Plenty of expectations are riding on J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but on closer inspection, Star Wars: Rogue One has an even more difficult burden to bear. Disney is attempting to turn the franchise into the latest “shared universe,” but by exploring different timelines, it’s really more of a multiverse of opportunities, and Rogue One will be the first test of whether this experiment is sustainable in terms of story.
More from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Are Cassian and Jyn Star Wars’ most tragic potential romance?
- 5 Rogue One characters who should appear in Andor Season 2
- Who is Sergeant Jyn Erso of ‘Rogue One’ explained
- Who is Captain Cassian Andor of the Rebel Alliance explained
- Gareth Edwards describes initial conversation with George Lucas about Rogue One
Such a wide net needs anchor points to connect the movies together in fans’ minds, and it appears that Rogue One has recruited a certain Dark Lord of the Sith for the job.
According to Devin Faraci over at Birth.Movies.Death, Darth Vader is set to appear in the spinoff film, which focuses on a group of Rebel spies in between Episode III and IV who are attempting to steal the Death Star plans. Faraci says Vader won’t be the main villain (an as-yet-unnamed character to be played by Ben Mendelsohn), but instead, he will have more of a background presence.
SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2015: Which Force Awakens Cast Members May Appear?
He supposedly won’t even appear in person, showing up instead in a hologram or on a video screen.
Plenty of people, such as Faraci, have speculated that Grand Moff Tarkin will be the chief antagonist, and it makes sense considering his position at the Death Star. He’s clearly a character that Lucasfilm is interested in exploring based on his appearance in Star Wars Rebels as well as his own standalone novel Tarkin.
The real trick for Gareth Edwards and the filmmakers of Rogue One will be balancing these villains so that they don’t upstage each other, assuming they all do appear. It will also be important to make sure Vader plays a significant role in the plot and not just be used for fan service. I’d love to see more of Vader in his prime, hunting down Jedi and rebel fighters after Order 66, but every scene with the Dark Lord should leave an impression or risk diluting his menace.
This also begs the question of who would play the Sith Lord. My guess is that he will be confined to a digital projection so that the filmmakers can keep him CGI and not have to recast a body actor. As for the voice, there’s no reason not to continue letting James Earl Jones say the lines. The actor returned to the part for Star Wars Rebels, and slipped into the role again seamlessly.
You may be able to recast Han Solo, but ain’t no one fit to step into the shoes of Vader.