The closer we get to seeing actual new Star Wars movies on the big screen, the more we hear, and the more outlandish the rumors we hear get. One new report making the rounds is especially strange, and indicates that Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII might bring back another previous cast member, but not a cast member from the original trilogy, a cast member from the prequels.
First, there are potential SPOILERS beyond this point. Second, make sure to take this with a giant grain of salt. Maybe treat it as an interesting oddity rather than set-in-stone fact. That said, here we go…
According to Making Star Wars, who have been all over the new Star Wars beat, Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, may be coming back for Episode VIII. Again, they stress this is a rumor, but one of their sources told them:
A team in the U.K. are soon heading to the U.S. to begin training Hayden Christensen for a Star Wars: Episode VIII appearance of some sort.
This is interesting for a few reasons. The biggest is, if this is true, and that is a big if, you have to wonder about his role. What exactly is he "training" for? The easiest way to imagine him coming back is as a Force Ghost, maybe showing up to offer Luke Skywalker a bit of insight or wisdom in a tough time. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t think it requires much training—Christensen showed up in 90 Minutes in Heaven recently and looks to still be in good shape, and likely wouldn’t be required to do much physically.
Could this possibly mean he’ll show up in a flashback? And if that’s the case, is he Anakin or Vader? If they went through the effort of getting Hayden Christensen, you have to presume that it’s because he’ll be recognizable as such, that they want people to see his face, while if it is Vader, they could have had any number of people don the iconic suit and no one would be the wiser. (Remember those rumors that professional wrestler Sheamus was going to play Vader for The Force Awakens?)
Also, up to now, the new slate of films has seemingly done its best to remain separate from the prequels. They’re still official canon, but the focus has been on establishing links between the new episodes and the original trilogy. It makes sense given that the new stories follow those, but the lack of prequel talk has been noticeable (director J.J. Abrams has even said that there will be no talk of Midichlorians).
The MSW report also notes that they keep hearing persistent rumors about Darth Vader possibly showing up in Gareth Edwards’ Star Wars: Rogue One. Christensen hasn’t been linked to that film (the report only mentions him in connection to Episode VIII), but there is concept art of Vader going around, and there is supposedly at least a Darth Vader helmet and working chest piece in the prop department—but just one, almost as if it will just be seen somewhere.
The film takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, during Vader’s heyday, so seeing him here wouldn’t be a huge shock—the plot revolves around stolen plans for the Death Star, and when something big like that happens, you put your best guy on it, and that’s Vader. Still, this, like the Episode VIII rumor is rather spurious.
We’ll have to wait to see if either of these rumors have any merit. In the meantime, do you like the idea of Hayden Christensen/Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader showing up in some capacity in the new Star Wars movies, or do you just want them to move along?