It's been half a year since the initial concept art for [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) was leaked onto the internet, but fans are still buzzing about the identity of the mysterious figure dubbed Grave Robber. The subsequent trailers have only sparked further discussion, with the revelation of Darth Vader's burnt and broken helmet. This enigmatic figure is clearly going to be one of the Star Wars 7's Big Bads, so who is the most likely to be the Grave Robber? And could we see Darth Vader's return?
So here's a breakdown of what we know. The Grave Robber seems to emulate Vader in their fashion choices: cloaked, and with a similar skull-like mask over their face. They also have a robot hand, just like the Skywalker men. Maybe this is thanks to a cult ritual, trying to honour Darth Vader by mimicing his appearance, (though cutting off your own hand is a pretty extreme way to show your respect for an idol). The Grave Robber is a solitary figure, sitting alone in a darkened space ship. And... that's about it. There has been no news of this character since the concept art's release, but thanks to the trailers, we might have a better idea of the Robber's identity.
Continuing the legacy
Many fans have speculated that this character could be female, thanks to this close up image. But without seeing more of the figure, the options are definitely open for them to be one of any number of characters that already exist.
So who are the likely candidates? Let's round them up.
Captain Phasma: yup, that's right, Gwendoline Christie's character could well turn to the dark...er side. She's the leader of The First Order, a vicious army of Stormtroopers determined to get vengeance for their fallen Empire (you can read my article about them here). Perhaps she also has an obsession with Vader, and after her soldiers' defeat, decides to go solo and take up the villain's mantle...
Padme: what? She's alive? Well, no-one's ever really dead in sci fi. Could she have been hiding out all these years, following her once true love's rise to power and fall from grace? Ok, this one's a bit of a stretch, but that hasn't stopped fans including her in their Star Wars 7 theories, and it would certainly be a surprise twist!
- Leia: headstrong and quick to anger, Leia may have more similarities to her father than we originally thought. Yet after both she and her husband were tortured by Vader, it's unlikely she'd suddenly want to follow in his footsteps. Leia's role in the film has not yet been revealed, though her Jedi powers were briefly mentioned in the latest trailer. Plus, we all know how close hate and love run in the Star Wars universe...
Kylo Ren: of course, with that epic lightsaber reveal in the trailer, it looks like Kylo Ren is going to be following the Sith path. He also wears a full length cloak similar to that of the Grave Robber. Coincidence? Well, maybe, considering that black full length cloaks are pretty trendy in the Star Wars universe: most of the bad guys seem to wear them (especially if they're Sith). Still, we don't know much more about Kylo Ren, other than he has excellent taste in weapons.
- The General: almost as shrouded in mystery as the Grave Robber, The General is Kylo Ren's master commander, and member of The First Order. He and Captain Phasma appear to work closely together, as this new leaked photo reveals. Maybe he collects Darth Vader memorabilia in his time off (we all gotta wind down somehow).
- Luke Skywalker: another big twist, but hey, he's already got the robot hand! What if he finally turns to the dark side, when the pressure of leading the new Jedi Order becomes too much? This theory is pretty unlikely though: would J.J. Abrams really tarnish Star Wars 7's ultimate golden boy? Another popular idea is that the robber is none other than Darth Vader himself! Returned from the grave to... cradle his own helmet? Even more unlikely. A return to the Anakin goes bad-good-bad again plot would be almost as bad as if the Robber turns out to be Jar Jar Binks.
A new face... sorta
What is most likely, though, is that the Grave Robber is an entirely new character, waiting to be introduced. We've still got a few cast members with undefined characters, like Andy Serkis - officially playing CGI animated Supreme Leader Snoke, there are rumours that he might take on a live action role as well. Max von Sydow's role has also been very hush-hush.
With plenty of actors left to chose from, as well as lots of characters who could have dual identities, trying to guess the Grave Robber's identity is like trying to catch smoke. Here's hoping the next leak from the Star Wars set gives us some more clues!