A Look Back: The OTHER Darth Vader Commercials
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
So much of humor starts out as tension and fear. We take something that would normally scare the pants off us, and make it into something silly to eliminate the frightening element. It’s a classic bait-and-switch tool that both entertainers and advertisers love to use.
And by God, you’re not likely to find someone who enduces more tension and fear for the sake of entertainment than Darth Vader, who took the world by storm yet again on Super Bowl Sunday in a new Volkswagen commercial.
Why do I get the feeling this is what fans expected young Anakin Skywalker to look like in The Phantom Menace?
Though it’s rarely been done in a manner as funny, cute or clever as this, using Darth Vader for advertising purposes is hardly a new idea. The iconic nature of the character, combined with the way it obviously benefits Lucasfilm to keep Star Wars in the mainstream spotlight (the franchise is a money magnet, in case you’ve been asleep for 30 years), make our favorite dark lord a natural choice for commercials and TV spots. These are some of my favorite Darth Vader commercials from years gone by. Some of them were great, some of them have were okay, and at least one of them was spectacularly INSANE!
A few years ago, Spike TV acquired the rights to all six Star Wars films, and put out a bunch of commercials with the characters. Here’s one of them.
Did they honestly expect him to play fair?
This next one obviously uses a scene from the original 1977 film, but digitally inserts a new actor, who provides most of the dialogue. The looks on the faces of the other actors sync up surprisingly well.
I’m surprised the guy even got reception. If we can’t use cell phones on planes, you’d think they’d enforce the rule for a space station the size of a damn moon. What if it threw off the big laser? They could’ve blown up the wrong planet, and the movie would have been over! Nice going, moron.
This Target commercial is strictly okay, in my opinion. The bit is clever, but the costume looks store bought.
What, Kim Kardashian wasn’t available?
This commercial for DirectTV isn’t solely focused on Darth Vader. Heck, it isn’t even entirely in English! But it’s just too bizarre to ignore. I can’t decide if it’s hilarious, or just disturbing…
You know what? It IS disturbing. Having “Silent Night” in the background pushed it over the edge. That image of the four of them skipping through the field will haunt me. Why Vader was lumped in with a bunch of slasher villains, I have no idea. But you know what? It’s so stupid, it works.
In fact, the more I watch it, the more I love it. You complete me, DirectTV Darth Vader commercial! My life will never be the same again!
But even so, this is only my second favorite Darth Vader commercial of all time.
I admit, I’m biased. This commercial debuted in 1994, when I was a kid. So it’s a sentimental favorite. But you can’t deny it’s a great bit. Also, note the pre-DVD version of Emperor Palpatine from 1980. Why “Get his battery” didn’t take off as a catch phrase is beyond me. I’m going to start saying it all the time now. I don’t think it’ll ever replace “I was frozen today!” as the best random line to insert into a conversation. But if we all get behind it, it could take off!
Videos from their respective YouTube posters.
Front page photo from thefoxisblack.com.