Could Darth Vader Be the Focus of the First Stand-alone Star Wars Movie?

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As we all know, the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney opened up possibilities that we thought were closed forever.  Not only are we getting a new Star Wars trilogy, but Disney, taking a page out of their dealings with Marvel, is planning a number of stand-alone movies as well.  These movies would likely focus on single characters, both old and new, and give them a chance to have adventures that were outside the normal arc of the trilogies.

While no definitive answers have been given to who might get such a focus, the typical names bandied about by fans included Han Solo, Boba Fett, even Yoda.  However, perhaps an even more iconic figure could be returning to the silver screen.

Yesterday, the writer of the first Star Wars movie to not have “Episode” in its title (unless you count The Clone Wars, which you really shouldn’t) Tweeted out this picture:

Now, as obsessed fans, we tend to try to take any scrap of information, whether it is actually there or not, and blow it up into a huge deal.  Given the level of secrecy around the Star Wars films, this isn’t going to go away anytime soon.  What looks like an innocent enough picture can and will be scrutinized like pictures from the old USSR used to be.  So play a little “what if” with me.  What if the positioning of this picture wasn’t just a casual thing?   Could it be that the first stand-alone movie from this new collaboration will focus on the Dark Lord of the Sith?

When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.  There’s little more marketable out of the whole Star Wars line than Darth Vader.  Everyone knows the black armor, the iconic helmet, the stentorian breathing.  Yet, unless they stretch more than Lando Calrissian trying to avoid the Sarlacc, there doesn’t seem to be a way to get that icon into the new trilogy.  Vader’s story is seemingly ended and it would be very strange to see him in a setting thirty years after his demise.  There’s no doubt that this is science fantasy and if they want Vader into the new trilogy, they could get him (or at least his armor, perhaps worn by a new threat) into it, but it would really strain credulity and be a misstep, I believe.

The stand-alones, however, aren’t constrained to the timeline of the trilogies, though.  We could easily see Vader just coming into his power after Revenge of the Sith, hunting down Jedi and establishing the Empire.  We could see a movie with him and Grand Moff Tarkin, perhaps tracking down a Rebel cell.  There are plenty of possibilities within the time frame of the missing years of Luke and Leia’s childhood.

It could also help burnish Vader’s image.  Think about it, the last thing we ever heard from Vader was him screaming “Nooooooo” after the death of Padme.  There’s no doubt that the prequels didn’t do much to elevate the standing of Anakin Skywalker, at least not in many people’s minds, so this would give Vader a chance to be that menacing figure, that person that strikes fear into people’s hearts just by being in the same building as them.  We see what Vader was like in the original trilogy, so this movie could help us recapture that fear and trembling.

The only downside to focusing a movie on an evil person is the rooting interest.  Do we really want to cheer Vader as he cuts down a batch of Rebels?  It’s tough to say that a person is not the likable one in his own movie, but that seems to be the snag here.  Unless you pit Vader against another evil threat, so he’s kinda the lesser of two evils in the audience’s mind.  Something like his chess match with Prince Xizor in Shadows of the Empire, a book now not canon but still available as a resource.

You have to figure that Disney wants to find some way to get Darth Vader back on the big screen, to make it easier to sell Vader-themed merchandise.  Will a movie focusing on the Sith Lord be the way they do it?  What do you think?