I posed this question to a bunch of my friends and colleagues to try and get a consensus as to who they believe is the stronger of the two. I purposefully left the question open ended so that most people would weigh their individual acts and feats against the other to make their determination, not just on fighting skill or force ability. I will say that the split was pretty interesting, with a few outliers, the majority of women and people over 30 voted for Anakin while males and people under 30 voted for Darth Vader. This is a very interesting split considering the division in age and the release times of the films.
Before I give my two cents on who I think would win, I’m going to highlight some facts about both fighters which may help to clear a few things up.
Darth Vader was the original badass villain and the actual main character of the original trilogy (according to Lucas). He has been included in all manner of different media ranging from games, to novels, comics, and even animated shows. He is one of the most recognizable characters in all of cinema and his voice work (done by the great James Earl Jones) is iconic. Most people are not familiar with some of his more amazing feats though. Let me break down a couple for you…
Most younger people are familiar with the video games Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II in which Vader takes on an apprentice named Galen Marek aka Starkiller. Marek was the secret apprentice that Vader took under his wing during the time gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Starkiller was going to be Vader’s secret weapon so he could eventually overthrow the Emperor and take control of the Empire.
When Vader was dispatched to hunt down a known Jedi survivor of Order 66, he tracks the rogue Jedi to Kashyyyk. After killing the Jedi (Kento Marek) in battle, he discovers the baby, Galen, and takes him in secret to raise as his own apprentice. After working for Vader on many missions in secret; the Emperor discovers Starkiller and orders Vader to kill him. Vader obeys his mater and impales Starkiller before sending him floating into space. Starkiller is recovered and revived by droids before being sent to foster an alliance among the enemies of the Empire. Ultimately, Starkiller is forced to confront his old master and bests him in battle, it’s here where the player makes a choice to go with either the light side or the dark. The light side is revealed to be the canonical ending while the dark side is a fun “What If?” story that was expanded on in a DLC.
I bring up training Starkiller because of how strong Galen was in regards to force abilities. During his time helping to foster the Rebellion and form it into a fighting force, he attacked and destroyed a Star Destroyer production facility and shipyard. As he was fleeing the facility a finished Star Destroyer saw him and maneuvered to try to kill him. Starkiller PULLED THE STAR DESTROYER OUT OF THE SKY WITH THE FORCE and crashed it to the ground. Granted, Vader didn’t actually teach him to do this but still, he trained this guy and beat him in battle once or twice depending on the choices you make.
In the canon comic Vader Down, Vader goes up against an entire squad of X-wings himself and beats them with very little effort. He is stopped by the last X-Wing ramming his TIE and sending him spiraling into the planets surface. This planet happened to have a secret Rebel base on it and thus the entire force was dispatched to bring Vader in. When the troops arrived and I do mean troops (around 300 of them at least), they shouted for Vader to surrender. This is where we get the amazing panel of Vader declaring he’s only surrounded by fear and dead men. see panel below:
Vader then proceeds to slaughter the entire Rebel force with ease and is only stopped when the Empire arrives to retrieve him. This is also part of the same run where Vader is constantly being tested by various other “replacements” that the Emperor is courting to constantly keep Vader on his toes.
The planet of Ryloth which is home to the Twi’lek species, (Ahsoka Tano and Shaak Ti), was under imperial rule and the people were subjected to slavery by the Empire. When the “Free Ryloth” movement revealed themselves and liberated the camps, they also attacked the orbiting Star destroyer Perilous, which just happened to have the Emperor and Darth Vader aboard. To quell any thought of rebellion, the Sith descended onto the planet with legions of Stormtroopers to put the planet back under imperial control. The Sith and their forces were relentless in their attack. Not only did Vader kill all the leaders of the Free Ryloth movement, but he also slaughtered all of the prisoners that were taken to make an example of them. The worst thing was that Vader tricked a little Twi’lek girl into leading him back to her village where Vader proceeded to massacre everyone to ensure that no one would ever dare try and rebel against the Empire on this planet again.
Following the execution of Order 66 and the emergence of Darth Vader, he returned to Tatooine at one point to do business with Jabba and Boba Fett. He leaves Boba and states that he has some personal business to attend to. He ventures out into the desert and locates a village of Tusken Raiders. Vader proceeds to slaughter the village for what they did to his mother. Vader kills everyone in the entire village and then sets the huts on fire before declaring that his business on this planet is concluded. The village that he wiped out had nothing to do with the Raiders who killed his mother (which he already massacred in Attack of the Clones), he just felt the need to slaughter more of their kind for what they had done to him all those years ago. Some other raiders from different villages found what he had done and have built a shrine to him believing him to be a vengeful God that strikes down the wicked.
