‘Star Wars’: Every Time You Can See Anakin’s Eyes After He Becomes Vader
For all its starships, lightsabers, and unique worlds, what makes Star Wars so great is its characters. The Star Wars universe is full of compelling characters, both good and bad. One of the most fascinating among them is none other than Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi-turned-Sith-Lord who became Darth Vader. When we first meet Vader, he’s the ultimate symbol of evil incarnate. As more of his backstory is revealed, however, he’s given more dimension.
While Vader’s main story is told in the Star Wars films, there are other Star Wars stories that also advance his character arc. At different points in that arc, there are features of the character that reveal his mindset. One of the most powerful features is the color of his eyes. Let’s take a look at how the changing color of Anakin Skywalker’s eyes reveals his internal struggle.
The Clone Wars crash site
In the final scene of The Clone Wars animated series, Anakin (now Darth Vader) visits a crash site where Clone Troopers perished and finds the lightsaber of his former protege, Ahsoka Tano. One Star Wars fan on Reddit made Anakin’s eyes more visible during that scene, and they appear to be blue. This would reveal the fact that Anakin still has some of his humanity left.
Anakin’s eyes tell the audience just how far gone he is and what’s going through his mind. When his eyes appear with a yellowish-red tint, it’s clear he’s lost to the dark side of the Force. In this case, thoughts of his former apprentice brought his previous identity bubbling back to the surface. It’s a powerful visual motif and narrative device. It’s one that would be used in other Vader appearances as well, both in animated and live-action form.
The fight with Ahsoka in Rebels
In the animated series Rebels, we see a showdown between former Anakin padawan Ahsoka Tano and Anakin. This time, however, Anakin is fully ensconced in the Darth Vader persona. He’s a complete monster, well removed from the Jedi everyone knew and loved.
Vader’s showdown with Ahsoka forces him to confront who he was and what he’s become. Ahsoka tells him she’ll never give up on Anakin; he tells her that Anakin is dead. When Vader’s helmet is cracked open, we’re able to see his eye. It’s now yellow and red. It’s a reminder of what he’s become and what he no longer is. The struggle inside him has been replaced by sheer evil.
Luke removes Vader’s helmet in Return of the Jedi
The final time the audience sees Anakin’s eyes is in Return of the Jedi. To set the scene, before the reveal Anakin has just witnessed his mentor, the Emperor, torture his own son, Luke Skywalker. Prior to that, Luke defeated him in a duel yet when the time came to strike him down, he threw his lightsaber aside rather than kill his father. After the Emperor’s attempt to kill Luke, Anakin tosses him into the bowels of the Death Star.
This takes a lot out of Anakin. Absorbing the Emperor’s dark energy essentially kills him. Before he dies, he asks Luke to remove his mask so he can look on him with his own eyes. While we see a scarred face, we also see Anakin’s eyes returned to their previous form: no yellow tint, no sign of anger, hatred, or malice. Through his son’s love, he’s returned from the dark side of the Force. He then dies having saved Luke and yet again being the good man he had been before his turn.
Anakin’s eyes serve as an indicator for the character, and this ending shows us that he’s been rehabilitated. It’s a striking visual element, and it’s compelling that different sets of creators and filmmakers were able to tap into it to drive Anakin’s story forward.