Some spoilers ahead for The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought the original, beloved characters of the Star Wars franchise to a brand new generation of young fans. While just about everyone showed up to varying degrees, one character never had the chance to pop up: Darth Vader. His influence is most certainly felt throughout the movie – particularly with regards to Kylo Ren’s mission – but the character himself never appears in any major way. According to a new book being published to accompany the film, that was not always the case.
A report from CB indicates that a new book chronicling the artwork of The Force Awakens – aptly titled The Art Of Star Wars: The Force Awakens – indicates that the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) was at one point going to appear in the film. With the images so fleshed out, there' a strong possibility it might be used at a later date. Check out some of the concept art originally used below.
The art also seems to indicate that the ghost of Vader would have not been a completely redeemed Anakin. The images presented showcase an angry spirit blended with equal parts Anakin and Vader. One of the images even shows a version of the character whose mechanical components have actually become part of his own body, rather than a suit worn to keep him alive. It’s a somewhat cool concept but also somewhat harkens back to the terrible version of Doctor Doom in this summer’s Fant4stic.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the younger version of Darth Vader has popped up in the continuity of the original trilogy. As many fans know – and possibly loathe – Christiansen also appeared at the end of Return of the Jedi, replacing Sebastian Shaw as the final Force ghost of the redeemed Sith lord in the 2004 DVD special edition. However, the book seems to indicate that The Force Awakens would be considered the "first" time Vader appears as a Force ghost, leading us to believe that the changes made in the DVD special edition are not considered canon.
While the Star Wars prequels certainly represent a black eye for the franchise, the creative forces behind the most recent Star Wars film have not forgotten their existence. In addition to a potential appearance by Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, The Force Awakens also featured a brief voiceover cameo by actor Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi during Rey’s brief yet surreal vision quest. If nothing else it shows that those involved in the progression of the saga do not want to forget that the prequels ever occurred; they simply wish to take what worked, and discard what didn’t.
The Force Awakens is already a fairly crowded movie; even Luke Skywalker gets pushed to the wings and away from the spotlight. As awesome as it would have been to see Vader again, it’s probably for the best that the focus was placed firmly on our new ensemble of characters. That being said, we look forward to the possibility that future episodes may include the fallen Jedi. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now in theaters.