Anakin Skywalker was the chosen one, the one meant to bring balance to the force, or so the prophecy said. He was trained from his young age by Obi Wan Kenobi to become not only his Padawan but a brother/son and one of the greatest Jedi that the Order had ever seen. He rarely ever lost a battle and was known throughout the Clone Wars as having some very unorthodox plans of attack. He was portrayed by Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace and by Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
TRAINING AHSOKA TANO
One of the most popular characters to come out of The Clone Wars TV show was the Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano. Ahsoka is a Togruta female from the planet of Shili. She was discovered by Jedi master Plo Koon and as such she shares a special bond with him despite Anakin being her master. She was assigned to Anakin early in the Clone Wars and served with him and 501st throughout much of the war. She garnered a lot of respect from not only the troops bu Captain Rex himself, who viewed her as his leader even though he technically out ranked her. She, like her master, was known for adopting unorthodox battle strategies but was also very compassionate to those under her command. Ahsoka grew in both skill and power through her time with Anakin but she ended up leaving the Jedi order shortly before Order 66. She was framed for a bombing at the Jedi temple, which resulted in several deaths and excommunicated from the Order. She was on the run from Commander Fox and several other Clone troopers who’s orders were to shoot her on sight; despite the Jedi wanting her back for a trial. Anakin refused to believe that Ahsoka was guilty and tapped into the Dark Side to get the answers needed to save her form her execution. The two of them had a very heartfelt good-bye where Ahsoka left the Order. Anakin didn’t want to see her go but knew that her faith in the Order had been irreparably damaged.
Ahsoka fled to Mandalore where she met up once more with Rex during Order 66. Together, her and Rex evaded the troopers and survived before splitting up and going their separate ways. The crew of Ghost in the show Rebels found her and convinced her to help them in their mission. It was during this time that Ahsoka confronted Vader on Malachor V. Feeling as though Anakin’s fall to darkness was her fault for leaving, she resolved to atone for her mistakes by fighting Vader to the death and avenging her old master and friend. She ended up surviving her battle with Vader inside the massive holocron, and thought some funky time warping, surviving the reign of the Empire.
Ahsoka is one of the few people to go toe to toe with Darth Vader in a fight and actually survive. She is also widely regarded as the best thing to come from the Clone Wars TV show. While Ahsoka is her own individual with her own experiences, much of her life was influenced by her training and friendship with Anakin and the skills he taught her in their time together.
ANAKIN KILLS DARTH TYRANUS (COUNT DOOKU)
Count Dooku was the leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems (C.I.S./ Separatists), but before he took that title he was also one of the greatest swordsman that the Jedi Order had ever seen. He trained under master Yoda and was best friends with Master Sifo Dyas (the master who ordered the production of the clone army). As a young Jedi, Dooku would get into all sorts of trouble with the older Jedi and the various masters at the temple. The thing he wanted most to see and din’t understand why they were kept in secret, were all the Sith holocrons that were locked in the restricted section of their archives accessible only by masters. He believed that to fully beat the Sith you must understand as they do which is something that several other Jedi did not agree with. Eventually he became disillusioned with the Jedi and their refusal to learn all about the Force in its entirety and resigned his commission as Jedi master making him one of the lost twenty ( masters who had left the Order for one reason or another). He returned to his home planet and claimed his title of Count, overthrowing his brother in the process. He was approached by Darth Sidious who offered him a chance to be his apprentice, Dooku wanting to end the corruption of the Republic and the Jedi Order agreed and he was given the title of Darth Tyranus.
Dooku was regarded as one of the best swordsman that the Jedi order ever had, Yoda (his master) was his only superior and Mace Windu was his only equal openent. He was a master of Form II lightsaber combat known as Makashi. Makashi focused on lightsaber to lightsaber combat and was rarely used by the Jedi during the clone wars as they focused more on form V and Form III for combating blaster wielding oponents. The downside to Dooku’s chosen form of lightsaber combat was that it was meant for finesse and lacked kinetic power, which was his downfall. When he first dueled Anakin and Obi-Wan he beat them with ease and was only forced to flee from his old master Yoda. During his final engagement with Anakin after the Separatists had abducted the Chancellor, in Revenge of the Sith, he couldn’t keep up with Anakin.
