Before we dive into the age-old question of who will win in this duel of the ages, we feel it our duty to warn you. This article contains extreme spoilers for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith, and all the other Star Wars movies in general.
Just by reading the title, you must be wondering, are Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader not the same person? How would they end up fighting each other? Have I missed a battle answering the single most controversial question in the Star Wars Universe?
Have no fear because we are here to answer all those questions and more in this article. And by the end of it, you will have acquired all the reasoning you need to beat your friends in the argument when you debate this again.
Also, do not be afraid because, in the words of Master Yoda, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering”. This quote is especially fitting for the debate that we are about to dive into below.
So, we will start with introductions for anyone who needs a refresher course on who Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are.
Table of Contents
- Who is Anakin Skywalker?
- Who is Darth Vader?
- Comparing Lightsaber prowess. What were their greatest feats with a Lightsaber?
- Talent and Connection to the Force. Who was more in tune with the Force?
- The Final Verdict. Who is more powerful?
Who is Anakin Skywalker?
Anakin Skywalker, the protagonist of the Prequel Trilogy and one of the main heroes of The Clone Wars, was a Jedi Knight in the time of the Republic. He was also believed to be The Chosen One, a Force user who would bring balance to the Force.
First introduced in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Anakin Skywalker was the son of Shmi Skywalker, both of whom were found on Tatooine by Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn. And while Anakin was freed from slavery, his mother remained on Tatooine.
Anakin was taken from Tatooine to be trained as a Jedi under Qui Gon due to his exceptionally high Midichlorian count until the untimely death of Qui Gon. Anakin was then given under the tutelage of the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi as his Padawan.
Through his time as a Padawan, and into the early stages of the Clone Wars, Anakin and Obi-Wan served as Generals in the Grand Army of The Republic. Anakin Skywalker was officially knighted as a member of the Jedi Order after the Battle of Geonosis.
During his Knighthood, Anakin served as a teacher to the Padawan Ahsoka Tano throughout the Clone Wars. Simultaneously, the Clone Wars also served to develop the bond between Anakin and Obi-Wan as brothers.
During the events of Revenge of The Sith, and before he fell to the Dark Side, Anakin was responsible for defeating Count Dooku. This feat leveled his lightsaber skill with that of Master Yoda.
Who is Darth Vader?
Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith throughout the Empire, was perhaps the most feared Sith to ever live.
First introduced in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Vader’s black suit and red lightsaber struck fear into people’s hearts when they saw it. And if you were close enough to hear his iconic robotic breathing, death was all but assured.
After his fall as Anakin Skywalker at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, Vader was confined to his robotic suit due to severe injuries and burns. And while the suit took some getting used to, Vader was soon a force (pun intended) to be feared.
Despite being in his suit, and unlike most Force users after losing their limbs, Vader became stronger in the Force and his practice of the Dark Side. He also altered his use of the lightsaber and developed a new fighting form.
Nonetheless, Vader’s true potential was only seen once during his fight with Obi-Wan on Mustafar. The hate-fueled former apprentice was vicious and powerful enough that his former master had to rely on having the high ground to defeat him.
Darth Vader’s affinity for the Dark Side of the Force, and his experiences as Anakin Skywalker, allowed him to be perhaps the most feared Sith ever to live. The only hindrance in his path is the loss of his potential after his defeat at Mustafar.
Now that we have recapped who Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are, let’s compare some of their feats in a few categories.
Comparing Lightsaber prowess. What were their greatest feats with a Lightsaber?
Given that a lightsaber is the main weapon that any Jedi or Sith will use in battle, Anakin and Vader’s abilities will play an important factor in determining who is stronger.
So, for this section, we will look at some of their most powerful feats, or moments where they displayed a great amount of skill, regardless of whether they won or lost at the end.
Anakin Skywalker was believed to be the most talented Jedi in lightsaber combat while also being an extremely quick learner. His skill with a lightsaber was considered second only to Mace Windu’s use of Vapaad.
In the movies, Anakin used a variation of Djem So which allowed for faster and more precise strikes at the cost of a more lenient approach to defending himself. In contrast, in The Clone Wars TV show, he used a variation of Form III that allowed the user to deflect and reflect blaster fire.
But now that we know how Anakin fought and what his combat style was like, the question is, what was his greatest feat with the lightsaber?.
Considering all the lightsaber battles Skywalker had participated in throughout his time in the Jedi Order, we end up leaning towards the fight with Count Dooku. Or, more specifically, when Anakin defeated him in the opening sequence of Revenge of The Sith.
Anakin’s fight with Dooku was important in more ways than one. It showed how Anakin was able to grow and learn from his experiences, and it showed how Anakin knew how to improve against a specific opponent.
The duel, serving as a follow-up from Anakin’s defeat at the hands of Dooku in Attack of The Clones, was a showcase for how Anakin matched up to and defeated an opponent that had already beaten him. Not to mention that Dooku had matched Master Yoda blow for blow on more than one occasion.
While Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are the same people, their skills with the lightsaber were leagues apart, even when Vader was in the suit, and especially without it.
(Note that for this comparison, we will consider the defeat of Mace Windu and the execution of Order 66 as the end of Anakin Skywalker and the birth of Darth Vader.)
Darth Vader, freshly renamed by Darth Sidious, and now his apprentice had all the experiences of Anakin Skywalker without any of the moral hindrances of being a Jedi. Also, he had the drive to save his wife throughout the final act of Revenge of The Sith.
