Throughout Star Wars, there has always been the question of who is the most powerful Sith. Various sources have arisen to challenge and question just who is stronger, from characters like Revan or Darth Nihilus out of Knights of the Old Republic, or the characters from the movies like Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine. However, one of the most common answers to that question on fan lists and sites is the Secret Apprentice of Darth Vader from The Force Unleashed games.
Galen Marek, also known as Starkiller, was the main protagonist of the old Legends games before Disney bought Star Wars. He displayed incredible control of the Force, from moving a Star Destroyer with it to defeating both Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine in succession. Galen Marek seemed to be not only one of the strongest Sith Lords, but one of the most powerful Force-users in all of Star Wars. However, he isn’t truly the strongest Sith.
First, it’s important to realize that gameplay mechanics are not always accurate to the story. Gameplay first and foremost is meant to be fun, which means it’s not necessarily indicative of what the player character can actually do, or what their enemies can actually do. In the case of The Force Unleashed games, players are able to go wild with all sorts of Force powers, which doesn’t necessarily translate into Starkiller’s actual power.
Furthermore, The Force Unleashed also had tie-in comics and novels released alongside the games that explained certain events and clarified details. In this case, while Starkiller remains an incredibly powerful character, the events that took place during The Force Unleashed were not nearly as cut and dry as they might seem at first glance during gameplay.
One of Starkiller’s biggest feats — moving a Star Destroyer using the Force — is not quite as awe-inspiring as it might seem. For starters, the Star Destroyer was already coming down on its own, heading into the atmosphere due to the successful sabotage of the space station constructing it. All Starkiller did was alter the ship’s trajectory to somewhere less damaging — and even that required all his power to accomplish, so it’s not something he could just casually do at a whim. In short, while his feat with the Star Destroyer was incredible, there were a lot of extenuating circumstances that allowed it to happen at all.
Then there’s his fights with Darth Vader. In the original Force Unleashed, the gameplay makes it seem like Starkiller simply overpowers Vader, supposedly the strongest Force User in the galaxy. However, the tie-in novel explains Vader initially had the upper hand during the fight, forcing Starkiller back and tiring him out. Galen Marek had to resort to psychologically attacking the Sith Lord, calling out his motivations and lack of will, weakening Vader’s defense and allowing Starkiller to gain an upper hand. This is a sobering reminder that raw, physical strength is not the end-all, be-all in a fight.
Furthermore, in the second game, Vader clearly learned his lesson, fighting Starkiller far more tactically and using psychological manipulation of his own with the clone’s love interest Juno Eclipse. This strategy only backfired when it seemed like Vader had accidentally killed her during a struggle and fueled Starkiller’s rage, allowing him to gain the upper hand.
As for his duel against the Emperor himself, the novels, the comic and even the game make it perfectly clear Palpatine was faking his defeat in effort to turn Galen to the Dark Side, in almost a mirror display of the scene in Revenge of the Sith. The moment it becomes clear Galen won’t fall for the Emperor’s ploy, Palpatine immediately gets up and attacks, forcing Galen to stay behind and sacrifice himself so the Rebel leaders can escape, dying as a Jedi.
Furthermore, despite being at the epicenter of the Force explosion that claimed Galen’s life, both Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are completely unharmed, another subtle display of their own power.
In short, while Galen Marek was a powerful Force-user, he was not truly the strongest Sith in any Star Wars canon.
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Starkiller has often been cited as the strongest Sith in the Star Wars universe, but truthfully, others are far more powerful.