Matter Of Perspective: Star Wars The Force Unleashed

Darth Vader is perhaps considered one of, if not the king of, cinema’s greatest villains of all time. From the foreboding presence amplified by that helmet, the black cape and suit, and the breathing to his great control of the Force, Vader is the Dark Side personified. Yet one part of his character isn’t discussed as much, and that is his want to be a father to his son, Luke. This huge, foreboding presence has inside a small core of love that the Dark Side hasn’t been able to break, and that is explored in The Force Unleashed.

Vader already knows he has children out in the galaxy but the time isn’t right for him to announce that fact, and hides any of those feelings behind the mask successfully. That is until the fateful day he descends on  Kashyyyk, the Wookie homeworld, to hunt a Jedi who escaped Palpatine’s purge. During this conflict Vader senses the presence of another force wielder besides the one he went to kill, and discovers the child Starkiller. We already know Vader has no qualms killing children thanks to that scene where he wipes out the Jedi younglings in Revenge Of The Sith, but something stops him killing Starkiller and instead smuggles him back to base.

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Why does Vader do this then, instead of wiping out a potential threat early? It’s because his own son would be around the same age, and since Vader doesn’t know where he is Starkiller becomes his adopted son. Of course this isn’t solely an altruistic move on Vader’s part, as to him Starkiller is also a tool to use in the hunt for the Jedi. However at the core of it Starkiller is his opportunity to pass on his own lessons, and to be a father.

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There’s a reason why Vader keeps Starkiller a secret for so long from the Emperor, and that is to protect the both of them. He raised and teaches Starkiller in secret, training him to use the Force and to become a powerful force in his own right. If the Emperor finds out about his existence then not only does Starkiller lose his life, but Vader loses his adopted son, someone he has raised for years, nurturing him to be like him. Vader thinks he can do this forever, but this isn’t the case and soon the Emperor finds out.

When that happens Vader is met with a choice, obey or rebel. Of course Vader obeys but this isn’t the submission of a man scared of the Emperor, but of a person who has already planned for this contingency. Vader kills then retrieves Starkiller but this move is all for his selfish gain as he motivates Starkiller to start the rebellion and build the Rebel Alliance. To Vader this is the perfect ploy to both continue to use Starkiller, and to create a thorn in the Emperor’s side and weaken him.

Darth Vader’s secret is out so what better way to use Starkiller than to start a new war and shoulder very little of the blame. Vader acts like he doesn’t know how this rebellion starts or why Starkiller turned. Darth Vader shows his tactical genius and also shows that he doesn’t agree with the way the Empire is being handled. Then again the true sign someone has fully turned to the Dark Side is when they kill their master.

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However, the fact Vader doesn’t try to deal the final blow himself is possibly another example of the fact that he hasn’t truly lost the good inside him at this point either. It’s a weird concept because if he is good he would have killed the Emperor anyway and freed the Empire, but by not killing him he also doesn’t technically ascend to Sith Master. Of course this is countered by the other darker things he does within the game like have Juno, Starkiller’s pilot and love interest taken captive and possibly tortured because she knows too much, and also as a power play to show his apprentice who is in charge.

Starkiller himself falls for this play because Vader is basically his father who he trusts, even though he has many misgivings. But he gets to a point to where he decides to actually fight back and turn against the Empire, but it’s far too late. Starkiller has been on the Dark Side for too long that his exposure to the light is so brief that he doesn’t have a truly coherent plan. His whole perceptive is shattered within a few short days and he can’t cope so turns to the one thing he is good at to try and solve his problems; murder.

In his broken state Starkiller doesn’t have full control of his skills either, the conflicting emotions running through him are tearing his own control of the Force apart. He only sees the deaths of the Emperor and Vader in his mind, letting his hate consume him. He is a Sith struggling to become a Jedi and can’t handle the transition, so he goes to fight and dies as a result. He dies full of hate with loathing for his father and the Emperor. This is the worst death for him because Vader wins in more ways than one.

He made sure Starkiller died a Sith.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m afraid there are quite a few points I disagree with here. Firstly in that Vader has no idea that he has children in the galaxy, as far as he knows his child died with Padme following the events in Revenge of the Sith (Vader’s surprise at discovering Luke has a twin sister when sensing his feelings during their fight in Return of the Jedi also suggests he was unaware Padme was pregnant with twins, though admittedly this seems strange as a Jedi would have been able to sense them).

    His reason for keeping Starkiller alive was purely was purely due to the reason that Vader saw such potential in him through his incredible strength in the Force (shown by being able to pull Vader’s lightsaber out of his grip at such a young age). He plans to use this potential to overthrow the Emperor, something that he himself is now unable to do alone due to his injuries and the restrictions his suit gives him (his mechanics make him particularly vulnerable to Force lightning).

    I would very much disagree that Vader was displaying any sort of paternal behaviour, and he sees Starkiller as simply a tool to use, shown by his willingness to betray him when it suits his present needs, and then ultimately use him in the plan concocted by the Emperor to expose the rebellious members of the Imperial Senate.

    My biggest disagreement though is the Starkiller died a Sith. Vader’s final betrayal on Corellia where the rebel senators are captured allows Starkiller to finally open himself up to the light side of the Force, following the subtle teachings of Rahm Kota, the vision of his real father in the hut on Kashyyyk, the meeting with Princess Leia and his feelings for Juno.

    In the canonical ending of the game, Starkiller forgoes his hatred of Vader who is at his mercy to save his friends, and even chooses to spare the Emperor lest he strike him down in anger. His death ultimately is a sacrifice to save the people he cares about, and I would argue that he is in full control of his powers as he is able to hold back at resist the blunt force attack of the Emperor’s Force lightning for so long, something even Yoda couldn’t do. He ultimately proves himself free of the Emperor and Vader’s control, and dies very much a Jedi.

    • 1) My mistake about Vader’s child knowledge. Whoops!

      2) Regarding your view I didn’t think of it like that and this is why I like writing this because it brings out different views. I came to my conclusion because my thinking was that his hate for the Emperor allowed him to withstand so much before dying. However I can see your reasoning too and that’s hard to argue against.

      • Admittedly I’m in a rather weighted position having also read the novel of the game, and therefore I’m adding certain statements based on that (plus I’m a massive Star Wars nerd!). As you said, these articles are great as they give us a chance to discuss our different opinions on such matters, and it is interesting to see how else the story could be perceived. A shame that the second game was a let down in term of how they continued Starkiller’s story, and more so that the cliffhanger at the end of it will be left unexplored.

        I do realise I neglected to mention how well put across the article is, so my apologies for that! Reading it back it seems I come across overly blunt!

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