(The article contains minor spoilers for Rogue One.)
Many people loved the interquel set between the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequels. Others have voiced the opinion that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was lacking in a few departments.
Specifically, many fans felt that Rogue One could have used a little more Darth Vader. More scenes featuring the Sith Lord would have been cool, but here's why Rogue One's minimal use of Vader was more than enough.
Vader In Rogue One
Darth Vader had two major appearances in Rogue One.
The first scene provided a bridge to the prequels by taking place on Mustafar, the fiery planet where Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is left after the climax of Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge Of The Sith (2005). Here, Vader is shown recovering in a Bacta Tank before reminding Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) of his place.
Vader's second scene featured him at the height of his power as he slaughtered helpless rebels in the lead-up to Rogue One's end and by extension, the beginning of the original Star Wars (1977) movie, aka Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope.
A Lack Of Faith
Much to some fans' chagrin, Vader was relegated to nothing more than the above extended cameos in the latest Star Wars movie and yet, Rogue One's trailers and posters (see image above) hyped his presence to such an extent that one would think he would have as much screen time as Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Check out this particular TV spot below to see what I mean.
Given his popularity and importance to the franchise, it's understandable why Disney used Vader to promote the next Star Wars movie. However, as a result of this nostalgic pandering, some people were expecting the iconic character to have a massive presence and were hoping Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her squad mates would face Vader in a climactic showdown.
Viewers expecting the aforementioned epic confrontation were disappointed to learn that the two would never even catch a glimpse of each other. In the end, the Death Star had more screen time than Vader himself. If his scenes were kept as a surprise like the CGI-rendered cameos of Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), maybe fans wouldn't have been so pissed at Vader's lack of screen time.
But as I mentioned earlier, the limited use of Vader in this film is actually a good thing.
Less Is More
What makes Rogue One stand out is that it focused on the unsung heroes of the Galactic Civil War. This new approach affected the way popular Star Wars characters were used in the first Star Wars Anthology story, which in turn affected how audiences saw these familiar names return to the big screen.
To regular soldiers and rebels, characters like Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) or Darth Vader were the stuff of legend. By limiting Vader's onscreen presence, audiences got to see how he was viewed by the oftentimes nameless characters that populate our favorite galaxy far, far away. Not only do the rebels dread him, but high ranking Imperial officers like Director Krennic do as well. This emphasized just how important figures like Vader were in the Star Wars story and it showed how they got the reputation that defines them throughout the saga.
Giving Vader more screen time would've pulled focus away from the point of the new film, which was to highlight new characters and to look at a well-known time in the Star Wars saga through a different lens.
More Vader could have also resulted in Rogue One repeating the fundamental mistakes of the prequel trilogy when it came to telling Vader's backstory. Revealing too much about a mysterious character ends up watering them down. The more Vader is shown on screen, the more the mystique and fear that surround him is lost due to a sense of familiarity and predictability.
It may be hard to remember or even believe, but Vader only had 12 minutes of screentime in the first Star Wars film. Rogue One not only saved Vader for some of the more memorable scenes, but it also followed the minimalist approach of the original film.
Vader's two scenes may be dismissed as obligatory fan-service, but they were still integral to Rogue One. Without them, the movie wouldn't have been able to re-establish Vader's power and presence in film.
Darth Vader's special guest-star status in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made every moment he was on screen more powerful and highlighted why he's still one of the greatest movie villains of all time.