ig black mask and cloak. Heavy, robotic breathing. Tortured backstory. Cool theme music – and a thing for strangulation-by-Force. Darth Vader isn’t just the most memorable Star Wars villain; he’s also quite possibly the best big-screen baddie of all time. And now, it looks as if he could be back.
Hayden Christensen, who starred as the adult Anakin Skywalker (who goes on to become Vader) in the Star Wars prequels, could be returning to play the famous Sith Lord in Rian Johnson’s forthcoming Star Wars Episode VIII.
The rumour was reported by the website Making Star Wars, with editor-in-chief Jason Ward claiming to have been told that: “A team in the UK are soon heading to the US to begin training Hayden Christensen for a Star Wars: Episode VIII appearance of some sort”.
There’s no official confirmation of the report, and Ward advises that he himself is taking the story with a pinch of salt. The prequels, after all, were never as popular as the original three films, and not everyone was a fan of Christensen’s performance. Because of this Disney, who own the Star Wars production studio Lucasfilm, might be more inclined to distance themselves from the films, rather than deliberately forge links to them.
That said, a return for Vader isn’t too far-fetched. While the villain was shown to have died at the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (after a last-minute change of heart/realisation that good parents don’t allow their sons to be tortured in front of them), fans have suggested that he could be returning as a Force Ghost, or possibly appearing in flashback scenes.
Other rumours have suggested that Adam Driver’s Sith Lord Kylo Ren – whom many expect will be the key villain in the new trilogy – is something of a Vader fanboy, idolising the fallen leader. Perhaps Vader could appearin one of Ren’s visions? Plus, let’s not forget that tantalising shot of the character’s iconic black helmet, shown in the very first Star Wars trailer.
Finally, there’s also a financial angle to consider: bringing back one of the franchise’s most recognisable villains could increase Disney’s potential to cash in on lucrative Vader merchandise.
Star Wars Episode VIII is released on May 26 2017. It will be preceded by the seventh instalment in the Star Wars series, JJ Abrams’s The Force Awakens, released this December, and by Gareth Edwards’s standalone spin-off, Star Wars: Rogue One, released in December 2016. A separate rumour, also reported by Making Star Wars, suggests that Vader could also briefly show up in Rogue One.
Earlier this year, Variety reported that Benicio Del Toro was in talks to play an unnamed villain in Episode VIII.