It's hard to believe that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has already been in theaters for three weeks. The first standalone film in the Star Wars franchise carried a ton of weight, as it attempted to bring back characters that we haven't seen in quite some time. And no character was at hotly anticipated as Darth Vader himself, who stole a handful of scenes in Rogue One. Part of why fans enjoyed Vader in the film so much was because he was a bad guy again. Any trace of Hayden Christiansen's whiney Anakin Skywalker was gone, and we got the badass villain we know and love from the originals. Well, it turns out that Vader's vulnerability did make it into the film, courtesy of director Gareth Edwards.
I'm jealous of moments like in Empire Strikes Back where you see the back of [Vader's] head and you just go, 'Oh my God, that is so cool,' and wanted to try and find something like that in our film. [The bacta tank scene] was actually a Chris Cunningham-inspired thing of the idea of being in milk [like in the Bjork music video] All Is Full Of Love. He's really a burns victim, and it's not going to be fun for him when he's not in the suit -- he's going to be uncomfortable. I love the idea of showing that he's vulnerable as well. Vader's very, very bad, and so you try and just glimpse something of him that gives him some humanity, or it makes you empathize with him. Just seeing those scars and realizing that he's, you know, an amputee, and just reminding you of that before he does all his stuff, it makes you torn, I think. He's just such a rich character, in so many ways.
Pretty awesome, right? Darth Vader is one of the most intriguing characters in cinema, and as such he needed to be approached delicately. And Gareth Edwards did just that.
Seeing Darth Vader in his bacta tank was a very surprising reintroduction to the character. Vader remained mysterious in the original trilogy, so we didn't get to see a ton of what his life was, outside of causing havoc and looking awesome. But we do know how badly Vader's body (or what's left of it) was burned after his final battle with Obi-Wan. Seeing how seemingly weak the Sith Lord actually is was shocking, and instantly had the audience captivated.
Gareth Edwards also succeeded in not giving Darth Vader too much humanity. He's a bonafide villain at the point Rogue One is set, so fans wanted to see him be a badass. And they weren't disappointed.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is currently in theaters now, complete with Darth Vader himself.