There are only 92 days until Christmas but, more importantly, we only have 86 days left to wait for [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158)! And as we get closer to that all important release date, the internet is going wild with rumours and speculation in our desperate quest to answer all the questions the trailers and hints have raised.
The hottest topic right now is Darth Vader's apparent return in Star Wars 7 and it's not unlikely, considering the foreshadowing and teasers we've had about his appearance in The Force Awakens. But how exactly will he make his grand re-entrance into the franchise? Despite the rumours, it might not be how you'd expect...
Kylo Ren Wants To Clone Darth Vader?
This is the theory which io9 posted earlier this week. And honestly, it's not a bad idea. Many people have already come to the conclusion that Kylo Ren is obsessed with Vader, thanks to the knowledge that there IS a collection of Vader-related relics in Star Wars Episode 7. How do we know this? Well, it was revealed way back in the concept art stage, with an enigmatic figure dubbed by fans as the Grave Robber cradling Darth Vader's helmet...
Who this figure might be is a subject of much speculation, with fans naming everyone from Luke Skywalker (check out that robot hand) to Kylo Ren as the Grave Robber's secret identity. Since the concept art's reveal, we've had plenty more hints of Vader's presence within Star Wars 7, and it's clear that J.J. Abrams wants to know he WILL play some sort of role, even if it's just his legacy that's important.
The trailer showed us Vader's melted helmet, and the new book Star Wars: Aftermath gave us what could be the origins of this mysterious Vader artifact collection. In the book, a scavenger turned merchant sells Darth Vader's lightsaber (no not THAT ONE, his last red saber) to a group of distinctly shifty folk who seem obsessed with Vader already. Who are they?
"We are adherents. Acolytes of the Beyond. We are not violent. Not yet... We wish to destroy the lightsaber so that it can be returned to its master in death."
So we already have one established Vader cult in the Star Wars universe, but how are they connected to The Force Awakens?
Well, it's probable they're the origins of the Knights of Ren: the group that Kylo belongs to which is, incidentally, how he got his name (as Abrams revealed). If there's anyone out to clone Darth Vader, it's definitely this cult, and thanks to all this foreshadowing we know their obsession with the Skywalker bad boy will play a crucial role in the plot. But cloning? While it is possible this is the Knights of Ren's plan I'm not convinced, as we've had no evidence to suggest this. But if this is their aim, will they succeed?
That's very doubtful: bringing Vader back would just undermine the importance and power of the new villains that Abrams is determined to hype up. Kylo Ren as having a cult obsession with Vader is perfect, as it carries on the threat of Darth Vader into Star Wars 7, making Anakin a veritable martyr for the Sith cause (though we all know in the end he was redeemed).
The shadow of Vader should definitely be present, but cloning Vader? That's a risky move, not to mention it would probably mean Hayden Christensen's return to the Star Wars franchise, and he's hardly a fan fave. (More on him later.) However, it is likely that Vader will appear, just not as a resurrected clone. How? Well we may have already found out!
Vader's Role In Star Wars Episode 7 Revealed?
When I started researching this article, I set out to debunk the idea that Darth Vader would appear in The Force Awakens at all. However, I soon discovered that it was very likely he would make some sort of cameo at least, thanks to the revelations in this article. It turns out that one of the stars of Star Wars 7 posted a cheeky teaser selfie back in January, and one that may have proved Vader's return...
Yeah, I was skeptical too, but after a solid 5 minutes of staring intently at other pictures of Darth Vader's uh... lower.... costume... part... I discovered that this is indeed a picture of Vader. The belt buckle matches, the weird crotch guard matches, oh and that lightsaber slung on his belt? Yup, it's the red lightsaber that he lost in the final battle. Which clearly implies his appearance will be set before his epic showdown with Luke at the Battle of Endor. And what does that mean? Flashbacks!
So does this prove Vader will be resurrected or cloned? Heck no! Apart from the fact that this could just be a costume display, there are plenty of reasons why this proof proves very little. The actor taking the selfie is Warwick Davis, portrayer of Ewok Wicket in Return Of The Jedi. He will be reprising his role in Star Wars Episode 7, but unless Ewoks have a pivotal role in the New Republic government (hmmm), this again seems to point towards a Battle of Endor-set flashback. But what about Hayden Christensen?
Hot on the heels of io9's cloning theory, MakingStarWars reported a rumour that Hayden Christensen, portrayer of Anakin in the prequels, is currently being trained for a role in [Star Wars: Episode VIII](tag:711868).
"A team in the U.K. are soon heading to the U.S. to begin training Hayden Christensen for a Star Wars: Episode VIII appearance of some sort."
This is the only information we've had about his appearance so far and it's not exactly reliable. But even if it's true, that doesn't mean Darth Vader will be cloned. Remember how Force ghosts are totally a thing?
My money's on this being the nature of Christensen's role: as a Force ghost offering advice to either Kylo Ren or Luke Skywalker... and considering The Force Awakens will probably end with Finn and Rey finding a grizzled and possibly cynical Luke, maybe Anakin will be there to whisper in his son's ear, reminding Luke of his legacy. Or what if his ghost is plaguing Kylo Ren, causing the audience to question whether this is a genuine Force Spirit or just a hallucination?
The prospects are fun to speculate about, but so far we actually know very little. And again, resurrecting Anakin would be a risky move on the part of the filmmakers, and one I'm not convinced they want to take (especially considering Abrams' determination to ignore the prequels as much as possible).
Our conclusion: Darth Vader's presence will definitely be felt in Star Wars 7, but through cult obsessions, flashbacks, and possible Force Ghost cameos. So what do you think of these rumours? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!