Anakin utilized Form V of lightsaber combat which is known as Djem So or Shien. This particular form focused on the deflection of blaster bolts back at the individuals who fired them and on breaking your enemy’s defenses with powerful attacks and counter-attacks. When he dueled Dooku for the final time the count was unprepared for the raw power that Anakin possessed and was overwhelmed by his powerful attacks which drained his force powers leaving him weak for Ankakin to finish him off. Anakin went from losing within a minute of fighting and having his arm cut off, to beating one of the greatest swordsmen in the galaxy.
Much to his master’s concern, Anakin possessed a lot of rage for someone in the Jedi order. He worked well to suppress his anger during his training and through most of his time as a Jedi but sometimes it would come out and actually help him quite a bit. Anakin was already regarded as the most powerful Jedi ever, but when he let go of his emotions and was overtaken with his rage, he became something else entirely. Case and point, Darth Tyranus, when he tried to fight him with his Jedi training, he was beaten. During their final confrontation in the space above Coruscant, Anakin let his rage overtake him and he beat Dooku into submission before executing him.
When he was trying to uncover the truth of what happened at the Jedi temple when Ahsoka was blamed for the bombing he wasn’t getting anywhere as himself. He ventured into the Coruscant underworld and tried to find out where Ahsoka had gone, he wasn’t aware the Commander Fox had already captured her and tried to kill her. He encountered Asajj Ventress who was Dooku’s former padawan, and who had helped Ahsoka escape from Fox and his troops (the first time). When she refused to answer his questions Anakin let his rage overcome him and he nearly killed her before she could give him any information. Thankfully, he relented and didn’t kill Ventress and because of that he helped to clear Ahsoka’s name.
The most famous example of the rage Anakin possessed is during Attack of the Clones when he found his mother beaten in the Tusken Raider camp. He managed to get to her before she died and tell her he loved her. Before she could respond with her love to him, she died of her wounds. As Anakin laid her body down his rage came over him and he slaughtered the entire village right down to the little four legged dog thing. He killed them all. They’re dead. Every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children too. They’re like animals and he slaughtered them like animals… he hates them! Sorry, I had to… but horrible dialogue aside, he did murder an entire village of people.
I am going to side with the older and female crowd for this one and say I think that Anakin Skywalker is the stronger of the two. There are many factors but one of the biggest ones is the fighting style. As I said before Anakin uses Form V of lightsaber combat which is a very physical and acrobatic form. This alone will give him a massive advantage over Vader. The limitations of Vader’s suit and cybernetics make it impossible for him to move his arms above his shoulders and to move at a very swift pace or jump high. The biggest issue with that is not being able to lift his arms above his shoulders. Anakin was known for jumping over opponents and striking downwards mid jump, which is something that Vader would be unable to block effectively. I will admit that when it comes to force use, Vader is the much stronger combatant. Due to his physical limitations he was required to retrain himself for combat as well as augment his force powers to compensate for his lack of maneuverability. As such, in an enclosed space Vader is an unstoppable machine as shown in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. If this battle were to take place in any sort of locale where Anakin is able to jump and maneuver over/around Vader, I think the fight would go to Anakin.
The interesting thing is that recently in canon comics, the exact opposite of my verdict has been proven. Throughout the entirety of Star Wars we are told that Darth Vader and Anakin are two separate people. This is shown in Rebels when Vader says “Anakin Skywalker was weak. I killed him”. This brings to mind the duality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, wherein one person is in control of the body at any one time with the other taking a back seat, much also, like the Incredible Hulk. In the comics it’s shown that constantly Vader is being forced to duel Anakin for control of their body. The battles always take place on Mustafar with Vader winning every single time, almost. In Return of the Jedi when Palpatine is torturing Luke on the Death Star II during the Battle of Endor, Vader and Anakin have a duel. This is the one time when Anakin wins and kills Vader. This lets Anakin to take control of his own body once again and vanquish the Emperor and save his son. Even though Vader won 99% of their fights, Anakin never gave up, he kept coming back and coming back until eventually he won. This is why I think that Anakin is the stronger of the two, not just for his fighting style and agility but because of his perseverance.
Disagree with me? Let me know why. Until then, see you next time!