Naboo before the strike team starts their plan to stop the Separatists. What’s more, this doesn’t make him think any different of her. If anything, it makes him admire her more as he understood why she had to keep her identity a secret and why her decoy, Sabé, stepped in for her when needed.

Obi-Wan would never have taken Anakin as his student if it had not been for Qui-Gon’s untimely demise at the hands of Darth Maul. Anakin was present at Qui-Gon’s funeral, in which he asked Obi-Wan what would happen to him now that Jinn was gone.

Kenobi tells him that the Council will allow him to become a Jedi as it was Qui-Gon’s final wish.

After Qui-Gon’s death, Anakin becomes friendly with Sheev Palpatine, the former senator of Naboo and newly-minted Chancellor. This relationship will shape Anakin into the man he will become.

Apprentice Under Obi-Wan

In the ten years that pass, Anakin challenges Obi-Wan in more ways than the inexperienced Jedi Knight could’ve imagined. Finally, he understands the pressures he put Qui-Gon under during his training.

Kenobi and Skywalker might’ve clashed, but Obi-Wan became like a father figure to Anakin when he was younger, taking the place Qui-Gon would’ve filled had he lived.

Unbeknownst to Obi-Wan, Anakin felt smothered and believed his master was holding him back. If anything, Kenobi was wary of what his student could do more than anything. However, their bond would shift from father-son to brothers throughout the Clone Wars.

Anakin often had to save Obi-Wan rather than the opposite.

Despite the closeness between the two Jedi, Anakin didn’t tell him everything and often held things back. Ultimately, this would include the young Jedi’s secret marriage to Padmé after the opening battle of the Clone Wars.

Reunion With Padmé, Meeting The Lars Family And Shmi’s Death

Upon an assassination attempt on Padmé’s life, Anakin and Obi-Wan are tasked with protecting her. They have not seen each other in ten years, though neither is far from the other’s thoughts. While Obi-Wan investigates why there was a hit out on the senator, Skywalker guards her. He escorts her back to Naboo, where their attraction starts to blossom.

Despite any form of attachment being forbidden, they embark on a secret romance. While the pair attempt to keep themselves in check, their flirtations are pushed aside when Anakin cannot control his visions of his mother. Returning to Tatooine to find Shmi, Anakin and Padmé are told by Watto that Shmi is no longer in his possession. However, he gives them a name of where to find her; Lars.

The pair and R2-D2 travel to the Lars Homestead. Moreover, this is where they meet Cliegg Lars, his son Owen, and Owen’s partner, Beru. Anakin and Padmé learn that Cliegg and Shmi married after he freed her from Watto. They’re told that Tusken Raiders had kidnapped Skywalker’s mother and that they fear the worse.

Not wanting to give up on his mother, Anakin sets out to find her, leaving Padmé under the care of his stepfamily. Eventually, he finds Shmi, but she’s not in a good way. The Tuskens have tortured her to the point where she was almost unrecognisable.

Shmi’s one wish to was to be reunited with her son, and she is before she dies in his arms. Anakin, in a state of shock, slaughters the Tusken Raiders, including the women and children.

Anakin returns to the Lars Homestead with his mother’s body and says his final goodbyes to her. After her burial, he breaks down, confessing to Padmé what he had done.

Saving Obi-Wan, The Clone Wars Begin And Secret Wedding

Upon returning to the ship, Anakin and Padmé play a message back from Obi-Wan revealing he’s on Geonosis. Anakin contacts the Council and is told to stay on Tatooine as it’s safer there for the senator.

Padmé manages to persuade him that the Jedi won’t get to Obi-Wan on time and that they’re closer to Geonosis. Anakin tells her that he’s giving up trying to argue with her. As the pair fight their way through the droid factory, they get captured themselves. Oh, and Anakin loses his lightsaber for the second and final time as it gets destroyed.

The pair are sentenced to death and pulled out into the Geonosian arena, but not before Padmé finally lets her walls down. She confesses that she’s in love with him.

It doesn’t take long for the couple and Obi-Wan to free themselves and fight back against their captors. It gives them enough time for the Jedi to arrive with the clone troopers.

During the chase for Dooku, Padmé is thrown from the ship, prompting Anakin to panic. Obi-Wan stops his apprentice from jumping out after her, leading to them catching Dooku. However, Anakin loses an arm to the Sith Lord during the fight and Obi-Wan is severely injured.

