Star Wars: Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker’s top 15 moments

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Photo Credit: [Star Wars: Return of the Jedi] Lucasfilm

13. Vader defeats Han Solo

Although it lasts less than a minute, Darth Vader’s defeat of Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best and most important scenes in the original trilogy. It’s also one of Vader’s greatest moments.

To set the scene, Han and company have come to Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City colony in hopes of evading the Empire’s forces. This attempt fails as the entire group is handed over to Vader shortly after arriving. Of course, being the fearless rogue that is, Han doesn’t go down without a fight. He whips out his blaster and shoots Vader several times.

Unfortunately, Han’s brave showing is for naught. Vader’s mechanical arms absorbed the blasts with minimal damage and the Sith Lord disarms Solo with a gesture. At that point, the fight is over. Vader’s plot to use the group to lure Luke into a trap works and Han is helpless put into suspended animation.

Vader’s casual defeat of one of the galaxy’s most clever outlaws is a brilliant study and how to subvert expectations. For all his skills and intelligence, Han is no match for Vader. The film makes no pretense that he is.

In having Vader put Han down so effortlessly, Empire primes the viewer for Luke’s similarly devastating defeat in the third act. In doing so, the film lets audiences know that sometimes its heroes, for all their pluck and tenaciousness, won’t always be able to save the day. And that Darth Vader won’t be defeated easily.