Will Ob-Wan Kenobi show use de-aging technology?

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Fans of The Mandalorian were blown away at the end of the second season when a young Luke Skywalker showed up in the final episode. Thanks to advances in technology Luke was able to appear in the show barely older than his appearance in Return of the Jedi, despite Mark Hamill being almost seventy when the scene was filmed.  Lucasfilm apparently doubled down on this feat by having the character re-appear in The Book of Boba Fett earlier this year, with improved CGI, letting the character move and emote in ways that weren’t possible with the earlier model of young Luke.

As we continue to explore Star Wars stories set in between the main films, we will continue to have to deal with characters who are a vastly different age than the actors who originally portrayed them. This has been dealt with by recasting the role, even as recently as the Solo movie in 2018, but as technology advances, it seems like using CGI de-aging technology is becoming more and more of a possibility.

Now, there are rumors surfacing that de-aging will once again be used in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series, scheduled to air later this year on Disney+. While we don’t know much about the rumors yet, it seems to be centered around the idea that the technology will be used to de-age Hayden Christensen as he returns to his role of Darth Vader.

At first glance, this might seem odd. After all, the series is scheduled to take place after Revenge of the Sith when Darth Vader is put in his full suit of armor, and his face is never seen. Even if we were to get a shot of Vader without his helmet on, the character is supposed to be scarred almost beyond recognition beneath the mask. The creation of those scars would likely be the result of a makeup job, and not necessarily something that CGI is needed for. So why would the show need to de-age Hayden Christensen?

Given what we know, the most likely scenario is that there will be some flashbacks at some point in the series, meaning that Christensen will be portraying Anakin Skywalker before his fall to the dark side and taking the name Darth Vader. If this is the case, it’s more than likely that these flashbacks will take place either between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, or during The Clone Wars. Either case is exciting.

On one hand, the time period between the first two Star Wars episodes is still largely unexplored. There were some novels and comics released that covered that time period, but most of that was swept away into Legends canon when Disney bought Lucasfilm, and is still mostly a blank slate in the new timeline. It would be interesting to see what happened in the ten year gap between these two movies.

The other (and probably more likely scenario) is that we’ll see some flashback scenes that take place during the Clone Wars. This is obviously a well explored era in the Star Wars universe with other a hundred episodes of the animated series detailing the events of the Clone Wars. Still, the live action depictions of that time frame are mostly limited to the final act of Episode II and the opening sequence of Episode III. It would be very interesting to see what the creators wanted to explore in that era, especially how something from the Clone Wars might pertain to an Obi-Wan much later in his life.

Whatever storylines the show is exploring, we still don’t know. Like most everything related to Star Wars, the development of the show has been shrouded in secrecy, with most of the information coming from rumors and speculation. But whatever the showrunners set their mind to, it seems like technology won’t be the thing that stops them from telling the story that they want to tell. We’ll find out when Obi-Wan Kenobi premiers on May 25th, this year.

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