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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Star Wars Theory: Why Obi-Wan Calls Vader 'Darth' in Their Final Duel

This weeks Your Nerd Side Show:

Star Wars' first lightsaber duel, in 1977's A New Hope, is a truly iconic moment that pits Darth Vader against his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. While certainly not as noteworthy as the face-off itself, Kenobi does something that, in retrospect, is downright bizarre: Obi Wan calls Vader "Darth," as if that were Vader's first name. Of course, at the time of the film's release, that didn't stand out as unusual. But, considering what fans know about his long history with Anakin Skywalker, it doesn't make sense at all.

Before Anakin fell to the dark side, Obi-Wan had a fatherly presence who guided him from childhood. Given that any caring father figure would naturally call to their son by name, it seems peculiar that Obi-Wan calls Vader "Darth" in their final battle. However, a Reddit theory posted by u/SEAN771177 may help to explain why he does this.

Obi-Wan's Potential Jedi Mind Games Against Darth Vader

The Redditor posits that instead of attempting to reach out to his former apprentice, Obi-Wan refers to Anakin Skywalker by his Sith name as a way to mock his fall to the dark side. This was a similar tactic to the one the Emperor used when he teasingly called Luke a Jedi toward the climax of Return of the Jedi. Calling Vader "Darth" would certainly get inside his head and provoke him to fight

In doing so, Obi-Wan would be able to engineer a diversion that could give Luke and his friends the time they need to escape the Death Star. By the time Vader defeated Kenobi and observed his empty robes, the door was shut between him and the Millennium Falcon, leaving him unable to prevent its escape. This Reddit theory nicely adds another layer to Obi-Wan's character, reinforcing his mastery over Jedi mind tricks.

As the franchise has expanded over the years, there have been many instances that display Obi-Wan's flagrant use of Jedi mind tricks. Between the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars animated series, fans came to understand the nature of the bond between them, and this adds credence to the theory. However, there's one major factor that throws a wrench into the whole thing, exposing a major flaw with the theory.

Why Star Wars' 'Darth' Theory Is Flawed

While the theory seems quite plausible, Obi-Wan actually calls Anakin "Darth" in A New Hope because creator George Lucas hadn't yet established certain elements of Star Wars lore. As the fictional universe expanded into the prequel trilogy, "Darth" became a Sith title, as opposed to a first name.

More importantly, at the time of A New Hope's filming, it hadn't been established that Anakin and Vader were the same person. That wasn't settled in Lucas' mind until the writing of The Empire Strikes Back. So, while the Reddit theory is a fun idea, the real reason why Obi-Wan calls him "Darth" has little to do with mind games and everything to do with an undeveloped backstory.

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