Darth Vader is perhaps the most famous and iconic movie villain of all time, easily identified by his black armour, helmet and heavy breathing. He is extremely powerful, has an entire empire at his beck and call, and has even been the proud owner of two Death Stars! He is definitely a force you don’t want to be messing with.
It comes as no great surprise that fans are going into overdrive for Vader’s cinematic return this December in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where we will once again be awed by his powerful on-screen presence and reminded why he has become such a cinematic icon.
But how much of a bad guy is Vader really? Outer space is a pretty big place where there are a lot of nasty things you could bump into. So let’s take a look at some other terrifying space villains to see just where Vader ranks…
The Xenomorph (the Alien series)
Most Evil Act: Bursting through Kane’s stomach
Compassionate Side: None
Strengths: Acid blood, and impeccable hunting skills
Evil Ranking: 9/10
The xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi film would not be the best thing to run into on an interstellar journey. Even as a baby this terrifying creature will prove to be a bit of a handful. A facehugger will attach itself to your face before the alien itself uses your body to give birth in what could only be a described as unsanitary.
They then grow up extremely fast into fearsome adults with an incredible killer instinct. With acid for blood, two mouths and unmatched predator skills that leave you all but helpless, the xenomorph is unquestionably one of the deadliest and most evil creatures in space. However, if your name is Ellen Ripley or you happen to have a flamethrower at your disposal you may still have a fighting chance.
Thanos (the Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Most Evil Act: Mass Genocide
Compassionate Side: His love for Death (a character from the Marvel comics)
Strengths: Super-human strength and telekinesis
Weakness: His own emotions
Evil Ranking: 8/10
He’s really big and he’s really blue but don’t think for a second that he is the least bit friendly. Thanos is an almighty super-villain within the Marvelverse who first appeared in the movie franchise during the end credits scene of The Avengers; his most recent appearance was in Guardians of the Galaxy.
His goal is to acquire all six infinity stones in order to become the most powerful being in the galaxy and ultimately win the affection of Death (probably should mention that in the Marvel comics Death is a woman) by wiping out all existing life in the universe. His super-human strength and telekinetic abilities would make Thanos virtually unstoppable if it weren’t for his strong emotions that ultimately leads to his own undoing.
Ming the Merciless (Flash Gordon)
Most Evil Act: Allowing his own daughter to be tortured
Compassionate Side: He is in love with Flash Gordon's flame, Dale
Strengths: A powerful magic ring and impeccable facial hair
Weakness: Being impaled ironically and lack of fashion sense
Evil Ranking: 6/10
Emperor Ming the Merciless of the planet Mongo is the arch nemesis of Flash Gordon, determined to destroy the Earth simply because he can. Armed with his own army and magical ring, Ming makes for a tough foe despite his lurid and ludicrous fashion sense.
He isn’t nicknamed “merciless” for his polite hospitality: Ming is a ruthless ruler that has no regard for those around him. He will do anything to get what he wants – even if that means torturing his own daughter!
Ming isn’t completely heartless, however, as he is head-over-heels for Dale, Flash’s love interest – albeit an unrequited love. Despite his own army of loyal (and horrifically dressed) henchmen, Ming is eventually defeated by Flash by being impaled by the very missile with which he intended to destroy the Earth. That’s the ironic equivalent of Luke dropping the Death Star on Vader!
The Mon-Stars (Space Jam)
Most Evil Act: Stealing the talent of professional basketball players
Compassionate Side: Self-redemption
Strengths: Superior basketball skills
Weakness: Lack of intelligence and believing they can beat Michael Jordan at basketball
Evil Ranking: 2/10
There are a lot of villains in space but how many are animated and good at basketball? Five of them in fact, and they call themselves the Mon-stars (get it?). Tasked with travelling to the Looney Tunes’ world on Earth to capture Bugs and his friends to be attractions for an intergalactic amusement park, they find themselves challenging the gang (and Michael Jordan) to a game of basketball for their freedom.
