At the beginning of the original Star Wars (1977) film, after Imperial troops have taken control of the Rebel Blockade Runner (Tantine IV), Darth Vader is clearly seen physically strangling Captain Antilles shortly after boarding the ship.

Okay, I have read the details in this question and answer thread which focuses on people being levitated when being “Force Choked.” And the selected answer clearly provides a nice inventory of the times Darth Vader—and others—“Force Choke” folks. But I’m still unclear on one thing: If Darth Vader can remotely—without any physical contact—choke people by using the Force, then why does he choose to physically choke Captain Antilles and crush his throat with his hands?

Is there any kind of in universe—official Disney canon or “Legends”—explanation for Darth Vader choosing to flex his muscles around Captain Antilles neck? I assume the “out of universe” explanation is George Lucas was making this stuff up as he went along and the imagery just looked cool.

Darth Vader physically lifting Captain Antilles by the neck.

  • 29
    Out of universe, the reason is that the film hasn't had any time to set up "the Force" as a thing. If Vader starts force-choking him without an explanation of how, you'd probably assume that the guy had swallowed a peanut.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 8:49
  • 5
    Vader's trying to get information out of Antilles: the location of the plans. So Antilles needs to not only be choked - he needs to be terrified. Having Vader's mechanized hands around your neck, and his pneumatic breath in your face, would sure increase that effect. Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 19:09
  • 2
    I know for a fact this was one of the last scenes filmed for the movie, because the Tantive IV shoot was a late one, a while after the Imperial roundtable of him force choking Motti was already shot. So the idea that this was shot first and they came up with the force choke later in filming is false. This was shot nearly last. So this should be taken in consideration. Some of the first scenes in the film were the last ones shot. Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 14:04
  • 12
    It was arm day.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 14:28
  • 2
    @Valorum Maybe that's all the Force is. Peanuts.
    – Juan Perez
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 23:19

3 Answers 3


From a storytelling point of view, it would have introduced yet another element right at the start of the movie - and before the concept of the Force was introduced.

Placing Vader’s first use of the Force at the commanders’ meeting works because we have Motti belittling Vader and his “sorcerer’s ways,” with the immediate reprisal being a demonstration that there is power in the force.

All we need to know right up front is that Vader is both bad and a badass.

  • 6
    Introduction to Physics in a Galaxy, Far, Far Away 101.
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 1:42
  • 10
    Plus, the guy is right there. It's easier just to grab him. Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 19:12
  • 3
    Also, as this is Vader's first time on screen, it accentuates his scary and intimidating nature if he is seen to be physically lifting and strangling someone. Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 6:27
  • I agree with that
    – user128883
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 15:51

/begin fan theory

There is evidence to suggest that Dark Force users, and possibly even Light Force users, try to avoid using their powers with others around. Which makes a bit of sense when we look at religions in RL. As an example: except for apologetics, Christians don't generally express their doxology in public. Maybe Force users don't generally practice the force in public.

Examples or hints to this:

  • In the scene you include, Vader is trying to get information out of Antilles. Vader could have used a force Mind Trick to have Captain Antilles tell him. Instead he tortures him.
  • Vader uses the interrogation probe on Leia instead of his powers. Poe is interrogated by multiple people/things. It isn't until the multiple failures that Kylo Ren gives it a shot. And succeeds. Easily.
  • Darth Vader says in Star Wars: A New Hope “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” Taken literally (and out-of-context), this is a strange comment to make since we’ve seen three examples of planet destroying machines constructed.
  • Tarkin and Motti openly ridicule Vader. If Vader, Palpatine, or the Jedi 20 years prior were open with their powers the officers would have never dared to criticize Vader. (Considering Vader only gives Motti a little choke, it isn’t unreasonable to think they believe he can’t do much more.)
  • In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Jedi and Sith seem to be considered more myth than reality. This is a mere fifty years after the Clone Wars! Yes there were only two Sith at a time and not many Jedi but these were ninjas with lightsabers with psychic powers that lead armies regularly in battle and had a Jedi temple on Coruscant. These were the leader of the senate, emperor and his apprentice. And their powers are considered myths after only a few dozen years.
  • Vader and Kylo Ren tend to interrogate in private when they use their force powers. Or with the minimal assortment of people.
  • There are other small examples sprinkled in the seven movies where in-universe the characters do an action that makes very little sense given their force powers. Kenobi’s issues in Star Wars episodes II and III would have been easier (Use a Jedi mind trick on Fett or bounty hunters in general), Force users generally bothering to fight humanoids one-on-one period, Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn being sent as diplomats (you don’t send super soldiers to negotiations), Qui-Gon Jinn not gambling to win Anakin's mother, etc...

/end fan theory

Edit: After seeing Rise Of Skywalker, Vader literally could have meant that Palpatine and himself were stronger than death stars.

  • 1
    Or Qui-Gon Jinn is not a very good Jedi. He acts as if he's never been in the field before. You know you are going out to the rim. You know they don't much respect the Republic. But you don't bring anything but Imperial Credits.
    – CigarDoug
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 12:43
  • 1
    @CigarDoug - they were Republic Credits. They were probably the Queen's Republic Credits, as the Jedi don't typically carry much in the way of personal effects. Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 22:30
  • He does say Republic Credits. Somehow that sounded wrong in my mind. So, if the Queen footed the bill, why doesn't she have local money? Tatooine must be somewhat near Naboo. I know, it all was part of the plot, so the boy would enter the race. But I have to admit, the scene gave me my favorite line from the movie: "No, they won't-ah."
    – CigarDoug
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 15:06
  • Not that it breaks your point overall, but the force mind trick is only suppose to work on the weak minded. Kylo Ren seems to have mastered a more advance form, but its quite possible that Darth Vader was not skill/strong enough to Jedi mind trick Antilles or Leia, or risk the embarrassment Qui-Gon had with Watto.
    – yesennes
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 22:23

In addition to the obvious necessity to introduce Vader's character as the ultimate bad guy, I'd say that in this scene his character was also pretty pissed off, so resorted to a more primal action than use of the force:

  • We know that Vader was previously tantalisingly close to preventing the escape of the stolen plans. His frustration stems from his own arrogant self-belief in his power, which is a trait from his pre-Vader days

  • "What have you done with those plans?" He demands, knowing fully well this rebel guy is probably just a trooper and unlikely to know to such information

  • Picking him up and throttling him whilst interrogating him, before he's had a chance to answer, indicates his intention is simply to vent his anger; to kill this guy regardless
  • 1
    +1 for the R1 connection. The chronological events right before Vader catches up to the Tantive IV show him at one of his most visceral moments. It's no surprise he continues this rage when finally getting his hands on someone responsible (literally). Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 16:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.