Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.
Darth Vader's Battle Record in Star Wars
Darth Vader is hailed as one of the galaxy's most fearsome warriors; with his crimson saber, intimidating black armor, and brutal Force powers, he's certainly a formidable warrior. Yet despite his strength, he's far from invincible, having been bested multiple times in both the canon and legends timelines.
To be clear, nothing from Vader's time as Anakin Skywalker counts; here are 10 characters who managed to best the Dark Lord of the Sith in combat! Spoilers ahead.
10. Han Solo (Via Space Combat)
Really, its thanks to Han's intervention in the climax of Episode 4 that the Rebellion succeeded in destroying the Death Star; without his firing on Vader's henchmen, they wouldn't have panicked and prevented Vader from destroying Luke's X-wing.
But even if you don't count that incident, Han once again got the jump on Vader, this time with a direct strike to the back of his TIE Advanced, in a canon comic (Star Wars 2015 #36) set not long after A New Hope, with Han quipping "shooting Vader in the back never gets old." To be fair, both incidents involved surprise attacks, but considering Vader's piloting prowess, out-flying him is no easy feat.
9. Moff Tarkin (Aided by Soldiers)
Vader cashed in on a favor Moff Tarkin owed by asking the Imperial leader to hunt him as a personal test. Aided by a small group of armed soldiers, Tarkin pursued Vader for multiple days.
Tarkin may be ruthless, but he's no fool, cleverly determining Vader's Force range, developing strategies to distract him, and even (perhaps unintentionally) playing on Vader's fear of fire (a leftover from Mustafar) with flamethrowers. By the end of the hunt, Vader had killed Tarkin's men and almost bested Tarkin himself, but Tarkin had maneuvered Vader into position of a lightning strike, a devious act that earned the Sith's respect.
8. Roblio Darté, Jastus Farr, and Koffi Arana
These three survivors of the Jedi Purge lured Vader into a trap by falsely implying they knew where Obi-Wan was hiding. Vader engages them in an intense battle, where (after he kills some of their comrades) they manage to subdue him.
Vader's story could well have ended there were it not for disagreements about what to do with him; some wanted to kill him, others believed it was against the Jedi path, and the resulting chaos allowed to the Chosen One to break free.
7. Boba Fett
Believe it or not, Boba Fett and Darth Vader have battled twice. First, in the eleventh issue of the legends comic Star Wars Tales, Fett and Vader engage in a much-awaited battle between Sith and bounty hunter, each wanting to be the one to capture Han Solo. Vader quickly gains the upper hand, but is caught off-guard when Fett reveals a lightsaber of his own, managing to stalemate Vader until the fight loses purpose after Han escapes.
More than that is their climatic duel within Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire #4. Here, Vader expertly deflects everything Boba tosses his way, but before Vader can kill Fett with the Force, Fett kicks an artifact Vader is seeking of a ledge. Forced to release Fett to save his treasure, Fett could have shot and killed Vader but elects not to, instead persuading the Sith that his bounty-hunting skills would prove useful to the Empire.
6. Emperor Palpatine
Vader/Anakin isn't dumb—he realizes after Revenge of the Sith how Darth Sidious has used him. So why doesn't he challenge the twisted Emperor? Well, the answer to that is complicated, but he actually does on occasion, and it never goes his way.
Soon after Vader's infamous "NOOOOO" scream, he (off-screen in a comic) attacks Sidious with the Force before being quickly overpowered. Any attack in the future would end similarly, with Vader's mechanical limits unable to overpower Palpatine's Force mastery. Plus, Vader has a critical weakness to electricity, which overloads his suit's breathing aids, and what is Sidious's favorite combat trick? Yep, Force Lightning.
5. Kirak Infil'a
Kirak is undoubtedly one of the coolest survivors of the Jedi Purge. He twice battles Vader, and in the first bout, undisputedly overwhelms the Dark Lord, sending him tumbling off a cliff. When Vader challenges the Jedi warrior again, the dark lord only wins by distracting Kirak via attacking innocents, forcing Kirak to break his battle concentration to save them.
In a story with questionable canonicity even within the legends timeline, the sole survivor of Anakin's attack on the Tusken Raiders in Attack of the Clones returns many years later, having honed his skills as a warrior. He fights and defeats Darth Vader, although this is largely due to Vader's exhaustion from a previous battle and the Tusken's surprise attack. Nonetheless, an impressive feat.
3. Galen Marek
Marek, often known by his codename Starkiller, was trained by Vader as a secret apprentice, presumably to overthrow Palpatine, though this was a ruse to craft Marek into his tool. Despite his relative youth, Marek's growing mastery of both light and dark allow him to eventually overcome Vader in The Force Unleashed.
Admittedly, this was in part Vader severely underestimating Marek, and the Sith performs better against Marek's clone in Force Unleashed 2. But a win's a win, and it's an impressive one for such a youthful combatant.
2. Luke Skywalker
Luke actually confronts Darth Vader multiple times, including several off-screen comic battles. And despite his relative lack of training, he fares surprisingly well against his father. In their climatic duel within Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back, a just-trained Luke is defeated but still manages to land a glancing blow on Vader.
With some experience under his belt, Luke soundly defeats Vader a year later in Return of the Jedi, even managing to redeem his father along the way.
1. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Of all today's characters, Anakin's own Jedi Master most notably conquered the newly-fallen Sith Lord at the height of his power, before his need for movement-restricting armor. In the intense battle at the climax of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan's defensive lightsaber form outlasts Anakin's aggressive style, causing the fallen Jedi to take unnecessary risks that leads to his demise.
Many years later, an aged Obi-Wan confronts a suited Vader on the Death Star; although this battle ends with Obi-Wan's voluntary death, it's interesting to debate who would have won had the fight continued...but that's a topic for another day.
Darth Vader's Legacy
We've now seen several characters who managed to beat Vader in battle, but usually with some sort of gimmick, whether that's attacking in a group, catching him off-guard, or exploiting the limitations of his armor.
Long after his death, Vader's tragic fall would contribute to his grandsons turning; Jacen Solo in legends and Ben Solo in canon. We'll examine them another day, but for now, share your thoughts on Vader's power and I'll see you at our next Star Wars countdown!
© 2021 Jeremy Gill