Here’s How Darth Vader Can Return To ‘Star Wars,’ Without It Feeling Cheap

With all the Star Wars spin-offs either in the making or rumored, the Star Wars franchising is revving up to create more content than fans have ever seen. So far, the franchise has seen only a few misses with the Solo film at the box office and The Rise of Skywalker with critics. But at the same time, The Mandalorian might be one of the most celebrated pieces from the universe. It’s a mixed bag, but a surefire way to ruin a spin-off or revival is by making it feel cheap or uninspiring. So how can Disney and Lucasfilm bring Darth Vader back without making those mistakes? It’s all about getting to the core of what makes fans love the mechanical villain.

Darth Vader on display at the 'Star Wars Identities' exhibition at the Science Centre of Montreal on June 23, 2012.
Darth Vader on display at the ‘Star Wars Identities’ exhibition at the Science Centre of Montreal on June 23, 2012 | Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

There are rumors Hayden Christensen could come back to ‘Star Wars’ at some point

As there always are, rumors are swirling around about Hayden Christensen coming back in the role of Darth Vader. There’s nothing concrete at all, and the only thing you can base this on is the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Christensen did come back for a voice-over cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, which was originally rumored to be a visual cameo as well. Basically, fans really want him back, but could it happen?

Well, Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series is about how he’s dealing with his PTSD and struggles post-Revenge of the Sith. That could easily warrant a flashback to Anakin or their fight on Mustafar. It’s eight years after Episode III so he could also come face to face with what his former Padawan and brother has become. There are definitely ways to work Christensen in, but that doesn’t mean they will.

Darth Vader has never really gone away

Darth Vader is the villain. He is the chilling aspect of the original trilogy that made fans wild back when they came out. George Lucas wasn’t originally going to make Vader as big of an entity as he was, including his connection with Luke. But he was such a fan-favorite, that things just shifted. Now, Lucas has stated that Episodes I — VI are Anakin Skywalker’s story. He’s the heart of the saga. 

Because of this, it makes sense that Vader has never gone away. From that epic entrance in Rogue One to his appearance on Star Wars Rebels to the newest cameo in Jedi: Fallen Order, having Vader show up is an event. It’s not like he’s been away since Episode III. He’s alive and well and not just in fans’ minds. Not to mention, the Darth Vader comics that are now canon are doing a great job of building that bridge between the prequels and the original trilogy, showing what Vader’s done in the meantime. 

Darth Vader cameos thrive in his villainy and horror

There is already criticism about including Vader in current projects, though. Some say the Rogue One and Jedi: Fallen Order cameos were just fan service or that Vader’s appearance “undermines” the media. Regardless, they introduced Darth Vader the exact way he should be brought in: with all his horrifying glory. 

The thing that had fans so geeked out when they first saw Vader was his ability to be bad. He was ruthless and merciless; Darth Vader was the embodiment of evil. This added a greater significance to his redemption and turning back to the Light Side for his son Luke because the contrast is astounding. 

All recent iterations of Vader do this. In Rogue One, the fear of Vader’s murderous rath is palpable and just his red lightsaber lighting up is enough to give viewers chills. Same goes for Jedi: Fallen Order; when you see Trilla (Second Sister) freeze up and hear the infamous breaths of Darth Vader, you know it’s over. The game doesn’t even give Vader a health bar; you know you’re already screwed. And in Star Wars Rebels, Vader plays a bigger narrative purpose than these first two, connecting with Anakin’s old Padawan Ahsoka. It’s heartbreaking and hits more for fans of The Clone Wars

All these appearances were meaningful in their own way and are already perfect examples of how to include Darth Vader moving forward. Should he come back as often as possible? No. But is it possible to do it right, even in a spin-off series? Of course. And with the Darth Vader comics creating such a rich backstory to Darth Vader’s time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Disney has a great starting point for a series, if they want it.