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At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi defeats Vader and cuts off most of his biological limbs. Since then, he's basically been on life support; he's more "machine than man."

Given Vader's physical trauma, damaged body and his previous defeat, how can Vader be confident of beating Obi-Wan in another duel?

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    It's not like Vader is invalid, laid up in a bed. He's a powerful Sith who has killed multiple Jedi even after his defeat by Kenobi. – phantom42 Apr 29 '15 at 2:22
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    Yeah, 20 years of killing Jedi makes one arrogant. – Omegacron Apr 29 '15 at 15:00
  • Plus he got a robot body? – Paul D. Waite Dec 8 '15 at 15:35
  • @phantom42: Is this killing of Jedi between episodes 3 and 4 part of canon? I thought all the Jedi (other than Yoda and Kenobi) were dead at the end of Revenge of the Sith. – GreenMatt Dec 8 '15 at 16:11
  • @GreenMatt yes, Rebels has dealt with this. So far, Vader has largely tasked The Grand Inquistor with this, but he's been involved with it himself as well. – phantom42 Dec 8 '15 at 16:18
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  • Obi-Wan is comparatively feeble. We don't know exactly how old Obi-Wan is, but he's got at least ten years on Vader. Vader himself notes Obi-Wan's advancing years in A New Hope, and after they initially spar:

    Ben makes a sudden lunge at the huge warrior but is checked by a lightning movement of The Sith. A masterful slash stroke by Vader is blocked by the old Jedi. Another of the Jedi's blows is blocked, then countered. Ben moves around the Dark Lord and starts backing into the massive starship hangar. The two powerful warriors stand motionless for a few moments with laser swords locked in mid-air, creating a low buzzing sound.

    Vader: Your powers are weak, old man.

    A New Hope (1977)

    Age aside, Vader also has a physical advantage precisely because he's more machine than man: his robotic limbs mean he has more strength in his arms, and Anakin was always about strength over finesse. I'd make the argument that he'd also tire less easily, but I'm not sure canon bears that out.

    Plus, Obi-Wan just looks more feeble. Although it's been nineteen years since they last encountered one another1, Obi-Wan looks like a very old man. He doesn't cut the kind of figure you'd expect to defeat a Sith Lord at the peak (or maybe slightly over it) of his power.

  • Obi-Wan has been a fugitive for decades. After Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi are driven to the brink of extinction by the Empire. As a fugitive from justice, Obi-Wan knew that the only way to survive would be to keep his head down and not get recognized. Believe me when I say that this is not a good way to keep your combat skills sharp.

    Vader, meanwhile, has been leading the forces of the Empire. In addition to spending part of the last 30 years hunting down fugitive Jedi, he's also had the resources of the Empire to keep up his skills.

  • Vader has more practice with the Dark Side. The Dark Side is better at winning duels; I don't think this is a controversial statement. Obviously it didn't help Anakin much in Revenge of the Sith, but by A New Hope he's had almost twenty years to improve.

  • Overconfidence comes with the territory. Regardless of who is actually stronger, Vader is a Sith Lord. Sith Lords pretty much only do two things in the Star Wars universe:

    1. Try to destroy the Jedi and/or take over the galaxy

    2. Boast about how amazing they are

    It's just what they do.


1 Barring some truly delicious retcon

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    I believe it was noted in the novelization of the Phantom Menace that Kenobi was about 25 at the time of the Naboo adventure. That would place him around 60 years of age during A New Hope. Dooku was significantly older than that in Attack of the Clones, and was able to rival Yoda. I don't think his age has a huge deal to do with his age. In fact, Qui-Gon was older in PM than Kenobi was in ANH. – user44330 Apr 29 '15 at 2:49
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    @Rhettorical yes, but Dooku and Qui-Gon were active/training for much of that time. Being forced to stay in hiding, Obi-Wan couldn't have had much opportunity to keep up his dueling skills over the years. – phantom42 Apr 29 '15 at 2:51
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    @Rhettorical Plus, as I point out in my recent edit, Obi-Wan looks older than he actually is. Tatooine isn't a great place to spend your golden years – Jason Baker Apr 29 '15 at 2:53
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    @JasonBaker I agree on that point, but reading that excerpt, I don't see any indication that Vader is commenting on his "feebleness", but more on his lack of aggression. The last time they fought, Obi-Wan was all up in business. Now, he's just blocking, throwing a slash, blocking again. To a Sith Lord, that would be viewed as weakness. – user44330 Apr 29 '15 at 2:59
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    Anakin called Obi-wan old man even before the became Vader. And calling somebody an old man isnt much of an insult. It is a fact. Obi aged, got slower, Vader didnt age as he is more machine that man at that point. Also Obi-Wans objective in the movie isnt to fight Vader and win. It is to slow him Down so Leia and Luke can escape. So all in all Obi-Wan won that duel even when he lost. – Cherubel Apr 29 '15 at 9:00
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Given that Vader said "I feel something, a presence I've not felt since..." and walks off, there is clearly an unseen connection (likely through the Force) that is explicitly alluded to.

Thus, Vader may have felt directly the inferiority of Obi-Wan's powers and/or feeble biology once they were close enough to duel.

It's also not certain that Vader believed what he said at all. He could have just been bluffing to rile up Obi-Wan, similar to what the Emperor did with Luke.

  • Obi-Wan was able to mask his presence in the force for over 20 years. Vader only began to "feel" something as Obi was actively doing something against the Empire. He may or may not have used the force and that is possibly what Vader felt. So Again points for Obi as he could have been masking his capabilities and only delaying Vader so he didnt go for the twins. Obis "PRIME DIRECTIVE" protect the twins and keep them away from the Emperor. – Cherubel Apr 30 '15 at 6:07
  • It's ambiguous if he felt something due to Obi-Wan's activities, Obi-Wan's presence alone, or the twins (and not Obi-Wan at all). However, it is not excluded that Vader just felt directly the age and feebility of Obi-Wan, and thus his belief would be justified. – Ehryk Apr 30 '15 at 6:51
  • +1 for that last sentence. I've always interpreted this statement as a sort of psychological gamesmanship. – GreenMatt Dec 8 '15 at 16:14

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