3 Reasons Rogue One: A Star Wars Story May Have Decided Not To Show Darth Vader

The first full trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dropped today, unveiling a ton of new details about the first anthology series in a planned series of Star Wars films. We saw SO MUCH new information, but we missed one crucial bit of information. First, watch the trailer again:

Do you know who we thought we were going to see, but didn’t? Darth Vader. For various reasons, it’s believed that Lord Vader is going to be a major factor in Rogue One. As we know, this story takes place in the time frame between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin Skywalker transitioned into Darth Vader, and A New Hope… when Vader was an intergalactic badass. One of the reasons why Star Wars would go back in "time" (so to speak) and tell older stories would be to revisit iconic characters like Vader, Yoda, Obi-wan, and so on. But Vader is absent from this first look. Why? We have a few guesses.

They’re Saving Vader For Later

We have the rest of the year to go before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story makes it into theaters, as it opens on December 16. That means there will be plenty more trailers to come, likely during massive fan events like San Diego Comic-Con, or in front of Disney movies like Doctor Strange. Saving Darth Vader makes sense, because you don’t need him today to get fan anticipation up for Rogue One. Even casual fans who don’t know a bit about Rogue One can get excited about the existence of a new Star Wars movie, and recognize the iconic bits (like the Death Star, and new Stormtroopers). Vader would have been a welcome sight, but Disney marketing doesn’t need him… yet.

There’s another obvious reason why Darth Vader was kept out of this trailer. Read on.

The Focus Needs To Be On Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones plays a brand new character to the Star Wars universe, Jyn Erso. As the leader of the Rebel group who will infiltrate the Empire and steal the plans to the Death Star, Erso will have to carry the bulk of Rogue One, and hopefully establish a heroic character who fans might want to follow on subsequent adventures. This is the launching of a new Luke Skywalker, or even a new Rey. Dropping Darth Vader into the first Rogue One trailer would pull too much focus away from Felicity Jones, who does an OUTSTANDING job of establishing Jyn Erso as a badass anti-hero. I mean, look at that image that closed the trailer (above). She is ready for action, and while Gareth Edwards’ first Star Wars movie looks like an ensemble piece, she’s the clear focal point. This first trailer needed to be about her, and not about her chief adversary.

There’s a terrifying reason Darth Vader didn’t show up. Let’s discuss it next.

Maybe Darth Vader Isn’t In Rogue One

So far, it’s mostly rumor and hearsay that Darth Vader will appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And it makes sense, because of the timeline of it all. But we don’t have official studio confirmation that Darth Vader will appear in this movie. So what if he is constantly referenced, but never shows up? There’s precedence for this. The outstanding animated series Star Wars Rebels, which takes place in the years prior to A New Hope, went an entire first season establishing its original characters and its familiar world before it brought Vader in as a villain. And even then, the series used him sparingly, making sure each appearance by the legendary baddie meant something. Rogue One absolutely SHOULD use Vader… but that doesn’t mean that they definitely are going to.

Unless, of course, a key Darth Vader scene was referenced in the trailer, and we just didn’t know. Because this next theory sounds awesome, and I fully believe it to be true.

Jyn Erso v Darth Vader: Dawn of Rogue One

Imagine that. The final shot in the first Rogue One trailer might be part of a longer, crucial sequence that will find new anti-hero Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) facing off against the baddest Star Wars villain in history… Darth Vader. It makes complete sense. Everything that we have been hearing behind the scenes is that Vader gets several action scenes in this movie, and that he’ll be a lethal force who decimates parts of Jyn Erso’s crew. This shot could be from the moment that they finally face each other. Or, it could be wishful thinking. What do you think? Is Darth Vader going to be in this movie? Is it a bait-and-switch by Disney’s brilliant marketing team? Or will there be time to show off Vader, in all of this glory, as the year progresses. Let us know in the comments section below!

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Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.