'Star Wars': Who Was the 'Presence' Vader Felt In 'A New Hope'?

Is there a movie series more iconic than the original Star Wars trilogy? Those three movies have spawned hundreds of books, video games, movies, and even TV series.

Even if you somehow have never seen Star Wars, you probably know quite a bit about the franchise and can quote lines from it. That’s just how much Star Wars has become a part of the cultural consciousness. One moment that fans remember to this day is in A New Hope: the moment when the heroes first arrive on the Death Star, the massive spaceship base of Darth Vader.

This is a moment that Star Wars fans have many thoughts and theories about. Just who was Darth Vader sensing in this moment?

What happens in ‘A New Hope’?

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A New Hope is the first Star Wars movie ever released, though chronologically, it’s episode IV in the main movie series. It opens in a war between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, and more specifically on the planet of Tatooine.

Luke Skywalker, a young man living on a farm, comes to acquire two droids: C3PO and R2-D2. R2-D2, however, carries a message from Princess Leia, containing the blueprints of the Death Star, a deadly spaceship that’s central to the Empire’s plans.

Along the way, Luke teams up with Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi knight who gives him his lightsaber, Han Solo and Chewbacca, two smugglers, and the droids. They infiltrate the Death Star to rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan sacrifices himself, so the heroes can escape. Luke also learns about the Force along the way, and at the very end uses this power to destroy the Death Star. This simple premise inspired one of the greatest franchises ever created.

Who is Darth Vader?

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Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones, first appears in A New Hope but has his backstory elaborated upon in the prequel trilogy. We learn that Vader’s previous name was Anakin Skywalker, and that he was a Jedi knight and Padawan of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

However, he turned to the Dark Side of the Force, and became Darth Vader under the counsel of Emperor Palpatine. Darth Vader is also the father of both Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia — this fact being a massive reveal in Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, and a line that both fans and non-fans know by heart.

What was the ‘Presence’ Darth Vader felt?

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The line “I sense a presence, a presence I have not felt since…” is one fans have always assumed refers to Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, Reddit fans on the Star Wars subreddit, in a thread about various theories and headcanons, have said that the presence could also be Luke and Leia. Though it’s followed by a discussion of Obi-Wan, fans have reason to believe Vader felt all three:

“But my headcanon is that he felt a combination of Obi-Wan, Luke, and Leia’s presence. The last time he was with all three was on Mustafar, and now here they are, all together in the same place at once. This conjured feelings that he hadnt felt since then. In his head, he attributed it to Obi-Wan, but it was also Luke and Leia.”

At the point when the script to A New Hope was written, the exact details of Anakin’s backstory had not been worked out. However, this line in combination with what we know from the prequels adds a new level of depth to this film.

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