Star Wars is famous for its courageous tales of young, gifted Jedi overcoming struggle and temptation in order to bring balance to the Force. But is balance what we have in the tales themselves? Everyone enjoys the story of a few plucky young rebels going against the odds to defeat a massive empire. But over the years, we’ve seen this arc done at least twice across six movies. And if we’re looking for a tale about the dark side, the prequels leave something to be desired. Even though Disney is renowned for making sure the good guy always wins and everything turns out alright in the end, they have all the pieces to put together a different kind of story. One centered around Darth Vader.
The recent Disney+ series Boba Fett was a huge hit and starred one of the canon’s most popular villains. But in that series, as with Maleficent and Cruella, our supposed villain was given a tragic backstory to redeem them to the audience, almost as if we needed permission to enjoy the narrative. In the case of Darth Vader, we’ve already seen his backstory, and there is very little redeeming about it. But Anakin Skywalker was a different person. And even though we have a fairly complete picture of Vader’s life from birth till death, there is a 19-year gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
Here’s why we hope to see Disney make a Darth Vader film.
The Fans want it
In 2019, a popular trailer was released called “Lord Vader: A Star Wars Story.” Though the trailer was just a fan-made clip show cobbled together from bits of movies and video games, it got a lot of attention and actually tricked some people into believing it was real. The fan trailer, while not quite capable of proposing a narrative, did start a conversation, and message boards all over the internet began to blow up with what this movie might look like. Fans seemed very excited to toy with the possibility of a Vader-centered movie. But ironically enough, this huge conversation started nearly a year after Marvel finished releasing a popular comic book run that picked up the story of Darth Vader (2017-2018) almost immediately after the events of the prequel trilogy.
Without giving too much away, the comics follow Vader as he continues to enact order 66, chasing down escaped Jedi and quashing the beginnings of the rebellion while having some character development of his own. The books, much like the trailer, draw on familiar characters and scenes to kind of string together a story that exists between ones we’ve already seen. But something the books do that the trailer doesn’t give us an original story to go along with it, one that already belongs to Marvel and Disney. The creators of this comic book series may have already provided a structure to the movie people so desperately want to see. Of course, there is still plenty of room between where that story ended and the beginning of a New Hope. Or, Disney could always just steamroll right over the comics and leave us to deal with whatever canon they choose. The possibilities are endless.
All the Pieces Are There
While Darth Vader has a well-established through-line when it comes to narrative, he’s a character in the Star Wars universe audiences have only seen adjacent or opposed to the protagonist. That is, naturally, defining Darth Vader as the being who is, as Obi-Wan says, “more machine than man.” Even though many of the large plot points of his life are set in stone, the potential for more is great. A story following the Dark Lord of the Sith could be told from two sides. As the Jedi are all but extinct after Episode III, Vader’s hunt for their remnants could reveal the beginnings of the original Rebellion we see in A New Hope. This, of course, could be told from the perspective of the rebels, constantly on the run from a mythical figure in a cape and helmet. The story could also be about the human, Anakin, and show us exactly what it means to attune oneself with the dark side of the force.
But if the Disney archetype for movies about villains stands, could Darth Vader be redeemed? Sure, his pain comes from the loss of a great love. Still, in a story about him becoming progressively more evil, how much moral ground does that give him? Perhaps we could see Vader as more of a cautionary tale, having been manipulated by the emperor. But then, where does his agency come from? How much individuality could Darth Vader have if it’s entirely someone else’s fault that he exists? But Blade Runner already has a movie, and Star Wars doesn’t normally ask those kinds of questions.
While it may be a bit of a ball of yarn to untangle, a new image of Darth Vader may be closer than you think. The new Obi-Wan Kenobi series is right around the corner, and Hayden Christensen has announced his return to the role of Anakin/Vader. While the show is centered on Obi-Wan, we did see Boba Fett grow out of The Mandalorian using a similar “guest appearance.” And whenever we see a familiar face, it just makes the audience want more.