These originally miniscule guys from space are actually terrible at basketball so they hatch their evil scheme to steal the talent of professional players to tip the odds in their favour, in the process turning themselves into the gigantic Mon-stars. However their greatest mistake was believing they could defeat Michael in a game of basketball! They lose the game at the last minute and agree to return the stolen talent. They’re far from being the worst of the worst of space villainy, but they’re the only ones that tried to stop the Looney Tunes. Boo!
Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Most Evil Act: Slaughtering hundreds of people
Compassionate Side: Cares for his crew
Strengths: Superior intelligence
Weakness: Prone to being cryogenically frozen
Evil Ranking: 7/10
First appearing on the big-screen in The Wrath of Khan (1982) played by Ricardo Montalban, Khan Noonien Singh (or just Khan for short) is a ruthless, genetically-bred dictator of a large part of Earth who, back in the classic TV series, was frozen only to be awakened 300 years later.
More recently, he was brought back to life on the big-screen by Benedict Cumberbatch in the alternate continuation of the Star Trek series. Being genetically enhanced means Khan is also super strong as well as being extremely intelligent – a huge advantage when it comes to being a successful, ruthless dictator. Having regenerative abilities makes killing Khan almost impossible. The only sure way of stopping him is to freeze him. That’s one way of cooling his temper!
HAL-9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Most Evil Act: Turning off his crew’s life support
Compassionate Side: HAL has no emotions
Strengths: Enhanced intelligence and full control of the ship
Weakness: A shut down sequence
Evil Ranking: 8/10
The Heuristically programmed Algorithm commonly known as HAL is an artificial intelligence responsible for getting the crew of the Discovery One spacecraft to Jupiter. He may appear to be just a red light but don’t let his polite manners fool you: HAL is as cold-hearted as they come.
Designed to be the most advanced computer system ever made, HAL discovers the most logical and efficient way of completing the mission would be to kill all the crew members. He acts as a warning of the dangers of technology, but also a reminder to always install an off-switch. Let’s hope that Vader never gets his hands on a HAL-style intelligence for the Death Star.
Darth Vader (Star Wars)
Most Evil Act: Wiping out the Jedi
Compassionate Side: Sacrificing himself for Luke
Strength: Mastery of the Force
Weakness: Essentially on life support
Evil Ranking: 9/10
Feared across the galaxy, Vader is a hate-fuelled Sith Lord with a desire to rule the galaxy. He is immensely powerful with the Force and has the sheer might of the Empire’s army to back him up.
Once a Jedi-in-training, he was manipulated by Darth Sidious into joining the Dark Side by wiping out the Jedi order. Immediately securing himself as The Greatest Villain of All Time for an entire generation of film fans, in Return of the Jedi he rediscovers his humanity by saving Luke from Sidious, sacrificing himself in the process.
It's a touching end for the most iconic movie villain of all time – but now of course he's back to his wicked ways in Rogue One, a movie that explores the events leading up to Vader's formidable first entrance in A New Hope. How evil will he be this time around? We'll have to wait and see.
Scoring a galactic 9/10, Vader easily brushes past the majority of the competition including a genetically enhanced dictator and a giant blue maniac to be the crowned the baddest space villain of all. Tying with the xenomorph, Vader is only dropped to a nine rating because of his final redemptive act whereas the xenomorph has no such qualities.
Therefore Darth Vader is one of the most powerful, dangerous, and skilled villains in the universe but he is also the only one that sacrifices themselves for a greater good. Perhaps Vader is not the most evil being in the galaxy, but he is certainly one of the greatest.
However have we really seen Vader at his mightiest? Throughout the Star Wars saga we have seen Anakin become Vader and we have seen Vader towards the end of his reign. We still haven’t seen him during his merciless rise to power but when Rogue One arrives in Cineworld this December, this crucial part of Vader’s history will be brought to life on the big-screen.