Everything We Know About Darth Vader’s Role In Obi-Wan Show
Hayden Christensen will be returning to Star Wars to play Darth Vader in the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, but what will his role be in the series?
It’s official: Hayden Christensen will return to the world of Star Wars to play Darth Vader in the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Christensen hasn’t appeared in the franchise since Revenge of the Sith (minus a brief voice line in The Rise of Skywalker), and fans of the prequel trilogy have celebrated his announced return. However, given the previous belief that Obi-Wan and Vader never saw each other between Episode III and Episode IV, the dark lord’s role in the new show is a bit puzzling.
When Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker last saw each other at the end of the prequels, the former was standing on the high ground on Mustafar, staring down at his former apprentice, cut to pieces by his own hand, slowly burning to death in a pool of magma. Devastated by Anakin’s betrayal and the subsequent deed that had to be done, Obi-Wan leaves the planet both victorious and ashamed. In order to preserve both himself and Anakin’s progeny from the Emperor, he takes the infant Luke Skywalker to his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, where he himself lives in exile, watching and protecting the boy. Unknown to him then, Darth Vader was still alive.
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In Obi-Wan Kenobi, the eponymous hero-in-hiding will likely discover the survival of his old friend-turned-nemesis. Kathleen Kennedy has said the two’s relationship on the series will feature the “rematch of the century,” meaning a previously-unmentioned showdown is on the way. Since it is in fact an Obi-Wan Kenobi (aka Ben) show, that seemed inevitable from the start, but the confirmation only raises more questions. How will the two meet, and where? What could bring Kenobi out of hiding on Tatooine? And most pressing, what exactly will Vader’s role be throughout the rest of the series?
Hayden Christensen Returns As Darth Vader (Not Anakin)
The specific wording used by Disney in the announcement of Christensen’s return gave the first clue as to his role in the show. Previously, rumors suggested he’d only be playing Anakin in flashbacks, perhaps to bring some moments of the Clone Wars to life in live-action, or something of the sort. The official announcement changed all that however, by confirming that Christensen will be playing Vader, not Anakin.
The two are, in many ways, completely distinct characters. And in the eyes of Obi-Wan, they are indeed two independent people. As he tells Luke in the original trilogy, from his point of view, Anakin Skywalker was murdered by Darth Vader. Obi-Wan and Anakin were so close, nearly like brothers, that it was nigh-impossible for Kenobi to admit the man he knew and loved was the same monster who murdered children in the Jedi temple. With that emotional motivator in mind, fighting Vader again could be a matter of vengeance for Obi-Wan – a path the Jedi are never meant to tread.
The confirmation that Christensen will play Vader is also interesting it because it could suggest some changes to the character’s traditional portrayal. James Earl Jones has voiced Darth Vader since his debut in 1977, but it’s possible Christensen could take on that duty himself with a little voice modulation. That could upset longtime fans loyal to Jones’s iconic timbre, but without doing the lines himself, Christensen would be little more than a man in a suit. Should fans expect looks at Vader out of his armor then? Perhaps in his citadel on Mustafar? Fans will have to wait and see.
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Darth Vader’s Story During Obi-Wan’s Show
While it’s not currently known what Vader will be up to in Obi-Wan Kenobi, fans have an idea of what his story looks like around that time. After Anakin was rebuilt by Palpatine in the wake of his duel on Mustafar, he became Vader, the Emperor’s chief enforcer. His primary tasks involved hunting down rogue Jedi, squashing rebellions against the Empire on defiant worlds, and leading the Inquisitorious – a group of Force-sensitives turned to the dark side whose mission was ensuring the Jedi Order stayed dead.
Through all these violent and brutal deeds, Vader remained a shadowy figure in galactic affairs. He did not play an active role in his Master’s politics or walk about much in the republic eye. For these reasons, very few outside the inner Imperial circle were even aware of Vader’s existence, and nearly no one knew of his former identity as Anakin Skywalker. Though tales and legends of Vader’s severe tactics spread like ghost stories across the galaxy, many didn’t even believe the dark figure was real. And most who encountered him never lived to speak of it.
That role as a mysterious, wandering killer leaves a lot of potential for how Vader could meet Obi-Wan once again. It seems impossible that the two would meet on Tatooine, as that would likely prohibit Kenobi from returning there and reveal Luke Skywalker’s existence. Therefore, it stands to reason that the new show will see Obi-Wan leaving the desert for some as-yet-unknown reason – possibly to help another surviving Jedi, or to aid in the burgeoning rebellion. Either of those instances would also likely draw Vader’s attention as well, creating opportunities for he and Obi-Wan to encounter each other again.
What Darth Vader’s Role Could Be In Obi-Wan Kenobi
As much as some fans might wish for a Darth Vader solo show, the story currently in development centers on Obi-Wan. That means that while some side plots could see Vader on Mustafar, Coruscant, or elsewhere alone, his primary role will be as a direct antagonist to his former friend. And as both Kathleen Kennedy and series lead Deborah Chow confirmed, master and apprentice will duel on screen once more.
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The details that remain will depend largely on the show’s focus. It’s been announced as a limited series, meaning that at this time there is no plan for a season 2. A brief, self-contained narrative means the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi could center on a cat-and-mouse game between the Jedi and Vader, with Christensen operating as a major character as well as a foil and villain. Or, the show could have a completely unrelated story, with Obi-Wan going off on a galactic adventure and only being discovered by Vader for a showdown at the end. Given the amount of fan-service Christensen’s return has already provided, it seems unlikely he’ll only appear in two scenes. With luck, Obi-Wan Kenobi will spend the majority of its short run delving deeper into the complex relationship between the two. But if not, an awesome fight scene will certainly do.
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About The Author
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Rick Stevenson is a writer, editor and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. He’s written on TV, film and games for over six years, in addition to assorted stints in bookselling, carpentry, and TV production. Rick studied writing at the College of William & Mary and Oxford University, and can report with some authority that they are both old. A comedian and improviser when not writing, he currently performs with Socially Distant Improv on Instagram, and is a founding member of the Oxford University House of Improv. He lives and dies for Avatar: The Last Airbender.
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