In this edition of Star Wars Insights I thought I would take a brief look at an issue that seems to be bugging people since the release of Rogue One: Why was Vader so slow during his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope compared to the version of Vader we see in Rogue One...
Since the release of Rogue One many people have been troubled by the apparent difference between the Darth Vader we seen in the closing moments of that movie and the one we original met in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope back in 1977. The biggest sticking point appears to be the aggression we see from Vader as he cuts down Rebel Troops in order to get to the Tantive IV IV and secure those stolen plans, and why exactly we didn't see that aggression when he faced his former master, the man who put him in that suit, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Lets get into this...
Is it an oversight? Possibly. Could it be that we would all be complaining if Darth Vader was used in Rogue One as this walking, talking man in black who didn't do much more than growl at people. hell yes, we would have complained. We wanted to see the Darth Vader who scares the Sith out of people as he wades through troops with his scarlet red blade swinging back and forth. So why didn't he bring his A game when he faced off with Kenobi during the events of A New Hope?
The solution may be simpler than you think...
When Obi-Wan Kenobi set off to disable the tractor beam on the Death Star, he knows he will never leave the station again. Look at how he says goodbye to Luke. He knows his path lay along a different path. He says it himself. We now know that Obi-Wan has spent years learning how to become one with the Force, to retain his identity after death. We witness Obi-Wan pushing through barriers as he meditates in his home on Tatooine, in last years Ahsoka novel. So when Old Ben heads into the bowels of the Death Star he knows a couple of things to be true.
A. He will not be leaving.
B. He will continue to train Luke after his death through the training his has been doing with Qui-Gon and Yoda whilst in exile.
When Darth Vader first realises that Obi-Wan is on the Death Star, he must too realise that there is no way the Jedi is getting away. In fact the only way the Han, Luke, Leia and the Millennium Falcon escape is because they are allowed to do so. It's Tarkin's plan to allow the Falcon to reach Yavin IV so he can follow them there and destroy the Rebellion once and for all. So Vader knows Obi-Wan isn't planning to leave. Which is why he is just standing there, in the corridor then his former master rounds the corner.
If Obi-Wan still represented a threat to Darth Vader, to the Empire and what the Death Star represented, Darth Vader would have conducted a full scale assault on the old man right here. He would have had a full compliment of troops with him and launched and attack on Kenobi, similar to the one he launches against Luke in Cloud City in the next film. But here, he simply stands calmly awaiting Obi-Wan. Both men know this is it; their final encounter.
Had the Vader we see in the closing moments of Rogue One been used here, Obi-Wan would have been a bloody stain on the wall in seconds. But Vader didn't need to bring his A game. Obi-Wan was there, not to bring down Vader and destroy the Death Star, but for another more important reason.
A reason Darth Vader doesn't understand.
At this point Darth Vader has no idea how vital this moment will be in creating the Luke Skywalker that will go on to destroy the Death Star, The Emperor and redeem Anakin Skywalker. Had he been able to see the bigger picture, he would have realised how well Obi-Wan played his hand. Check out the image below.
This is Obi-Wan seconds before he raises his lightsaber and chooses to become one with the Force. Here he sees young Luke watching the duel and knows if Luke witnesses Darth Vader strike down the venerable Jedi, it will galvanise young Luke and set him on his path toward bemoaning a Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan is becoming a martyr at this moment. Mere seconds after Ben is struck down we hear his disembodied voice say, "run Luke, run..." and we know that there was more to the Jedi than we had originally thought. This was the real threat Obi-Wan represented to Darth Vader. The example he set for the next generation. A threat Vader failed to understand.
So I would suggest that we didn't see the aggressive "Rogue One Vader" in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope because Darth Vader was over confident and simply didn't understand what Obi-Wan had committed himself to. Didn't understand what was really at stake here. He underestimated Obi-Wan Kenobi.
So in summary, Vader didn't need to bring his A game on the Death Star. Obi-Wan wasn't trying to escape and he was intentionally allowing the Falcon tiger away. So complaints that its a different Vader, are really complaints that it he had a different agenda.
Thank you for reading,