As warriors, Star Wars’ Darth Vader and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come from entirely different worlds. Both Vader and the Turtles are considered master combatants and prove to be extremely dangerous to their respective opponents. But if the Sith Lord and the Heroes in a Half-Shell ever had a conflict, who would come out on top?
A quick glance makes the fierce and ruthless Darth Vader may seem like an easy choice, but Master Splinter’s students have never backed down from an intimidating foe. Let’s take a look at the aspects of Vader’s and the Turtles that would come into play during the battle.
Born into slavery on Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker attracted the eye of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, who sensed Skywalker’s special connection to the Force. Qui-Gon suspected the boy could be the individual prophesied to bring balance to the Force, but the Jedi Council was initially hesitant to allow Anakin to be trained. Those fears were made real as Anakin allowed himself to be manipulated and drawn to the Dark Side of the Force. After the fall of the Republic and following a brutal battle with his Master Obi Wan Kenobi that left him missing limbs and near death, Skywalker was reborn as Darth Vader, the Emperor’s right hand.
Vader is outfitted in armor that also serves as life support and augments his strength. His main offensive weapon is the lightsaber, the traditional weapon of the Jedi and Sith. As Anakin Skywalker he was known to be one of the most skilled with the “laser sword,” and once under the thrall of the Dark Side, Vader added a powerful viciousness to that skill. However, the most dangerous aspect of Darth Vader is his frightening affinity for the Force, which is further fueled by his rage and hatred. The Sith Lord has displayed a dangerous array of Force abilities, including the ability to strangle someone without touching them and using the Force to detect and anticipate threats.
Throughout the Galaxy, the name Darth Vader strikes fear into the enemies of the Empire. The Jedi Knights would have provided formidable opponents for Vader had they not been largely wiped by Order 66 and nearly hunted to extinction by Vader himself. Even in situations where the odds were greatly in favor of the Rebel Alliance, Darth Vader’s determination and refusal to fail saw him triumph. Star Wars: Vader Down was a major crossover event that saw Darth Vader crash land alone on Vrogas Vas as the entire Rebel Fleet attempted to seize the opportunity to hunt him down. Facing impossible odds, Vader still eliminated large numbers of the opposition and survived the encounter.
In the current IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continuity, Hamato Yoshi and his family were betrayed and murdered by Oroku Saki, the leader of the Foot Clan, in the feudal Japan era. Yoshi and his sons are reincarnated in the present day as a rat and turtles, initially as test subjects in a research facility. They are renamed Splinter, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo by those in the facility, and an accident left them all exposed to a mutagen that transformed their bodies and minds. Splinter, recalling his past life, taught his sons the art of the ninja and turned them into a formidable and skillful clan.
As a clan, the TMNT operate as a cohesive and efficient unit. As individuals, the Turtles each possess their own strengths and specialties and are known for each wielding a different primary weapon. Leonardo assumes the leadership role, and brandishes katana blades. Donatello provides ingenuity and brainpower to their operations while equipped with a bow staff. Raphael gives the Turtles their muscle and furious passion armed with a pair of sai. Michelangelo serves as the heart of the team, providing levity when needed and proving to be an expert with nunchaku. Trained as ninja, they can operate in stealth or as an impressive offensive force. Their true strength lies in their bond as brothers and their dedication to upholding the honor of the Hamato Clan.
The Turtles have faced a diverse smattering of foes ranging from gangs in the back alleys of New York to interdimensional invaders with grandiose goals of conquest. Their most frequent opponents are the Foot Clan and its leader Shredder, the revived Oroku Saki. Shredder’s reign over the Foot Clan tested the Turtles’ strength and fortitude as a family on many occasions, yet in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #50 they stood against him and won the day after Master Splinter defeated and beheaded the man who slayed his family. The victory was not an easy one to achieve, physically or morally, and did drive a wedge between the Hamato Clan as Splinter then assumed the Foot Clan throne. This drives home the point that the Turtles will do what it takes to win, but that sometimes victory comes at a cost.
If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were to encounter Darth Vader, they would face an opponent that poses a threat unlike any they’ve faced before. However, it’s not as if Vader has come up against an elite squad of mutated shinobi warriors either, and underestimating the Turtles would be an immense error.
If there is one area where the Leonardo and company could see an advantage, it’s that they’ve repeatedly faced opponents from universes far different from their own. Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles transported the brothers to Gotham City, where they held their own against Batman before realizing they were not enemies. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles similarly brought the Turtles against the Power Rangers initially and then Rita Repulsa’s forces. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters united the ninjas in a team-up with the famous for-profit paranormal removal squad. The TMNT are adaptable enough to survive and flourish in any environment they’re tossed into and are experienced in battling opponents that don’t exist in their home reality. But in these cases, they were aided by the heroes who regularly face these foes, and unless the Rebels were there to assist, the Turtles would find their hands full with Vader.
Victory for the TMNT would be dependent on their ability to keep Darth Vader off balance, which is no easy task. The Sith warrior’s connection to the Force would be the most dangerous aspect of his capabilities for the Turtles to face. If Donatello was able to lean into his science acumen and conceive of a way to sever Vader from the Force, then the brothers’ chances increase significantly. But barring some sort of midichlorian manipulator, the Turtles would have to depend on their abilities to distract, deceive and outwit Vader.
The other huge obstacle is Darth Vader’s lightsaber. The blade would slice through the traditional weapons the Turtles wield, and unless they acquired a substance like beskar or similar weaponry, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ second priority would be to disarm Vader and keep the lightsaber from his grasp. Ochi of Bestoon, assassin of the Sith, managed to accomplish this task in Darth Vader #7, so it’s not unimaginable that Master Splinter’s disciples could do the same.
Whatever the scenario, the true determining factor in this battle would be the resolve of the combatants. The Ninja Turtles come from a tradition of honor and respect, however those ideals mean little to Darth Vader, who seeks victory and dominance at all costs. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael would most likely not enter combat with the same intent to slay as the Emperor’s right hand would. This could cost them. However, when their family is threatened or harmed, things change for the Turtles. The Last Ronin has provided a gritty example of how a member of the TMNT would operate if his brothers were killed. The same principle could apply to this encounter. Should Vader eliminate any Turtles, the intensity and fury of the remaining brothers would increase immediately. If Darth Vader didn’t kill all the Turtles in one fell swoop, he might find himself facing an opponent whose rage and hatred would match his own.
While there are huge hurdles in the path of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles facing a foe as fierce as Vader, they’ve overcome greater odds. But it’s unlikely that they would be able to defeat Darth Vader without losing any members of their ranks. For a family as tight as the TMNT, losing even a single member of their clan, even in the pursuit of vanquishing a foe, would be considered a defeat. Considering the threat Vader poses, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would be lucky to walk away from the encounter at all.