Four episodes of Obi Wan Kenobi have now been released, with the bulk of its story now available to watch. And while Ewan McGregor’s return as the character has been praised, Obi Wan Kenobi’s other returning actor, Hayden Christensen, has had a more muted response. But this isn’t because of a poor performance, but because the actor hasn’t appeared in the show as much as expected.
Hayden Christensen’s return to Star Wars rightly brought a huge amount of buzz from the fanbase, and many were excited to see him and McGregor unite on screen. His portrayal of Darth Vader was also highly anticipated, as he hasn’t had a fair crack at the character.
However, the first four episodes are likely to disappoint these fans. Hayden Christensen hasn’t been featured in much content where the audience can tell it’s definitely him. He appeared briefly in Episode Two and Three, and was credited as Darth Vader in Episode Four. However, because the character wears a full suit of armor and James Earl Jones provides the voice, it’s extremely hard to tell when Christensen is in the suit or not. To put it another way, Obi Wan Kenobi lacks Hayden Christensen’s face.
This problem isn’t confined to Vader however. Many fans have tried to work out when Pedro Pascal was in the suit of the Mandalorian, and when it was a stunt double. But this time the question is more prominent, as the marketing for the show focused heavily on Hayden Christensen’s return to the franchise.
Christensen’s face only appears in two episodes, begging the question why Lucasfilm brought him back in the first place. The first reason is so the show could use it as a marketing point. The prequels are undergoing a revival within the fanbase, not just because of the additional prequel content that Disney has put out recently (Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven, Star Wars: The Bad Batch and bringing several prequel characters and events into The Mandalorian), but because of memes. Fans can’t help but quote these films, a testament to their staying power.
Hayden Christensen has been a beneficiary of this revival, and Lucasfilm would want to coast off this feeling in their marketing. While a cynical analysis, it undoubtedly played a factor in Lucasfilm’s choice to bring him back.
But as there are two episodes of Obi Wan Kenobi, it’s highly possible that Hayden Christensen may have a bigger role in the final two episodes, with scenes depicting his face. These could occur via a flashback or if Obi Wan slashes Vader’s mask, similar to the season finale of Star Wars: Rebels. Both would also allow Hayden to have a speaking role, the latter would feel extremely similar to Vader’s and Ahsoka’s encounter on Malachor. The break in at Fortress Inquisitorius could have felt similar to Jedi: Fallen Order’s break in, but Obi Wan Kenobi largely avoids this. Therefore, it’s likely that the show will steer clear from a similar beat in Rebels.
Another reason for Hayden’s return and lack of screen time is because it’s a prelude to a bigger role in future projects. Hayden’s appearance in the upcoming Ahsoka show is heavily rumoured, and it would likely be a substantial role, not to mention a key emotional beat in the show, be that through a flashback or as a Force Ghost. Therefore, Hayden’s limited role in Obi Wan Kenobi is a way to ease the actor back into the Star Wars universe, in preparation for a bigger role. This would be both a blessing and a curse, as fans would understandably be amazed by an emotional scene between Anakin and Ahsoka, but it comes at the expense of a larger role in Obi Wan Kenobi.
No matter the case, Hayden Christensen’s appearance in Obi Wan Kenobi is nothing more than heart-warming. The actor received a lot of criticism for his performance in the prequels, and the fact he has even returned at all shows the love he has for Star Wars. It’s hard not to be happy with this, even though his face has so far been used sparingly. Whatever the last two episodes of Obi Wan Kenobi hold in store for the actor, audiences should remember this.
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