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Darth Vader, also known as Anakin Skywalker, is a fictional and central character in the Star Wars saga, appearing as the chief antagonist in the original trilogy and one of the main protagonist in the prequel films. He is first depicted as Darth Vader, a Dark Lord of the Sith in the first three original films. He is then revealed in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and in the subsequent prequel films to be originally a Jedi Knight called Anakin Skywalker who falls to the dark side of the Force; he is also revealed to be the father of both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa, the two main protagonists of the original trilogy. Luke ultimately redeems his father in Return of the Jedi, and Anakin sacrifices himself to save his son.
The character was created by George Lucas and numerous actors have portrayed him. His appearances (in one form or another) span all six Star Wars films, and in the expanded universe such as the spinoff film, television series, video games, novels, literature and comic books. He has also gained a cultural impact in popular culture such as politics and television, being commonly regarded as a synonym of evil. Psychiatrists have even considered him as a useful example to explain borderline personality disorder to medical students.
The first draft of Star Wars includes a tall, grim general named Darth Vader; the character came closer in line with his final depiction in the second revision. A character named "Anakin Starkiller" also appears in an early draft of Star Wars, playing a role similar to Luke Skywalker's, as the 16-year-old son of a respected warrior. Vader's menacing mask was originally designed by Ralph McQuarrie as part of Vader's spacesuit, and not intended to be part of the regular costume. George Lucas was disappointed with the script, but Brackett died of cancer before he could discuss it with her. With no writer available, Lucas had to write his next draft himself. In this draft, he made use of a new plot twist: Darth Vader claiming to be Luke's father. According to Lucas, he found this draft enjoyable to write, as opposed to the year-long struggles writing the first film.
This new story pointing out that Darth Vader being Luke's father had drastic effects on the series. Michael Kaminski argues in his book that it is unlikely that the plot point had ever seriously been considered or even conceived of before 1978, and that the first film was clearly operating under an alternate storyline where Vader was separate from Luke's father; there is not a single reference to this plot point before 1978. After writing the second and third drafts of Empire Strikes Back in which the point was introduced, Lucas reviewed the new backstory he had created: Anakin Skywalker had been Obi-Wan Kenobi's brilliant student and had a child named Luke, but was swayed to the dark side by Emperor Palpatine (who became a Sith and not simply a politician). Anakin battled Kenobi on the site of a volcano and was wounded, but then resurrected as Darth Vader. Meanwhile Kenobi hid Luke on Tatooine while the Galactic Republic became the tyrannical Galactic Empire and Vader systematically hunted down and killed the Jedi. This change in character would provide a springboard to the "Tragedy of Darth Vader" storyline that underlies the prequels.
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