We know Darth Vader will appear in Rogue One, but what does that mean for the very first standalone film in the Star Wars franchise?
When Entertainment Weekly confirmed earlier this year that Darth Vader would make a triumphant return to the screen, Star Wars fans collectively erupted in joy. And not just some lame voice modified version of the galaxy’s baddest villain, the James Earl Jones would be reprising the role at age 85.
Thanks to Rogue One’s setting, prior to A New Hope, we were also spared any soap opera clone/evil twin nonsense, so the Vader we get will be the genuine article. So what does that mean for Rogue One, the first in what Disney hopes will be a long line of spin-offs from the main series characters and narrative?
First and foremost I believe Vader’s presence serves as a touch stone for casual Star Wars fans. We like to think that every Star Wars fan can name the medical droid that patched up Luke Skywalker at the end of Empire Strikes Back (2-1B), but a series set outside the main narrative, bereft of the franchise’s most recognizable characters remains a risky proposition (with respect to Mon Mothma).
So what better way to bring in casual fans than to bring back the world’s most recognizable villain? Vader enjoys a notoriety among even non Star Wars fans rarely seen in the Americana lexicon. Everyone knows who Vader is, even if you haven’t seen a single Star Wars film. Vader’s presence brings instant credibility to the role, even if it boils down to an extended cameo.
Vader also serves as a logical means to bridge the gap between the Revenge of the Sith, and A New Hope. Recall that at the end of Sith we witnessed Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Moff Tarkin overseeing the construction of the Death Star.
We know Rogue One will tell us the story of the Rebels ultimately successful attempts to steal the plans for said Death Star. We also know from the opening moments of A New Hope that Vader handles the Empire’s response to the theft of the plans personally, so logic says Vader will play a large role in Rogue One; especially if the Rebels led by Jyn Erso are able to obtain the plans early on in the movie.
via Entertainment Weekly
So not only will Vader serve as means to attract casual fans, but appears likely to serve as the film’s primary villain. Vader does not have to interact heavily with our cast of Rebels, think any good heist or detective movie; the lead detective usually spends most of the movie pursuing rather than interacting with his or her quarry.
Who better to track down the Rebels that just stole the plans for the Empire’s biggest terror project than Palpatine’s attack dog? So not only do we get to see Vader growing in his early days as Palpatine’s right hand man, Rogue One’s profile is immediately raised with Vader’s presence and it establishes the stakes of the events in the movie.
Vader isn’t around for routine matters, he handles only the situations of utmost importance. This should be fun.