Most Impressive: Anakin Skywalker meets Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and is instantly in awe of the Jedi [in The Phantom Menace ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: Much as it’s easy to deride George Lucas’ judgement in introducing baby Vader as a cute/annoying moppet, there’s an undeniable frisson of dramatic irony when Anakin announces, “I had a dream I was a Jedi.”
Most Impressive: Vader and Emperor Palpatine discuss “the son of Skywalker,” with Vader concluding, “If he could be turned, he would be a powerful ally” [in The Empire Strikes Back ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: A reminder that there’s a strategic side to Vader to go with his terror tactics…although what’s really interesting is the psychology of Palpatine and Vader skirting around the fact that it’s Vader’s son they’re talking about.
Most Impressive: Palpatine tries to seduce Luke to the Dark Side, while Vader waits wordlessly until he is needed [in Return Of The Jedi ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: Even doing nothing, Vader has presence...and check out how quick he is to act when Luke fires up his lightsaber.
Vision Of The Future
Most Impressive: Anakin Skywalker sees a vision of his future as Vader in the Well of the Dark Side [in Clone Wars episode Ghosts Of Mortis ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: That future can’t be denied, but at this stage Anakin is nowhere near ready to face it…so the memory is handily erased.
Most Impressive: The Millennium Falcon’s hiding in an asteroid field, but what are a few flying rocks to a Dark Lord of the Sith? “I want that ship,” he thunders to Admiral Piett, “not excuses!” [in The Empire Strikes Back ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: As ever, Vader won’t flinch from danger in the pursuit of his foes. Just as well he’s in charge; the rest of his officers are a bunch of pussies.
Most Impressive: Vader visits Palpatine to seek time off work, so he can go and get Luke from Endor [in Return Of The Jedi ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: The sinister undertones of two dirty old men discussing the kid they want to corrupt. "I have felt him," boasts Vader. "Strange that I haven't," replies a visibly despondent Palpatine.
Most Impressive: Luke gains the advantage in his duel with Vader, and angrily hacks off Vader's arm [in Return Of The Jedi ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: An inevitable symmetry, seeing what happened in the last film. Except it isn't, because Luke has already lopped off a Vader limb in spin-off novel Splinter Of The Mind's Eye .
Most Impressive: In the aftermath of Order 66, Palpatine sends Vader on his first mission, to track and assassinate a trio of Jedi survivors [in novel Dark Lord: The Rise Of Darth Vader ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: Set immediately after Revenge Of The Sith , this novel charts Vader’s first footsteps in his new – and incredibly uncomfortable – armour.
Not From A Jedi
Most Impressive: Palpatine seduces Anakin into the Dark Side by telling the story of Darth Plagueis, who had the power to prevent death [in Revenge Of The Sith ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: Regardless of why Anakin chooses to go dark – love for his wife, or vengeance against the Jedi – the important thing is that he can’t get those powers from a Jedi.
No Mercy [Mission]
Most Impressive: Leia tries to bluff her way out of being taken prisoner, but Vader isn’t taken in by her BS about being on a mercy mission [in A New Hope ].
Why The Force Is Strong With This One: Vader’s first dialogue scene introduces one of cinema’s greatest voices – the grave, authoritative tones of James Earl Jones accompanied by death-rattle heavy breathing.