‘Star Wars’: This One Thing Has Fans Thinking Anakin Skywalker Is Returning

The Rise of Skywalker is one of the most highly anticipated movies ever made, so fans are speculating as to what J. J. Abrams has in store for audiences. One of the more interesting theories regarding the film is that it will feature the return of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. Most fan theories are just that: theories.  Yet, this particular theory may be supported by evidence.

Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiamid attend the Redbull Star Wars Grand Prix Party.

A tantalizing theory

Anakin Skywalker
Anakin Skywalker

CinemaBlend reported that, earlier this year, Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid (the actor most known for portraying the villainous Emperor Palpatine) visited a children’s hospital in Salt Lake City to meet fans. Some believe that this act of kindness doubled as a marketing tactic for the new film, meaning that Hayden Christensen could reprise his role as Anakin. Soon after, Disney cancelled a panel featuring the two actors at a fan convention. This led some to believe that the Walt Disney Company did not want to draw any attention to Christensen so as to keep his appearance in the new film a surprise.

If Christensen was part of a different franchise, this sort of speculation might be a touch ridiculous. However, death is not final in the Star Wars universe. From Obi-Wan Kenobi instructing Luke Skywalker from beyond the grave in A New Hope to Yoda and Anakin Skywalker appearing as ghosts in Return of the Jedi to Palpatine’s apparent resurrection in the trailers for The Rise of Skywalker, the franchise has made it clear that it’s no great feat for Jedi Knights and Sith Lords to cheat death. 

Unanswered questions

Anakin Skywalker - Force Ghost, Star Wars
Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi

Of course, Anakin’s return would raise some major questions. First of all, why is it that he would only return from the grave now?  In the three decades or so since his death, did nothing else happen that was worth his time? He clearly figured out how to turn himself into a ghost in Return of the Jedi, so it’s not as if he just figured out how to rise from the dead. Are there special preconditions for a Jedi to become a ghost that the franchise hasn’t revealed to the audience yet?

Furthermore, if Christensen is reprising the role of Anakin Skywalker,  that would mean that his ghost form resembles what he looked like when he was a young man. That would be fine, if not for the fact that when Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi returned as Force ghosts, they clearly resembled their older selves. Why is it that Anakin gets to be a young-looking ghost while Obi-Wan has to be an older-looking ghost?  Do Jedis get any control of what they look like in the afterlife? If so, does Obi-Wan just like looking like a senior citizen? Or is it just that Anakin Skywalker is particularly vain and obsessed with youth? 

The art of J. J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams in 2013
J.J. Abrams

The Rise of Skywalker was directed by J. J. Abrams; two of the major recurring motifs in J. J. Abrams’ work are a reliance on nostalgia and stories that raise more questions than they answer.  If Anakin Skywalker is returning from the netherworld, it would create a potent mix of nostalgia and mystery that is quintessentially Abrams.