In the original Star Wars movie, Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi faces off against his former student, the dark lord Darth Vader.
In the following iconic scene, Obi-Wan twice refers to Vader as “Darth.” Why is this?
When the movie first came out, “Darth” was thought to be Vader’s first name, not his Sith title.
Within the Skywalker Saga, Obi-Wan may have referred to Vader by his title to mock him or draw attention to the fact that he was no longer a Jedi.
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Why Does Obi-Wan Call Darth Vader Darth?
There are two possible reasons why Obi-Wan called his former padawan Darth. One is a real-world explanation, while the other is in-universe. We’ll start with the real-world explanation.
Darth Was His Name
When A New Hope was originally released in 1977, no one knew how big it would eventually become. At the time, there were no definite plans for a sequel, and the story as we know it today had simply not been written yet.
In the original movie, “Darth Vader” was his name, and “Lord” was his title; thus, he was commonly referred to as “Lord Vader” by those under his authority.
Obi-Wan, of course, did not accept his authority, and as his former master, would have been more likely to call him by his first name.
So basically, no one at the time (perhaps including George Lucas) knew that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were the same person. By calling him Darth, Obi-Wan was using what was understood to be his first name at the time.
Other “Darths” weren’t introduced until the Prequel Trilogy, at which point it became clear that Darth was a Sith title.
During the original movie, this had not yet been established; even Emperor Palpatine was referred to as “The Emperor” rather than Darth Sidious.
Of course, now that additional movies and media have expanded the Star Wars universe, we can look back on the original movie and know that Obi-Wan knew Darth Vader was Anakin; considering this, would he not have called him Anakin instead of Darth?
Obi-Wan Was Mocking Vader
Fans have come up with various theories to lend plausibility to Obi-Wan’s use of Vader’s title. One of the most promising theories is that Obi-Wan was mocking Vader.
In the Star Wars universe, “Darth” means “dark lord.” By using his Sith title, Obi-Wan may have been employing sarcasm to remind Vader of how far he had fallen–from a promising Jedi Knight to a half-machine Sith Lord responsible for the death of thousands throughout the galaxy.
Obi-Wan did show a tendency to be sarcastic from time to time, so this seems like a plausible explanation.
Obi-Wan may also have called him “Darth” as a reminder of the space that had come between them; they were no longer student and master and had lost the friendship they once shared.
Is Darth a Name or a Title?
When A New Hope first came out as the original Star Wars movie, “Darth” was a name; Darth Vader was his first and last name. There were no prequels or sequels planned out yet, and while George Lucas may have had ideas for future movies, he didn’t have the story all planned out.
When A New Hope was released, it’s entirely possible that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were thought to be two different characters and George Lucas later fused them into being one and the same.
Darth Vader was revealed as Anakin Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, the sequel to the original movie. An explanation was now needed for why he was called Darth Vader and not Anakin Skywalker.
Thus, during the prequel trilogy, we learned that “Darth” was his title and “Vader” was his Sith name; “Darth” became the title for all Sith Lords.
So, according to the current canon, “Darth” is a title, not a name. But when the first movie came out, it was considered to be a name.
Did Obi-Wan Ever Lose to Darth Vader?
Obi-Wan was Darth Vader’s Jedi Master when Vader was still known as Anakin Skywalker. The pair might have fought some training duels, though it is unclear whether Anakin ever won any of those.
After becoming Darth Vader, he faced Obi-Wan only twice; the first meeting occurred on Mustafar (in the prequel Revenge of the Sith), and later on the Death Star (in the original Star Wars movie, A New Hope).
Obi-Wan defeated Vader on Mustafar, badly injuring him; this is why Vader had to wear his special suit of armor, which housed a life-support system to keep him moving and breathing.
When they met on the Death Star, Vader technically won their lightsaber duel; Obi-Wan was apparently killed.
But Obi-Wan’s plan was not to escape with his life, but to provide a distraction; in fact, he allowed Vader to strike him down so Luke and the others could escape. What’s more, he wasn’t actually killed.
During the duel, he told Vader, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
This proved to be true, as Obi-Wan became a Force ghost. Though his body disappeared, his consciousness remained, guiding Luke through the events that led to him becoming a Jedi, redeeming his father, Anakin, and defeating the Galactic Empire.
So, from a certain point of view, Obi-Wan never lost to Darth Vader.
Obi-Wan called Darth Vader “Darth” in the original Star Wars movie because “Darth” was initially meant to be his first name.
We now know that it was his title, and Obi-Wan may have called him “Darth” to mock him or to show the distance that had come between them.
Sarah Hood is a freelance content writer and editor with a love for all things Star Wars. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, singing, and spending time in the great outdoors.