Darth Vader stole the show in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, both in his scene with Director Orson Krennic and the hallway scene at the end of the film. Originally there was a much different ending for him and the movie as a whole, though.
Reshoots caused Rogue One to change in many ways. Huge scenes teased in the trailers–including Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO dashing across the beaches of Scarif with the Death Star plans and Jyn facing down a TIE fighter – were noticeably absent from the film because of the reshoots. Those weren’t the only significant changes. More and more of the changes have come to light over time, now including the original ending for Darth Vader conceptualized long before the reshoots ever happened.
In an interview with Cinema Blend, writer Gary Whitta reveals what he envisioned for Vader at the end of the film:
"The version I pitched (but never wrote) had Vader on the Scarif beach single-handedly slaughtering his way through a Rebel blockade at the base of the Imperial tower. The version in the Raddus hallway works much better because it’s so contained, feels more horror than action.More from Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryAre Cassian and Jyn Star Wars’ most tragic potential romance?5 Rogue One characters who should appear in Andor Season 2Who is Sergeant Jyn Erso of ‘Rogue One’ explainedWho is Captain Cassian Andor of the Rebel Alliance explainedGareth Edwards describes initial conversation with George Lucas about Rogue One"
The hallway scene worked incredibly well and is arguably the most iconic and memorable moment from the film. This alternate version on the beaches of Scarif does sound mighty intriguing, though. Vader showed raw, unbridled power in the hallway scene, but in the open space of Scarif could’ve demonstrated even more frightening and impressive abilities. As epic as the hallway scene was, this could’ve been even more epic.
Vader’s wrath could’ve had an even more emotional impact on Scarif since he could’ve crossed paths with the protagonists of Rogue One instead of just slaying nameless rebels. The deaths of Chirrut, Baze Malbus, and Bodhi Rook would’ve changed drastically and perhaps been even more devastating if they perished at the hands of Vader. Even Jyn, Cassian, or K-2SO could’ve faced this fate as before the reshoots they raced across the beaches of Scarif.
In the final version of Rogue One, the Death Star plans were retrieved and transmitted to the Rebel Alliance in the same location. It used to be two locations, which is why the scenes of them running across the beaches exist as they had to transmit the plans in a different place than where they retrieved them. Vader could’ve cut down Cassian or K-2SO on their way, leaving Jyn on her own to transmit the plans.
Vader on Scarif hints at other drastic changes to the end. For the practical reason that Darth Vader is in the original trilogy and the in-universe reason that the Emperor would never forgive Grand Moff Tarkin for killing Vader, if Vader was on Scarif the Death Star would not be able to fire on it with single-reactor ignition as it does in the film. Without the Death Star obliterating the Imperial base on the surface, Jyn and some of the other rebels might’ve survived. The same holds true for Director Krennic. It’s possible they’d all still die, only at the hands of Darth Vader instead of the Death Star.
This ending probably wouldn’t have tied into the beginning of A New Hope as directly either. The shot of Vader seeing the Tantive IV fleeing with the Death Star plans might not have worked with Vader on Scarif.
The final version of Rogue One worked wonders and we’re happy with what we received. Still, it’s fun to think about how it could’ve been different, especially where Darth Vader is concerned.
Would you liked to have seen this alternate ending with Darth Vader on Scarif? Let us know in the comments below!