Anakin Skywalker almost returned to Star Wars in The Force Awakens. To be more specific, Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker almost retuned to Star Wars in The Force Awakens and may yet do so in Episode VIII. Read on for more...
I'm sure many people are shuddering at the thought of Hayden's return to the franchise, I'm certain more than one uttered the phrase 'Manakin Skywalker' when they heard this news, but let's not be too hasty here. Hayden Christensen isn't a terrible actor. It's unfair to judge the guy on his Star Wars turn because, well, George ain't that great a director. Wouldn't you be interested to see what Hayden could have done under the guidance of J.J. Abrams? With practical effects keeping him grounded? What about Hayden working with Gareth Edwards or Rian Johnson? Well buckle up, because one of these things almost happened, and the other two just might.
Below is a tweet which contains an image of a version of Anakin that almost made it to The Force Awakens. Below that is a quote from artist Iain Mcaig about the concept of bringing the character back as a Force ghost.
The Force Awakens Spoilers Follow
So Anakin might have returned as a Force ghost, but to whom? I like to think it would have been Luke and that Luke's reduced screen time was the reason the concept was abandoned. The other option was that Anakin would appear to Kylo Ren, who we learn I the movie is actually Ben, Han and Leia's son, which makes him Anakin's grandson. Kylo Ren has a line in The Force Awakens where he asks Darth Vader to, "show me again, the power of the Dark Side" implying that he has already contacted Anakin through the Force. This fits with Iain McCaig's 'candle' analogy, and suggests that a dark side of Anakin made it over to become one with the light. I have an issue with this. Does it not diminish Anakin's redemption if some of his darker tenancies survived? I like the way Kylo Ren communed with Vader's mask, that this buckled and burnt remnant was his only touchstone, that it was the memory of Vader, not Anakin, that influenced Kylo Ren and the choices he made. I'd be interested if Rian Johnson were to explore this in Episode VIII. That the seduction of Ben Solo started with Snoke telling Darth Vader stories and building a keg end around Anakin Skywalker, but Ben's decent was largely driven by his delusion and his wilful transformation into Kylo Ren. It would also make for a fascinating narrative, if Hayden's Anakin was to return as a Force Ghost helping to guide Rey.
Imagine Luke teaching Rey to commune with the living Force and her talking with Force Ghost Anakin. Remember, she has already heard from both Yoda and Obi-Wan in The Force Awakens, so there's no reason this couldn't happen. We could hear Anakin's perspective on the events of the prequels and get expostional dialogue that reveals who Snoke is and what his interests are. All the while we can cut away to Kylo Ren's training with Snoke and see his one sided conversations with Vaders helmet. The juxtaposition of these concepts would be fascinating, and a fitting return for Hayden Christensens Anakin Skywalker.
Could We See Hayden Return Earlier?
Chatter started earlier this year that Hayden was training for something being shit in the United Kingdom. Early speculation was The Force Awakens, but I stumbled across something that suggested Rogue One. Brian Muir, the sculptor responsible for Darth Vader, among other things, was brought into The Force Awakens to help create the "Relic Vader" mask. In the autumn Brian announced on his facebook page that he was joining the production of Rogue One. Why? Well it should be noted that Brian also Kepler create the Stormtroopers in Star Wars (1977), and that these are in use for Rogue One. It should also be noted that shots including the OG Stormtroopers was already well underway when Brian joined the project. I'm suggesting that Brian Muir has been brought in to develop Darth Vader for use in Rogue One.
If I'm correct what we might see next December, even if it's simply a cameo, is Hayden Christensen as Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I also suggested recently thatthis would present an interesting opportunity to explore what remains of Anakin if we ever get to peek under that mask.
What do you think? Would you welcome Hayden Christensen back to Star Wars? Could we see Vader in Rogue One? Would Anakin's ghost appearing to Rey and not Kylo Ren fascinate you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below...
Thank you for reading,