In Episode V, in Cloud City, Lando Calrissian brings Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca into an trap, where Darth Vader is sitting in a room. Han immediately takes his gun out and shoots at Vader.

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Vader blocks the laser blast with his robotic hand. He then uses the force to pull Han's blaster from him.

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Why would he choose to confront the rebels in person and not be ready to be fired at?

He could have done the following:

  1. Had his stormtroopers ambush them and disarm them first.
  2. Had his light saber ready to deflect shots.
  3. Used the force to disarm Han before he even reaches for his weapon.

All of which would have prevented him taking shots.

Isn't the point of being trained to use a light saber so you don't take damage from laser blasters? Are we to assume that Vader's suit and hand build is strong enough to take the same blast from a weapon that is used to disable other electronics to open/close doors?

  • 110
    Look Han, I can deflect you blaster shoots with my bare hands! If you want to go away with my daughter, you should do better than that!
    – DavRob60
    Feb 16, 2012 at 1:46
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    Not be ready to be fired at? Seems to me he was perfectly ready, given that the shots did no damage.
    – Kyralessa
    Feb 16, 2012 at 4:24
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    @sunpech - Re: "...hand build is strong enough to take the same blast from a weapon...", the extended universe suggests that his right gauntlet was, in fact, a Sith Alchemy imbued Mandalorian Crushgaunt. Assuming that to be the case, yes.. it would be that tough.. A Crushgaunt can even catch and hold a Lightsaber blade.
    – K-H-W
    Feb 16, 2012 at 6:10
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    @DavRob60 - Thanks for resolving my future dilemma of how to handle such situations Feb 16, 2012 at 12:01
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    If Vader thought that Han's blaster would have posed any kind of threat, he would have had him disarmed first. He certainly would have been prepared to whip out his lightsaber if he needed it. Besides, blocking blaster shots with your hands is badass, even for a Jedi.
    – Ken Liu
    Jul 14, 2012 at 2:15

8 Answers 8


It is instantly demoralizing. If a bunch of storm troopers busted in, chances are Han or Chewie would whip out the blasters and start firing. This way the targets are caught unawares, show blatantly that they are meeting overwhelming force, and within seconds neutralized. No heroic last stands, no fiery martyrdom, but 3 captives with minimal fuss.

  • 61
    +1; Vader considers them too trivial to bother with more... and lets them know that.. Very Dark Side psychological. Crush their spirit by dismissing them as 'not worth the effort.'
    – K-H-W
    Feb 16, 2012 at 6:16
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    Plus, storm troopers can't shoot for crap.
    – BBlake
    Feb 16, 2012 at 14:10
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    @BBlake Ah, but “only Imperial storm troopers are so precise”! Feb 1, 2016 at 22:37
  • Only when shooting at Jawa apparently. Must be they can only aim correctly at creatures of diminutive stature. Anything over 4' tall throws off their aim somehow.
    – BBlake
    Feb 2, 2016 at 15:18
  • Every time storm troupers are used with orders not to kill they screw up
    – Andrey
    Oct 18, 2016 at 1:41

The dinner-with-Lando scenario makes a lot of sense if you consider the Bespin situation from Vader's perspective. Consider what Vader knows about Han and Chewie. (I'm drawing from the movies only, not all the cartoons and books). Solo is shacked up with the Princess, and has risked his life alongside Luke and the Rebels, but maybe he or his Wookiee can still be bought with promises of money and freedom. One of them might tell me where Luke is! (Then I'll laugh and give Solo to the bounty hunter)

For this to work, I need all of them to at least consider the possibility that I might not kill them all, so I prefer them alive and unruffled (at first). Also, Solo is the promised price to be paid to Boba Fett for his services, so it's best that Solo live. Excessive violence in the facility will also anger Calrisian, who will then become a pest. Keep Calrisian pacified, and he will encourage Solo and the Wookiee to ignore Leia, be smart, and tell me what I want to know. So. Finesse.

