The story of Darth Vader’s tragic fall to the dark side is a powerful, heartbreaking cautionary tale. Before the prequel trilogy, Vader was a villain who was saved by the love of his son. Traveling back in time to explain what made him evil added depth and emotion to his fall.
Palpatine is the perfect foil to this trajectory. It is never explained on-screen how or why he became a Sith Lord. From the beginning, he is the epitome of the dark side. We do not know how he became evil because we do not need to know. He is representative of the worst segment of humanity — those who seek ultimate power, and only for themselves.
While Vader’s story is powerful — and there are many other brilliant Star Wars stories featuring villains who became villains because they were mistreated, devastated, or otherwise shattered — not every antagonist needs a reason to oppose the hero.
Not every Star Wars villain needs a reason to be bad.
There is certainly a time and place for stories that strengthen a character’s redemption through explaining why they went down the wrong path. Reva, for example, came to turn her back on the Inquisitorious because she realized she couldn’t change what happened to her as a youngling.
But sometimes it’s not necessary. There is also a time and a place for stories that remind audiences that not every form of bad behavior deserves forgiveness and grace. Not every evil in the world has a root cause that can be mended.
Sometimes, people are evil and there’s no need to explain why.
Sometimes people just don’t care about other people, and only about themselves.
There’s nothing more villainous than that. Even when it’s shown that simply.
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