Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader made his first appearance in the beloved original Star Wars movie now called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. He was the main villain alongside the calculating Grand Moff Tarkin who would stop at nothing to put down the rebellion threatening their Galactic Empire. His all black suit and red lightsaber instantly became iconic symbols.
Darth Vader would go on to appear in the subsequent Star Wars films and his turn from an innocent slave on Tatooine to a Dark Lord of the Sith would be documented in George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. Vader’s legacy even extends into the new trilogy as Kylo Ren wishes to live up to the legacy of his grandfather. Needless to say much of Darth Vader’s history has been captured on film. But one thing George Lucas never explored was how Darth Vader obtained his iconic red lightsaber. It wasn’t until Disney bought Lucasfilm and tasked Charles Soule to write a Darth Vader comic did we find out how he acquired his red lightsaber.
Charles Soule’s Darth Vader tale with artist Giuseppe Camuncoli begins right after Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Vader steps out of his surgery bed and yells “No.”
While the movie skips ahead, in the comic Emperor Palpatine teaches the young Sith lord a painful lesson and tasks him with constructing a Sith’s lightsaber. Palpatine regales Vader about how the Jedi hid the knowledge of a red lightsaber’s construction. He elaborates, “A red saber is no different than any other except it has been made to bleed.” Palpatine then reveals the dark secret of how a Sith’s lightsaber is forged. He tells Vader, “Through the Dark Side, you must pour your pain into the crystal and when, at last, the agony becomes more than it can stand…a beautiful crimson. The color of your Rage.”
However, there is more than just pouring a Sith’s pain into the kyber crystal. Vader discovers quickly through the Dark Side that “the saber of a sith is not given. It is Taken.”
The Emperor then tasks Darth Vader with constructing his own lightsaber, “You must seek out a Jedi from whom to take a Kyber crystal.”
Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a
After locating a a recluse Jedi who evaded Order 666, Vader journeys to the river moon of Al’doleem where he confronts Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a. Vader and Kirak Infil’a launch into one of the best Jedi vs Sith fights within Marvel’s current run. Infil’a is no easy Jedi Master to vanquish in fact he severely cripples Darth Vader and leaves him for dead. A mistake he would come to regret. Vader draws on the Dark Side of the Force and uses Master Infil’a’s desire to save innocents against him. Vader steals Infil’a’s lightsaber and then tosses him from the dam above Am’balaar City moments before the dam gave way unleashing a tidal wave upon the city.
After stealing the Jedi Master’s lightsaber, Darth Vader’s ship takes him to Mustafar where he fell to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Emperor Palpatine instructs him, “From the site of your greatest defeat you shall rise — strong, unbroken, powerful.”
Palpatine then gives Vader more instructions on how to craft his red lightsaber, “You have acquired the lightsaber of a Jedi and the kyber crystal it contains, but they are not yet yours. The crystal is a potent thing, alive in some strange way, pulsing with Light Side energy. You will need great strength to bend it to your will. When you arrive on Mustafar, find the place where the Dark Side calls to you. Draw upon the energy there – combine its power with your own. Then use it. Corrupt the Kyber crystal. Teach it your pain. Teach it your anger. Hear it sing a hymn of darkness. Make it bleed.”
Vader follows Palpatine’s instructions. However, there is a twist. Vader is seduced by the Light Side. Vader is not swayed by the Kyber Crystal’s illusions and he pours his pain, anger, and hate into the crystal corrupting it and turning it from green to red. Vader then returns to Emperor Palpatine and shows off his new red lightsaber.
In short, Darth Vader obtains his red lightsaber by stealing and defeating Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a’s lightsaber. He then travels to Mustafar and channels the Dark Side in order to corrupt Master Infila’s kyber crystal with his pain, anger, and hate. This is how Darth Vader obtains his iconic red lightsaber.