Earlier today, learned, all-around Deadspin guy Albert Burneko wrote at length how the new Star Wars movies might not be very good. His piece, which I recommend, compared impressions from the trailer versus a general dismay with the prequels and Return of the Jedi. Along with some mostly reasonable points, there are lauds for Darth Vader as one of the great terrors in film history. This is a patent untruth.
The reality is, even confined to Episodes IV and V, Darth Vader was not a great cinematic terror. He was, in fact, a bitch.
1) His boss makes Vader call him “Master.”
He even gets down on one knee to do it! Notwithstanding his job in the empire is basically to be the second most powerful person in the galaxy, he has no independence to pursue his own aims. Instead, he’s shackled to the whims of a goblin-looking methane hallucination. But still, you say, Vader was powerful and carved a trail of badassery and destruction across the galaxy? This couldn’t be more wrong, as it flies in the face of the fact that
2) He was terrible at his job.
This is a no-brainer. Episode IV begins with him bungling return of the Death Star plans, the Emperor’s super-expensive new mega-weapon, killing some schlub in the middle of a question. Then, he can’t learn the whereabouts of the rebel base, so he straight-up sends the Death Star schematics to the rebels to learn the location of the base in an ungodly for-the-ages CYA move. The general in charge of Death Star doesn’t even think it’s a good idea, calling it “an awful risk.” Here, using totally unwarranted latitude (superseding a general, acting without consulting the Emperor, employing cavalier practices regarding trade secrets), he completely fucks the dog and gets the Death Star blown to hell. And what for? Because he couldn’t own his mistake. Guhhhhh.
3) He’s a Universal Recipient for Everyone’s Shit
The war counsel on the Death Star bitches Vader out to his face, calling him incompetent, and all Vader can do is get violent. Admirals on Star Destroyers straight up ignore his orders. He can’t find Han Solo (surprise surprise) and resorts to calling bounty hunters onto the holodeck or whatever, and they proceed to shit all over imperial decorum. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t care enough about Vader to fight him, he actually lets himself be killed rather than deal with Vader any more. “Fuck this guy,” Kenobi can be heard saying from a pile of his former robes.
In conclusion, Darth Vader was not the one of the great terrors in film history. He was a bitch.