Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne

FATHER’S DAY SPECIAL: I have picked my Most Iconic Movie Dad, now who’s yours?

Posted by Max Lalanne on June 13, 2012

Father’s Day is nearing right around the corner, so here I am with a special blog post for naming my choice for the Most Iconic Movie Dad, which celebrates, well, the most iconic, special and memorable of all the fathers ever commited to celluloid throughout cinematic history. Just to make it clear, though, the Most Iconic Movie Dad does not mean someone like Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life. Because while George Bailey is a fantastic father, who sacrifices a helluva lot for his wife and his children (not to mention his entire town), he just isn’t the most iconic. Well, at least in my mind. (For example, if I hadn’t forgotten to do one for Mother’s Day, I would’ve picked Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies. Yep, I would’ve.) But without further ado, are you ready?

And the Most Iconic Movie Dad for me is…Star War‘s Darth Vader! In case you don’t know who that is, I included a picture of the guy below, looking very pleased for having won this honor.

Okay, okay, bear with me. That is indeed my fanboy geekiness regrettably coming out full-force, but you have to admit that Darth Vader (played by David Prowse but voiced by James Earl Jones) is the Most Iconic Movie Dad Ever, because – well, he is, whatever you think of Star Wars or whatever you don’t think of Star Wars. The badass armored guy terrorized us – with his menacing respiratory breathing, his shrouded black cloak, and by just being there as a mysterious agent of the Empire with a penchant for Force-enabled chokeholds – when he first appeared in 1977’s A New Hope, stepping through that mangled airlock door surrounded by his white-clad stormtroopers. Instantly Darth Vader became a fantastic cultural icon, but back then, of course, we didn’t know much of his past or even that he was a father at all. We just knew that he and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – as well as Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), whom he tortured and imprisoned, in one of his lowest moments as a father – had some serious issues going on, but we would’ve never guessed that he was…wait for the next paragraph.

But then came 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, and Darth’s pesky and dedicated obsession to confronting Luke came to glorious, if temporary, conclusion in that epic battle within Cloud City. After chopping off Luke’s hand, Darth reaches out to the precariously-hanging young Jedi and proclaims one of the best lines of “Aha…huh?” dialogue in the history of “Ahahuh?” dialogue – “No, I am your father!” Who can forget that moment, really. Not me. Even after Darth appeals to poor Luke the tempting promise of father-and-son interstellar conquest forever, just the two of them – okay, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious evilly ordered him to propose that inconceivable idea, but still it is oddly moving even if it seriously traumatizes the kid, which was the point actually – Luke would rather throw himself down a garbage shaft than hear anymore from his long-lost father. And he did. Tsk tsk, ungrateful children.

But 1983’s Return of the Jedi was Darth Vader’s redeeming movie, as after getting his own hands in turn sliced off by a very angry son (“Take that, Dad!”) he returns to the good side and throws his senile puppeteer down the Death Star garbage chute, being mortally wounded in the meantime. We all presumed that Daddy Darth would redeem himself one time or another within this film, but when the moment finally came it was thrilling and even sad. There wasn’t not much time for reconciliation between the reunited father and son, but enough for some teary words of goodbye and a reveal of Darth Vader Anakin Skywalker’s true mutilated face…that was a nice touch. That was enough for Darth Vader to become the Most Iconic Movie Dad in my mind, even before George Lucas’ prequel trilogy followed and gave us a heap more insight into the backstory of Anakin Skywalker. Okay, especially before these movies since that Padawan-killing spree in Revenge of the Sith was horrible, but hey – I said Most Iconic Movie Dad Ever, not the Best Movie Dad Who Loves Everybody.

Darth Vader is such an iconic father, that he even spawned a hilarious spoof within Toy Story 2 where the evil Galactic Emperor Zurg turned out to be the father of Buzz Lightyear’s twin clone, with a dramatic reveal that mirrored word-for-word that of the original. Yes, Star Wars got spoofed in a lot of places, from Family Guy to Robot Chicken. Just saying, that Pixar nod was very cool.

But naming Darth Vader the Most Iconic Movie Dad Ever – that’s just my opinion, obviously, and if you don’t Darth deserved this spot, or (God forbid!) you’re simply not a fan of Star Wars, this is the spot where you can argue your point on who is the Most Iconic Movie Dad Ever. The lucky guy just needs to be somewhat of a household name, famous for his parenting skills or just because he’s awesome/terrible/neglective, and, well, iconic! Leave a comment below!

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