I've got it. A nice dinner with their friend Lando. The plan is perfect: 1) They might leave their weapons in their rooms (Chewie came to dinner unarmed). 2) If they take their guns to dinner, I needn't disarm them unless they draw on me, and such force need not be lethal. I'll take care of it personally. 3) Even if I have to disarm them, I will continue to be courteous until I have had a chance to evaluate them. If no sell-outs step forward, fine. That means they're either loyal to Luke, or they simply don't know where he is. Either way, we'll roast them on a spit, and if Luke cares for them, he will come to me. (Then I'll laugh and give Solo to the bounty hunter)

On Jabba's sand skiff, Luke's mechanical hand fully absorbs a blaster shot from one of Jabba's men, and the hand continued to work fine. Vader, meanwhile, did not absorb Han's blaster shots, but rather deflected them with his hand. Is that the force, or an industrial strength mechanical hand? Doesn't matter. Point is, Vader had it handled, and he handled it with finesse.

VADER: "We would be honored if you would join us."

He looks civilized and lawful. These are the deeds that keep businessmen complacent and cooperative toward a tyrannical imperial government, and legitimizes the punishment dealt to those who resist.The movies often focus on Vader's constant reliance on force and intimidation, but the Empire's servants do get paid as well.

Of course we know what happened. Neither Solo nor Chewie would sell out Luke, or the rebellion, and they didn't know where Luke was anyways. Whether they actually sat or ate anything in front of Vader is up for speculation, but they were all in jail when next we see them.

  • 4
    @MeatTrademark: In my opinion, it's pretty good fanfic / reasoning / no-prize material. Jun 23, 2014 at 16:17
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    Although I do agree that this borders on fanfic, my only real complaint is that you forgot to end with "And then Vader laughed and gave Solo to the bounty hunter"
    – Falsenames
    Aug 14, 2014 at 1:01
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    This is in no way, shape, or form fanfic. This is a fairly rigorous roleplaying analysis. If that does not address the question, then drawing from canon is similarly fallacious. All the points made were directly or indirectly supported by direct evidence in the movies.
    – Lighthart
    Dec 17, 2014 at 2:09
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    +1 for a well-reasoned, entertaining, and (most importantly) completely film-based (no-EU) answer.
    – user44330
    Apr 22, 2015 at 21:16
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    I don't agree with folks who say you can't use reason based on evidence to answer questions here, only canon. I also disagree with the fanfic comments, this answer was well reasoned and simply presented in a format that helps illustrate the point.
    – Paul
    Oct 3, 2016 at 12:45

I always assumed that he absorbed the blasts using the Force. There is precedent for it (in the EU, at least) - Corran Horn did it, though a predisposition for that ability does run in his family.

  • 3
    This is what I assumed too.
    – HNL
    Feb 16, 2012 at 4:16
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    Not quite. It was the force + Crushgaunt, as discussed in later comments on the Q Feb 16, 2012 at 12:02
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    I read "EU" as "European Union" and was surprised. Jul 13, 2012 at 12:03
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    @DVK Damn EU retroactively tainting Star Wars :( Pretty sure there were no stinking "Crushgaunts" back then. I'm willing to bet scriptwriters back then thought Vader blocked the blaster bolts simply because he was powerful, and that's it.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 19, 2013 at 3:36
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    ...and I know for a fact that this viewer just assumed that Vader had blocked the shots using the force. There didn't seem to be any need for the EU to come along and over-rationalize things...
    – user8719
    Jul 20, 2013 at 22:24

The film's novelisation gives us some fairly strong indications of what's going on. First off, it's worth noting that these are high value prisoners. Vader has gone to great trouble to clear the city, hide his troops and arrange this ambush. He's evidently unwilling to let his troopers spring the trap because of the possibility that one of them might get hurt. This is, of course, the same reason why he stops Fett from firing in the Carbonite chamber later.

Second of all, the ease with which Vader captures Solo and the others is a good indication that he doesn't see them as any sort of threat. Words like "effortlessly" and "harmless" are bandied around to show just how utterly insignificant Solo's attempts were.

But the man who may have been the fastest draw in the galaxy was not fast enough to surprise Vader. Before those bolts zipped halfway across the table, the Dark Lord had lifted a gauntlet-protected hand and effortlessly deflected them so they exploded against the wall in a harmless spray of flying white shards.

