Anakin Skywalker has been a touchy subject among Star Wars fandom since the release of The Phantom Menace in 2001. The character received incredible amounts of hate thanks to his characterization in the controversial prequel trilogy.
In fact, fans were eager for #Disney and Lucasfilm to stick to only Darth Vader and avoid the Anakin part of him as much as possible. But a recent development could suggest the studios are bringing him back into the franchise.
Star Wars is turning 40 years old this year, and Disney is taking advantage of Star Wars Celebration to commemorate this remarkable achievement with a panel consisting of people who each left their mark on the franchise. And that's where our surprise comes from.
The Star Wars Celebration Twitter page posted this image of the people that will be part of the 40th anniversary panel. There, you'll notice #HaydenChristensen alongside the likes of Kathleen Kennedy, Dave Filoni and his son, and Mark Hamill:
Christensen's presence in the panel might seem to be expected at first glance. After all, he was the one who played Anakin Skywalker in the first place. But there's something very puzzling about it: The actor hasn't attended the Celebration since 2002.
Does Christensen's Appearance Mean Something Much Bigger For The Star Wars Franchise?
Given Christensen's 12-year departure from anything to do with the #StarWars universe, you might understandably be wondering: What if this signifies something much bigger? Could it be that Hayden Christensen's appearance at Celebration is Disney's way of teasing us with the future of Anakin Skywalker? Well, it's entirely possible.
A few years ago, through the piece of concept art below, we learned that Anakin (or at least a very creepy version of him) was supposed to make an appearance in The Force Awakens:
There was even supposed to be an #EasterEgg for the character's pod-racing years in Maz Katana's cantina, which was visible in one of the trailers. Ultimately though, it was cut out:
Even though his cameo in TFA didn't become a reality, it was heavily rumored that Anakin would be seen as a Force Ghost in #TheLastJedi. Fans will know it would be similar to how he appeared at the end of the remastered version of Return of the Jedi.
That tells us something very important: Despite all the fan criticism directed at the character, the effort to continue breathing life into #DarthVader's more merciful version is very apparent.
Back in 2016, Hayden Christensen was asked if he would be open to return as the character. He stated:
"Oh absolutely, yeah, in a heartbeat for sure. Being a part of that world was a huge deal for me. And you know, it was a good four-five years of my life. I have fond memories and good friendships from that whole time. But... I don't know, If they ever give me the call, I would sign up in a heartbeat, yeah."
So there's a definite interest from both sides to keep the young version of Star Wars' greatest villain alive. And as we've seen for the past few years, Disney doesn't do things at random. That might make you wonder, though...
How Could Anakin Come Into Play Once Again?
If (emphasis on "if") this reunion ends up happening, there's a very simple way in which Anakin could be part of the new franchise. And yes, without exploring the story we saw develop throughout six movies once again: A Force ghost appearance.
We know Luke has been in exile on an island for quite some time. With all of that downtime and loneliness, he could have stayed in touch with his former two teachers and his very own father. After all, things were cool with them after their epic final Death Star battle. That kind of appearance would be subtle and extremely easy to pull off.
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This possibility is sure to stir a whole lot of controversy among fans, but there's something we have to face: Regardless of how you feel about Anakin, he's a big part of the Star Wars mythos. Therefore it wouldn't make sense for Disney and #Lucasfilm to leave him out of the franchise, even his younger self.
Ultimately however, right now we are doing what we love: Speculating. We'll have to wait until Star Wars Celebration gets here to assess whether Christensen's appearance actually means Lucasfilm and Disney will revisit Anakin.
Does Hayden Christensen's celebration appearance have a bigger meaning for the franchise?