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Friday, January 27, 2012

Vader vs. Voldemort: Who Would Win?

The Case of Vader v. Voldemort

[In response to a question posed by a facebook friend (and discussed elsewhere on the internet).]

When Jon Stewart asked Ralph Fiennes who would win a swordfight between Voldemort and Darth Vader Herman Cain, Ralph’s response was that it probably depended on the size of the wand (skip to 6:09 to get to that part).

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
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[Warning: SPOILER ALERTS for Star Wars and Harry Potter]

Simple answer: In a wizard’s duel between Darth Vader and Lord Voldemort, Voldemort would win because he’s using real magic, not some amorphous “dark side” of a “life force.” In a Jedi duel, Darth Vader would win because he’s the better swordsman.

But before delving into a deeper discussion of who would win, we would need to invent a plausible mechanism for bringing them together in the first place. Darth Vader, aka Anakin Skywalker, died “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Voldemort was killed in 1997 in northern Britain. So we would need an alternate timeline or two (or possibly clones) in order for them to meet. The easiest way for Vader to win would involve installing a hyperdrive in the Death Star and simply traveling to the Milky Way to blow up Earth. I think Voldemort would find horcruxes inadequate to the task of keeping him alive beyond the destruction of the planet.

However, the implausibility of such a scenario is such that I believe we are forced to consider them in their current state. In short, what we’re talking about is a fight between ghosts. Vader is firmly established as a spirit within the canon of the movies, and I see no canonical reason why Voldemort might not choose to be a ghost himself. As a ghost, it is conceivable that Voldemort, still consumed by his fear of death, might actively be striving to return to life and power. Since time and distance mean little on the spiritual plane, I believe a scenario could be envisioned wherein the former Lord of the Sith would be in a position to attempt to intervene should the Dark Lord’s efforts threaten to create an irreparable rift in the space-time continuum.

It’s worth remembering here the differences between the ghost of Anakin Skywalker and the putative ghost of Tom Riddle, the most significant being that Anakin died a reformed man, reconciled to his son after destroying both his masters, while Tom was killed unrepentant, remorseless, and he never called anyone “master” but himself.

On this plane– the plane of good versus evil–deciding upon a winner between two immortal shades becomes a question of eschatology: does Good or does Evil win out in the end? From my study of stories, I have concluded that good only ever ultimaterly triumphs by losing, by surrendering, by sacrificing one’s self. This is seen in both galaxies, with Ben Kenobi and Harry Potter both embodying the principle. I believe the fight would end with Anakin throwing his immortal soul into the growing chasm between realities (possibly taking Voldemort with him), with his sacrifice thereby healing the seam, with his soul becoming part of the fabric of the cosmos.
So they both lose, but Vader is credited with the win because his purpose is accomplished.