Astounded by what he had just seen, Han tried firing again. But before he could discharge another laser blast, something—something unseen yet incredibly strong—yanked the weapon from his hand and sent it flying into Vader’s grip. The raven figure calmly placed the weapon on top of the dining table.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - Official Novelisation


He might well have not expected Solo to begin firing as quickly as he did, people (Vader too) have a habbit of underestimating Solo. Watch the scene, Han has is blaster out within a second or two of seeing vader. I would guess he intended to walk out and say something dramatic but Solo shot him instead.

However it did not matter because he could bat the shots away the same way we might bat away a child with a stick.

  • 24
    So Han shot first?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 21, 2012 at 14:52
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    It has been a couple of years but my recollection of the scene is that within a second or two of seeing Vader Han shot him (admittedly to no affect but hey it would not be a Han plan unless it went wrong!) before anyone could really do anything. Chewie managed to roar but even he did not go for a weapon. I would have thought that this was not really part of Vader's plan. Vader would probably have looked forward to terrifying them by his presence and laying a verbal smack down rather than being immediately forced onto the defensive and having to adlib a disarm on Solo.
    – Stefan
    Jun 21, 2012 at 15:05
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    I think it's the exact opposite. Solo totally underestimated Vader, thinking of himself as the Rebel equivalent to the Dark Lord but suddenly finding out that he is in a totally different league. As for Vader, if anything he overestimated Solo and was disappointed that Solo tried to shoot him (which obviously wouldn't work). Jul 13, 2012 at 12:04
  • @AndrewJ.Brehm, what do you think Vader was expecting Solo to do if he was disappointed about the gunplay?
    – Stefan
    Mar 11, 2019 at 14:59
  • Keep his composure. Mar 15, 2019 at 16:23

There could be many reasons for this. He could have done it to simply show off how powerful he was to Solo and the other stormtroopers.

Maybe he just didn't feel like pulling out his lightsaber, thus showing that even barehanded he is more than a match for any blaster.

Vader didn't get damaged because of his hand being bionic, that would make no difference as other Jedi that have no bionics have also been able to do the same thing, Luke, Yoda, Dooku, Jacen Solo and others being just a few examples of this.

Though only the strongest Jedi were able to do this, it's certainly not unheard of to be able to do so.

Thus, Vader was in no danger at all from Han pulling out his blaster and shooting him. Vader is at such a level that he doesn't even need his lightsaber against the vast majority of threats that could come against him. With his force powers, physical strength, size, martial arts skills and other combat abilities, and with basically all the Jedi being extinct, he only has to pull out his saber against Obi-wan, then Luke in all three of the original movies, as well as the Noghri warriors of Honogr.


The group is no threat at all to Vader. Instead he wants to take of business himself (which is why he's at Cloud City, after all). He harmlessly deflects the shots, such is his skill with The Force, and easily disarms them as he would a child.

This is explained in the original script, too:

    The mighty doors to the dining room slide open 
    and the group enters the  dining room.  At the 
    far end of a huge banquet table sits Darth Vader.   
    Standing at his side and slightly behind him is 
    Boba Fett, the bounty  hunter.

    Faster than the wink of an eye, Han draws his 
    blaster and pops off a  couple of shots directly 
    at Vader.  The Dark Lord quickly raises his  
    hand, deflecting the bolts into one of the side 
    walls, where they  explode harmlessly.  Just as 
    quickly, Han's weapon zips into Vader's  hand.  
    The evil presence calmly places the gun on the 
    table in front of  him.

Plus it made for a cool reveal in the movie ;)

  • 3
    Also, Cloud City has no beaches or sand of any kind, as it floats in the atmosphere of a gas giant. To Vader, it must've seemed like a long-overdue vacation.
    – Mel
    Jan 15, 2020 at 22:59

Yoda is able to stop force lighting from Count Duku and Palpitine. So the force can stop bolts of energy. Darth needed them alive so he decided to see to it personally.

Plus it's bad ass.

  • 3
    Force lightning and laser bolts aren't the same thing, are they ?
    – Kalissar
    Jul 19, 2013 at 8:05

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