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Darth Vader’s Suit Fed Him Drugs and Protected Him From Anakin’s Worst Enemy

Darth Vader's suit fed him Sith drugs to increase his power, while his cape protected him from the one thing he hated most.

Star Wars antagonist Darth Vader is one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history, in part because of his iconic look. His armor, encasing the burned and brutalized body of fallen Jedi Anakin Skywalker, spells terror. Between his wheezing and towering stature, Vader has the appearance of an all-powerful supervillain.

Darth Vader’s armor is designed to protect him. The electronics allow Vader to breathe through his scorched lungs and allow him to walk despite his severed limbs. However, two surprising attributes to the armor offer added levels of protection to Vader that might not be immediately apparent. The armor pumps Vader’s body full of drugs in order to keep him all-powerful, despite all his injuries, while Vader’s stark black cape protects him from his lifelong nemesis: sand.

In the Star Wars Legends Canon sourcebook, Darth Vader: A 3-D Reconstruction Log, it is revealed that Vader’s armor constantly injects chemicals crafted via Sith Alchemy into Vader’s body. The chemicals offer him increased strength and vitality, allowing him to live. This is a part of his life support systems, which allow him to breathe despite his completely ruined lungs.

In a sense, these chemicals would function like Batman villain Bane’s Venom. Unlike the chemicals that mute Bane’s pain in The Dark Knight Rises, Vader is in constant pain, which only helps fuel his rage, which in turn fuels his Dark Side abilities. In fact, Palpatine, as revealed in the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, even lied about the armor’s injection system’s purpose, telling his apprentice they would lessen the pain. As Vader realized, this was not the case.

However, the chemicals do increase his strength and constitution, making him a force to be reckoned with, even if he’s still in agony. Along with that, impulse generators stimulate muscles that Vader’s damaged nerves cannot reach. The armor makes him stronger and more durable, but it also allows him movement.

The Cape Is A Sand Shield

However, one of the seemingly more superficial elements of Darth Vader’s armor — his black cape — protects him from arguably his greatest enemy: sand. As Anakin Skywalker said in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, he hates sand. Therefore, it makes sense that the cape would protect him from any of the coarse material.

Vader’s cape is armor weave — a cloth durable enough to block blaster fire and burning jet fuel. It stretches down to his boots for a very practical reason. While the armor weave cape is an extra layer of defense on top of his already durable armor, it also prevents grit and particles — including sand — from entering into his armor. Grit could build up between gears or joints of the electronics over time, damaging any number of the armor’s functions.

In essence, the cape is designed to keep grains of dust, mold or sand from jamming up Vader’s system. As Anakin eloquently put it himself, sand is “rough, coarse, irritating and it gets everywhere.” Vader’s life support suit is the last place he’d want his long-hated nemesis sand to go.