Anakin and Padmé return to Naboo, where they secretly marry, with C-3PO and R2-D2 as the only witnesses.

Knighthood, Ahsoka, And The Return To Tatooine

Sometime after marrying Padmé, Anakin returns to Coruscant, where he is knighted and sent to Christophsis with Obi-Wan. During a conversation with his former master, Skywalker expresses the desire never to have a Padawan. Kenobi and Yoda agreed that if Anakin were to let go of his attachment issue, he would have to let someone go.

They came up with the idea to assign him a student. First, though, they decide to pass it off as Obi-Wan getting a new Padawan. The student shows up to relay a message from Yoda, knowing that her master is Anakin, not Kenobi. Though, she is unaware of what Obi-Wan and Yoda are doing.

After a short skirmish, proper introductions go around with the bomb being dropped on Anakin that the girl, Ahsoka, is his Padawan, not Obi-Wan’s. The new Master-Padawan duo are then sent to Teth to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s infant son, Rotta.

Anakin’s experience with the Hutts is a sore spot, and he distances himself from the little hut. However, Ahsoka is oblivious to her master’s past. She says that returning to Tatooine must be like going home for her master, which he relents and says that was.

Once they reach Tatooine, Anakin sends Ahsoka to Jabba’s palace with Rotta while he stops Dooku. However, Magnaguards appear and cut off Ahsoka and Rotta’s path. Ahsoka does her best to fight back while protecting the little Hutt.

Anakin reaches Jabba’s palace only to discover that Ahsoka and Rotta haven’t arrived. So he threatens the Hutt crimelord, only for his student and the baby to arrive moments later.

The Clone Wars And Ahsoka’s Departure

Anakin’s skills as a leader grew as time went on. He even came to appreciate Ahsoka and often had to be saved from his own stupidity. His relationship with Obi-Wan also strengthens their brotherhood.

Whenever Padmé became involved, Anakin would drop mission protocols to keep her safe, which raised eyebrows. Unbeknownst to Skywalker, Ahsoka found out about him and Padmé but opted to keep what she knew to herself.

During this time, Palpatine started to push his plan to corrupt Anakin to the Dark Side. Then, slowly but surely, the pieces began to fall into place. Not to mention, Skywalker became forced to face parts of himself he never wanted to expose. His jealousy of Rush Clovis, an ex-boyfriend of Padmé’s, was just one example, which nearly ended his marriage as his wife became terrified of him.

The pieces continued to fall when he faced slavers again, but on a different planet. Not to mention, Anakin had to keep his temper in check most of the time. Especially when it came to enemies like Dooku, who were constantly taunting him.

When Ahsoka was arrested and tried for a terrorist plot she didn’t have any part in, Anakin was the only Jedi to defend her publicly. Knowing his young friend was in serious trouble, Skywalker recruited Padmé as her legal defence as he knew of the pair’s close friendship. This gives him enough time to find the true culprit. So much so, he even unwillingly joined forces with former Sith assassin Asajj Ventress who had also been framed for the bombing.

After Barriss Offee is revealed as the actual terrorist, Ahsoka was released, but it came at a cost. With her faith shaken in the Jedi Order, Ahsoka left the Order, leaving an Ahsoka-shaped hole in Anakin’s heart.

Shaken Faith

Ahsoka’s departure rattles Anakin’s faith in the Jedi Order. He is later reunited with her, but not the way he expects. Instead, she is more serious and only there because he and the 501st require help. Wanting her to know that she can always trust him, he returns her lightsabers, but with a twist. He’s changed the Kyber crystals to match his. Also, he issues her a small squadron of clones, taken from the main 501st for her usage. Their loyalty is to her. To show it, they paint their helmets to resemble her face markings. Among them is Rex, who will lead the group as he does with the 501st. However, with the Captain turned to Commander with Ahsoka, his place as Commander Appo takes on the role of leader.

Sometime later, Anakin and Obi-Wan receive a call that Chancellor Palpatine has been kidnapped. Ahsoka is sent to Mandalore to deal with Maul. The trio depart as friends for the final time.

Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive on the Invisible Hand, the flagship of General Grievous and find the Chancellor handcuffed to a chair. The two Jedi engage Dooku in combat before Palpatine orders Skywalker to kill Dooku. The Chosen One is reluctant to do so and completes the task with the Chancellor telling him that the Sith Lord was too dangerous to be kept alive. Grievous escapes and ends up hiding on Utapau.

Padmé Amidala’s Pregnancy And Anakin Skywalker Becomes Darth Vader

Upon returning to Coruscant, Anakin reunites with his wife, who informs him she’s pregnant with their first child. But unfortunately, the joy is short-lived as Skywalker starts to experience nightmares of Padmé’s death with the fate of their child being unknown.

Palpatine continues working on Anakin to get him to relent to the dark Side. He exposes himself as the Sith Lord after revealing he knows how to save Padmé. Skywalker goes to the Council with what he knows but changes his mind. He accidentally contributes to the death of Mace Windu in his attempt to stop him from killing Palpatine.

Realising that the Sith Lord is his only path to saving his wife, Anakin Skywalker gives in to the Dark Side and is christened Darth Vader. Sidious tasks him with killing the Jedi at the Temple and using the 501st. It’s in the moment after Vader leaves the office that Order 66 officially begins and starts the termination of the Jedi Order.

On Mandalore, Ahsoka senses a darkness fall but is left unaware that what she felt was Anakin’s fall to the darkness.

Worries For The Future And Obi-Wan Discovers The Truth

Keeping his newfound allegiance a secret, Anakin returns to Padmé to see if she and the baby are okay. He tells her that everything will be fine, and Palpatine is sending him to Mustafar. However, he doesn’t tell her that he’s being sent to assassinate the Separatist leaders.

The next day, Obi-Wan arrives at the apartment looking for Anakin. Instead, Padmé lies and says she doesn’t know where her husband is. At this moment, he knows that his former student has turned to the Dark Side, having watched the security footage of the slaughter at the Temple with Master Yoda.

Devastated by his brother’s fall to the Dark Side, Obi-Wan tells Padmé what he knows, including that Palpatine was the Sith Lord the Republic had been hunting for years. The shock of her husband’s betrayal hits the senator for six. As Obi-Wan gets up to leave, he asks if Anakin is the father of her unborn child. Her silence is the only answer he needs.

Padmé, desperate to find out if Obi-Wan is correct, heads to Mustafar with only 3PO, leaving Captain Typho to insist he go with her. She refuses, saying the droid will be all she needs.

Anakin Skywalker Is Truly Gone, And The Fateful Blow That Pushes Him To Grasp Being Darth Vader

Anakin’s slaughter of the Separatist leaders is interrupted by Padmé’s arrival. Hurrying to meet her, Skywalker attempts to persuade her to join him, but she refuses, realising Obi-Wan is right. Vader’s anger reaches boiling point when his former master appears on the ramp. Convinced she’s joined with the enemy, the new Sith apprentice force chokes the senator into unconsciousness.

Obi-Wan checks on Padmé, seeing she’s still alive. He then engages Anakin in a lightsaber duel that will decide their fates. The fight continues across the volcanic atmosphere of Mustafar. Finally, Kenobi reaches the high ground, and Anakin, in his overconfidence, goes to finish off his former friend but is cut down, losing his remaining organic limbs.

Kenobi leaves him to die and takes his lightsaber, which will end up being used by Skywalker’s son many years later.

Palpatine arrives with clone medics, and they get Vader medical treatment. At the same time, Padmé gives birth to fraternal twins, Luke and Leia. As Vader is finally encased in his black torture chamber of a suit, Padmé dies, but not before telling Obi-Wan she believes there is still good in her husband.

Back at the medical facility housing, Vader asks about his wife. Palpatine says that she’s dead. He lets out a horrid scream, breaking everything in the room while Sidious smiles in glee that he finally has ensnared the Chosen One to be his forever slave.

The Next Ten Years

While we don’t know too much about what happens in screen media regarding Vader, there is stuff in the comics that we know happens that will be relevant to the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. However, we’re not going to cover most of that. But we will review what happens with some things referenced in Star Wars Rebels.

Vader becomes the leader of the Inquisitorius, a group of Jedi Hunters who were once Jedi.

Actor Hayden Christensen who returns to play Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan series told Entertainment Weekly that Vader would be insanely powerful in the show. However, that was all he could share. He skirted around the question, which asked whether we’d see Vader without the helmet.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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