When it comes to lightsaber fights, it’s the rematches that usually offer the more thrilling spectacle, even if only the competitors knew it was a Round 2.
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Just look at Obi-Wan’s duel with Darth Vader aboard the Death Star in A New Hope, which crackled with tension between the Jedi even before we knew about their history or their battle on Mustafar. Or when Luke engaged Vader on the Second Death Star, which was already imbued with some serious father-son angst thanks to their previous encounter on Cloud City.
That brings us to this matchup between Vader and Count Dooku, which is technically the third bout between the Sith Lords. The first one ended with Dooku victorious after he sliced off Anakin Skywalker’s forearm. But Skywalker returned the favor in their next go-round, and then some, by cutting off Dooku’s hands and his head.
So who would win this fight?
We can assume neither contestant will resort to hand-to-hand combat due to their previous injuries, so both should be evaluated primarily on their skill with a lightsaber (I assume Dooku rented out a pair of robot hands before the fight.) I’ve never been a fan of how the prequels keep trying to one-up the lightsaber fights by pimping them out with more blades and sides and gizmos, but Dooku’s dual lightsabers make plenty of practical sense, and I can’t see Darth keeping up with him.
On the other hand (the one that’s still attached), what Vader lacks in limb movement or respiratory fortitude he more than makes up for with Force sensitivity, and he’s used it to his advantage plenty of times. If the two of them ever enter into another Force staredown, Vader will likely not blink first, especially because he has a helmet on and you can’t tell.
But there’s a real-life aspect that must be taken into account here. Vader was voiced by James Earl Jones, which is no trivial matter, but since this is a physical fight, we have to make note of who inhabited the suit: David Prowse. Prowse was a bodybuilder who gave Vader an impressive presence in the films, although he was a better actor when seen and not heard.
But neither Prowse nor Jones, and honestly not even Vader, could stand up to Dooku’s portrayer: CHRISTOPHER LEE. I promise I didn’t even type it that way at first. The computer just automatically changed the formatting out of respect when it realized who we were talking about.
Lee has played in over 200 films, and that’s not even counting his TV work or performances in other mediums. He’s played Saruman, Dracula, and a host of other iconic roles. I think if Vader knew who he was actually fighting, he might back out, and then go home and watch The Man With The Golden Gun.
But while real-life counterparts should be considered, in the end this is a fight with fictional characters. And few villains have dominated the fictional landscape as Vader has since he first Force-choked our hearts in 1977. Dooku is a worthy opponent, but if he couldn’t defeat a clone army, he stands no chance against the gazillions of Star Wars fans who Vader brought over to the Dark Side a long time ago.
Winner: Darth Vader