One of Anakin’s traits that Vader had indeed inherited was how easily Anakin’s emotions gave him power. This, coupled with Vader’s skill with the lightsaber, led to one of the most satisfying on-screen lightsaber duels to date.
Vader’s fight with Obi-Wan was a hate-fuelled battle for the ages. And even though Vader lost, the sheer skill displayed by him in those moments, along with how he was in complete control of the fight until the very end, was the single greatest show of lightsaber skill ever.
A close second to Vader’s duel with Obi-Wan was his duel with his son, Luke Skywalker, in Return of the Jedi. Even though it was less of a lightsaber clash and more of a mental clash, this fight showed how Vader had once again evolved.
Vader had developed beyond a warrior who was solely reliant on his skill with the lightsaber and had learned from his mistakes while fighting Obi-Wan. This was most evidently shown by forcing Luke to reposition when Luke took the high ground.
While Anakin and Vader were almost evenly matched in Episode III, both heavily relied on their emotions to strengthen them and give them the advantage.
This, however, was not true for Vader. Over the years, he learned from his mistakes and evolved as a warrior due to his years of hunting Jedi throughout the Galaxy. Thus, for the lightsaber category, Vader ended up being more powerful than Anakin.
Talent and Connection to the Force. Who was more in tune with the Force?
After comparing their skills with a lightsaber, the other aspect of comparing is their connection to the Light Side and Dark Side of the Force, for Anakin and Vader respectively.
Since the Jedi and the Sith both rely on the Force to strengthen them, the tide of battle shifts easily depending on how in tune someone is with the Force. The exclusive abilities of each side of the Force will play their parts too.
Even as a child, Anakin was extremely powerful in the Force. His MidiChlorian count was recorded at 20,000, meaning that he was single-handedly the most powerful Force user ever to exist. His natural talent easily surpassed that of even Master Yoda.
Then, as Anakin grew and trained under Obi-Wan, and then eventually became a Jedi Knight, he was respected in the Jedi Order for how much raw power he possessed. But this respect also stemmed from fear, given that Anakin could not be stopped if he ever turned (foreshadowing much?).
Throughout the Clone Wars TV show, and in both Attack of The Clones and Revenge of the Sith, Anakin would carelessly dance around the line that separated the Light and Dark Sides of the Force.
He would often use the Force aggressively, showcasing abilities such as the Force Choke and extremely powerful versions of Force Pull and Force Push.
But the true extent of Anakin’s Force powers, and how deeply he was connected to it, was shown in the Mortis Arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Here, on this Force-sensitive planet, Anakin subdued the Son and the Daughter simultaneously to save Ahsoka and Obi-Wan.
(The Son and The Daughter were two of the three living representations of the Force. The Son and The Daughter represented the Dark and Light Sides, respectively, while the Father represented the balance between the two.)
After Vader’s defeat on Mustafar and the loss of all his limbs, what people usually assume is that he became significantly weaker in using the Force. This stems from the fact that Force users lose MidiChlorians when losing body parts.
Despite this, the same did not hold true for Vader. The same hate and fear that had strengthened him on Mustafar and allowed him to survive his injuries became a permanent part of him. Vader in his suit was more powerful than ever before.
While the loss of limbs did in fact stop Vader from using the Force Lightning ability, which was iconic to true Dark Side users, Vader’s connection to the Dark Side of the Force rivaled his Master, Darth Sidious.
Vader’s iconic Force Choke, which was forbidden to Anakin, developed to become so powerful that Vader could choke multiple targets along with controlling how hard the target was being choked. He was also able to choke people without having to look at them.
Other abilities that Vader had acquired included the Force Crush and the Lightsaber Throw. These abilities were developed after Anakin became Vader, leading us to assume that they were Dark Side exclusive abilities.
Some of his most powerful Dark Side moments include the Hallway of Terror scene from Rogue One, the single-handed slaughter of the entire Jedi Temple during Order 66, and that time he defeated an entire army of Rebels alone.
But it was not just the fact that Vader had developed new Force abilities or that he had strengthened old ones. Vader’s hate for himself and failing Padme was so deeply rooted in him that he was perfectly intertwined with the Dark Side of the Force.
Even though the battle between Anakin and Vader’s lightsaber skill was relatively close, there is absolutely no comparison in terms of Force power.
While Anakin may have had more strength, he never trained to utilize it fully. Vader’s hate, coupled with his drive to become more powerful, made him realize the need to harness his latent Force potential.
This drives him to become significantly more powerful than his former self, and arguably the most powerful Force User to ever exist.
The Final Verdict. Who is more powerful?
So, after comparing Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader in a significant amount of detail, the decision should seem pretty obvious.
Darth Vader edged out Anakin in the lightsaber combat category, and it was not as close as people would think it should be. Vader won over Anakin due to sheer experience and adaptability, and while Anakin was an impressive warrior, Vader was in a league of his own.
In the Force usage category, Vader again absolutely destroyed his former self. How? While Anakin was held back by the teachings and morals of the Jedi, Vader was not. This allowed him free reign over commanding his powers and using them how he wanted.
The above factors, coupled with the fact that Darth Vader is just Anakin Skywalker with more experience, make it clear that Darth Vader is more powerful between these two.