With Star Wars: The Last Jedi on the horizon, news about the upcoming Han Solo movie has been scarce. But Star Wars fans that loved Darth Vader’s cameo at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be extremely happy with the latest Han Solo rumor. While Disney has yet to confirm, there is at least one report that Vader was seen on the set of Ron Howard’s reshoots. That meshes with rumors that we heard months back, that the Darth Vader “dream team” was back, and putting together another suit similar to the one used in Rogue One.
It would seem that Disney knows where their Star Wars bread is buttered. Despite the fact that Vader, as a character, has been dead since 1983, they’re still finding ways to utilize him in novels, comic books, television, and the movies. We took a look at all the recent news as it relates to Darth Vader, including his cameo in the Han Solo film and how he will be referenced in The Last Jedi.
Appearance in the Han Solo movie
This is the big one. Rumors began to pop up about Darth Vader at a similar rate during production of Rogue One, with fans getting a sense that he would have some role to play in the film. By the time Disney was releasing trailers for the movie, Vader was a major part of the marketing strategy. We haven’t reached that point with the Han Solo movie, which doesn’t even have an official title yet, but it’s possible that the same formula is followed.
As for what Vader could actually be doing in the movie, that much is just speculation. It could be anything from a real role in the plot to just a cameo in a brief sequence. Given that it’s harder to keep a character that is featured prominently a secret, we’re willing to bet that Vader only has a few minutes of screen time – maybe less than what we saw in Rogue One. After all, this movie is about Han Solo, Chewie, Lando Calrissian, and their scoundrel-lives prior to Star Wars: A New Hope.
Anakin returns as a Force ghost
It’s not just the Han Solo movie that will have an appearance from the one and only Darth Vader. Okay, so maybe not actually Darth Vader, but The Last Jedi is rumored to have a cameo scene where the voice of Anakin Skywalker will be heard speaking to Rey. This will actually be Hayden Christensen, who played the Skywalker family patriarch in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
Fans have been wondering for years whether Anakin might return to the franchise. Given that we saw him transform into a Force ghost at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, having him help guide Luke Skywalker made plenty of sense. But Disney was reluctant to jump right into recognizing the prequel trilogy with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, their first live-action Star Wars movie since purchasing the franchise in 2012.
Rogue One teased us with several throwbacks to the prequels – including Jimmy Smits and Genevieve O’Reilly reprising their rebel roles – and had great success. Bringing back Christensen should be welcomed with open arms.
The history of the Skywalker lightsaber
Just like we saw in The Force Awakens, Rey will have another Forceback vision in The Last Jedi, according to YouTuber Mike Zeroh. Originally, her vision in The Force Awakens was to include much more than just that brief moment with her in the hallway on Cloud City. Disney had actually prepared footage from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back to cut into the vision, with Rey watching Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in their fateful duel.
It sounds like we will actually be getting some version of that vision in The Last Jedi. In addition, we will supposedly be getting a montage of the history of the Skywalker lightsaber. Taking that at face value, that could mean flashbacks of Anakin fighting with it, Obi-Wan Kenobi picking it up off the ground on Mustafar, Luke using it for the first time, and the many times it may have changed hands after its discovery at Cloud City.
This scene, alone, may be worth the price of admission for Star Wars fans who are in love with the history of the franchise.
Leia’s family history causes the Resistance to split
The Last Jedi will be introducing Amilyn Holdo (played by Laura Dern) to the big screen. But fans of the new canon novels know that Holdo and Leia Organa have quite the history together. They met as young teens in the Apprentice Legislature on Leia’s home planet of Alderaan. Despite Leia’s aversion to her early on, the two became friends. But some time between the end of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the two had a falling out.
This is going to be because Holdo finds out about Leia’s relation to Darth Vader. It appalls her that a leader in the Resistance could come from the same bloodline of one of the galaxy’s most infamous monsters. The rift between the two causes the Resistance to split from the New Republic, weakening the stance against the First Order.
Kylo Ren has more Vader artifacts
We saw in The Force Awakens that Kylo Ren has the melted helmet of Darth Vader, an artifact that he speaks to, and practically worships. We’ve recently learned from Zeroh that the chambers of the Knights of Ren will be seen in The Last Jedi, and inside we’ll get another look at the melted helmet, as well as the charred remains of a few other pieces of Vader’s suit displayed inside some sort of glass case.
While those rumors have some level of credibility, there is more that should be taken as merely speculation. Some think that the introduction of Vader’s castle on Mustafar in Rogue One will lead to more within The Last Jedi, possibly with Ren making a trip there to connect himself with the dark side of the Force or even to go looking for more Darth Vader artifacts. Ren, himself, will supposedly wear one of his grandfather’s old capes in the film, so it’s easy to speculate that he may have found it on Mustafar.
Snoke uses Vader to manipulate Kylo Ren
In the novelization of The Force Awakens, we’re treated to extended dialog between Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren, where we learn Snoke’s thoughts on Darth Vader and the fall of the Empire.
Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.
Snoke tells him that the sentiment, Vader’s inability to kill his own son, is what brought down the Empire in the moment when they should’ve been crushing the Rebellion. This was his way of manipulating Kylo Ren into killing Han Solo, to rid himself of any fear that sentiment for his father might get in the way of his evil intentions.
There will be another moment in The Last Jedi where Snoke manipulates Ren, this time with a more expanded speech regarding Darth Vader. We know that Kylo idolizes his grandfather, but it’s starting to seem as though he only knows Snoke’s version of what happened.
The future of Star Wars and Darth Vader
Disney has been coy with information about the future of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise, but again, they know where the bread is buttered. As long as fans want more Vader, they’ll get more Vader. There is still the possibility that the character could show up in Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels – as he did in Season 2 – set to premiere this fall.
With an Obi Wan Kenobi movie already apparently in the works, additional Vader appearances in the Anthology series would make sense. So long as Disney keeps focusing on expanding on the post-Revenge of the Sith, pre-Return of the Jedi era, there will be more opportunities to get Vader back into our lives. There is a large segment of the fanbase that even wants a Vader standalone film, although time appears to be running out on that idea.
Without such a film having been announced, you would have to wonder how long James Earl Jones (currently 86 years old) might have left to be voicing the character. Could he do an entire film of Darth Vader at the age of 90? That’s hard to say. But if Disney and Jones decide to do it, you can bet that fans will be lining up at the movie theaters.
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