Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is going to be the definitive ending to the Skywalker Saga, so it's unsurprising that elements from all three trilogies could come into play. There's been rumors aplenty about which elements or characters from past films will work their way into Episode IX. Among the more recent rumors that have floated around is that Anakin Skywalker may be making an appearance.
Will Anakin Skywalker appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? Let's break down the chatter heard regarding his appearance so far, and if he were to return, how the character may be used in the upcoming final installment in the Skywalker Saga, and why I think it would be a good idea.
The Rumors That Hayden Christensen Will Appear As Anakin Skywalker
Recently, there was a bit of news that caught the media's attention, as folks began to notice Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen appearing out in public together. Not long after that news broke, even more intriguing news surfaced that Disney reportedly put the kibosh on the two appearing in a panel together at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. Suspicious much?
It wasn't the first time this year that Anakin Skywalker has been speculated to appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker either, as a rumor earlier this year gave a scene description in which he made an appearance. In the scene in question, Express said Rey would interact with Force Ghost Anakin in the Lost City of The Jedi. Obviously Disney didn't comment on whether the scene was legit or not, so we don't know if is indeed part of The Rise of Skywalker.
With all of that being said, it does feel like the entire sequel trilogy has been leading up to some cameo in which Hayden Christensen reprises his role as Anakin Skywalker. Kylo Ren is obsessed with his grandfather, but only knows a bit of his story. This upcoming movie feels like the perfect chance for him to pop up and talk some of Vader's mission out, and how he was ultimately disallusioned by it.
How Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Could Use Anakin Skywalker
The most obvious way Hayden Christensen could return as Anakin Skywalker is as a Force Ghost, and serve as a guide of sorts to either Rey or Kylo Ren. Rey seems like the more obvious choice given Anakin is technically redeemed as a Jedi in canon, but given that neither Force user has seen a ghost yet, we can't really guarantee who he'd appear before.
Plus, there's other ways for Hayden Christensen to appear that don't involve him showing up as a force ghost. For example, he could appear in one of Rey's Force visions, an on-screen flashback of events past, or perhaps Emperor Palpatine's manipulation of a memory he shared with a pre-Vader Anakin. Obviously Anakin could appear as Vader as well in the film, but Disney wouldn't need Christensen in the portrayal in that case.
Now, to just dip a toe into the weirder theories, let's talk about clones. It has been well-established in Legends canon that Palpatine was a fan of clones, specifically cloning himself. What if, as part of his contingency plan, he cloned his greatest asset, Anakin Skywalker? Then, he went about training an army of Anakin clones in the Dark Side with his DNA. One of them was rescued and left on Jakku to be hidden away. Her name was Rey!
Ok, that last theory may be a little bonkers, but the point is made. There's a lot of ways Hayden Christensen could be brought back to play Anakin Skywalker, which makes it hard to just assume how the movie will use him. With that said, a Force Ghost or flashback appearance sound like the most probable scenarios so far, especially with this film being the last of the Skywalker saga.
Should Anakin Skywalker Return In Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker?
In a Star Wars universe where Anakin's litany of evil deeds were undone by one single act of mercy towards his own flesh and blood, I absolutely believe Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker needs to bring back in Force ghost Anakin. It would be great to see how he feels about everything he's done in the decades since becoming a Force ghost, and how he lives with those sins now.
It'd be a refreshing take on Force ghosts, especially given Obi-Wan and Yoda both skated over to the afterlife with very few regrets. Anakin, on the other hand, has a litany of things he did as Vader that he has to regret and now live with in his spectral form. Did he spend that time depressed, or did he try and get to know the son he only learned of late in life? Official canon does state that Luke was in contact with Anakin's ghost over the years, so what did they talk about?
Finally, let's remember that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the conclusion of the Skywalker saga. Anakin Skywalker is a huge part of this story and needs to have some part in this sequel trilogy, no matter how small. Preferably I'd like his appearance to expand upon the plot in some way, or maybe be the key to a major reveal. Let's give this trilogy a real "Luke, I am your father" moment!
Will Anakin Skywalker Appear In Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker?
It's a question we can't answer with certainty, although I can personally say that there's a lot of evidence that indicates it's probably happening. To start, Disney really tipped its hand by reportedly stopping a panel in which Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid were set to appear together. Obviously stopping the panel may have fueled speculation Christensen will appear, but it may have also prevented much bigger spoilers from being revealed.
And considering there was already speculation that Hayden Christensen would be appearing, that's really not the biggest problem in the world. Even now we're still unsure of whether or not Anakin Skywalker will be appearing, so provided Disney can continue to keep the lid on details of The Rise of Skywalker for a few more months, we can be surprised all over again when we see it on screen.
It really shouldn't be all that surprising to begin with though, as Anakin Skywalker is one of the most important characters in the Skywalker Saga. He could've destroyed the Sith, but he joined them, and then later helped destroy the Empire, which led to the First Order. It just doesn't make sense to completely exclude him from the sequel trilogy, especially with Christensen available and still largely resembling his past self.
So while I can't say with certainty that Hayden Christensen will be appearing, it's hard to imagine a scenario where Disney balked on using him if he was available to make a cameo appearance. After all, it's an easy way to tie into the prequel films which haven't gotten a lot of play in the sequel trilogy, and a chance to use someone from that era in a meaningful story that involves the Emperor. If Disney isn't using Christensen for an Anakin cameo, it would be a mistake.
Do you think Anakin Skywalker will make an appearance in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? Be sure to vote in our poll and see the film in theaters Friday, December 20. As always, continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest news in the world of movies and television.
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Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.