Sure, Darth Vader Force-choked his share of co-workers and those who stood in the way of the Empire's quest for total domination in "Star Wars," but was he really 100 percent a villain or more of a powerful pawn caught in the middle of an intergalactic chess match started thousands of years before between the Jedi and the Sith?
In fact, Vader did eventually fulfill "the prophecy" at the end of "Return of the Jedi" and brought balance back to the Force by killing the evil Emperor and saving his son, Luke. It may have taken him 30 years, but he went back to the man he was before the mask, Anakin Skywalker, and actually may have uncovered what was wrong for both the Sith and the Jedi in the process.
The contention here isn't that Vader was a saint, not even close, just that the Jedi and the Sith were as culpable for his nefarious actions and the war that waged throughout the "galaxy far, far away" in these films.
Now, before the internet revolts against this theory, let's look at the facts:
A new direction
Heading into December's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," which is the second film in the brand new trilogy, there's potentially a different view on the Jedi, even from the iconic Luke Skywalker. They may not be seen as the squeaky-clean heroes they were always thought to be.
Even in the first trailer for "Last Jedi," Luke (Mark Hamill) says "It's time for the Jedi to end." That could have so many meanings and is just part of a 2-minute teaser clip, but it vibes with what the internet has been buzzing about since "Star Wars" returned in 2015 with "The Force Awakens."
In that film, it was revealed that the new "Emperor-like" character Snoke is neither Jedi nor Sith, and the same goes for his apprentice, Kylo Ren. Why, aren't you supposed to be light or dark?
Well (and this is about to get really inside baseball), there are rumors and some of the footage from the first trailer that indicates we might find out more about the original Jedi, who date back thousands of years, in this new film. They were neither light nor dark, and considered balance in the Force to be very different from what we saw in the first six films.
Also, it seems as if Luke, who may have learned why his father turned to the Dark Side in the first place and then trained himself as a Jedi, might be having second thoughts about anyone, Jedi or not, being completely good or evil. There are shades of gray and if you take that out of life, well, you eventually get Darth Vader.
Let's back things up a bit to before Luke was born and focus on Darth's journey in the prequels.
Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) was taught by the Jedi that attachments and emotion were not the way of their kind. They were peacekeepers who could not marry and could not have children. They had a greater calling, protecting the galaxy from those who only aim to rule.
That's nice in sentiment, but things didn't exactly go that way and young Skywalker noticed.
First, he married Padme (Natalie Portman) in secret, then found out she was having his children. He also had dreams of her dying in childbirth, so he pursued a means to save his love and his unborn babies. He was unable to do so, per the Jedi code and advice from Master Yoda, but at the same time, one of his masters told him to spy on his friend. Anyone see the issue here?
Later on, when Anakin himself goes to tell Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) that his close friend and mentor, the Emperor, was the evil Sith Lord they had been searching for, he sees Mace make a snap judgement to kill him, not take him to justice and have him stand trial, because "he's too powerful to be kept alive."
So, Anakin snaps, takes Windu down and pledges his allegiance to the Emperor. He did a few things that were questionable later on (cough, cough, killing younglings), but it was all in the name of love.
In no way were the Jedi acting fully unbiased either per their teachings and he knew it. He may have been manipulated by Palpatine, but what he saw his fellow Jedi doing didn't help matters much. He chose what he thought was the lesser of two evils.
"Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!" Obi-Wan tells him in their great battle on Mustafar -- the same battle in which Obi-Wan ends of cutting off all his limbs and leaving him to burn.
"From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!" Anakin replies.
Return of the Jedi
Now let's look at Luke's journey and how things come to a close in "Return of the Jedi."
In the films leading up to "Jedi," Luke was misled about what happened to his father, then told not to save his friends, because he needs to keep training with Yoda. Basically, "Let them die, you have to practice your lightsaber skills."
By the time he battles his father, now Darth, and defeats him, he again refuses to kill him or let him die and take his place next to the Emperor, per the Sith code. Then, the Emperor attempts to kill Luke, and that's when Darth springs into action.
Instead of watching his enemy (his son) die, he intervenes and ignores both the Sith and Jedi teachings and follows his heart. He kills his master, killing himself in the process and saves his boy.
So to recap, for love, which was outlawed by the Jedi code, Darth Vader returned balance to the Force and the Galaxy and possibly created a template for a new way of life -- neither Sith nor Jedi, but gray.
It's like what Kylo Ren said in "The Force Awakens" when looking at Darth's melted mask, "I will finish what you started, grandfather."
Ren is the son of Han Solo and General Leia and rebelled as well against the Jedi teachings, leaving Luke's new academy and trying to stamp out the Jedi once and for all.
Wait, but then he killed his own dad. Never mind, he's definitely a bad guy. Or is he? Only time will tell.
"The Last Jedi" opens in theaters on Dec. 15.
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