Disney’s investor day presentation brought a lot of news. Especially since it relates to the Star Wars universe. But perhaps the biggest bombshell was the revelation that Hayden Christensen will make his return to the franchise in the Disney + Obi-Wan Kenobi series as Darth Vader. This will be the first time that Christensen appears in the flesh as a character since the end of Revenge of the Sith. And for several reasons, the time seems right to give Christensen some on-screen redemption.
Let’s rewind the clock a bit. It’s 2005. Revenge of the Sith concludes the prequel trilogy. It’s been a mixed bag. We have reached the climax moment. Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker have staged a heartbreaking duel. Obi-Wan had the high ground. Anakin is left for dead on the shores of Mustafar. He is revived by Palpatine, quite painfully, as he completes his transformation as Darth Vader. One of the last things we hear is Vader shout, “Nooooooo!” in what is arguably one of the most chilling Star Wars moments in history.
We could spend all day discussing the intricacies of the prequel trilogy. What it got right. What went wrong? But there is almost no doubt that one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema deserved better than that moment. More to the point, say what you want about Hayden Christensen’s performance, but this was when the prequels were building. Three films dedicated to how Anakin Skywalker, the supposedly Chosen One, fell into the Dark Side and became a Sith Lord. The man got a few moments as a fully formed Darth Vader. It’s hard to imagine that hardcore fans would argue those moments were completely satisfying. Christensen deserved, and still deserves, his moment.
Obi-Wan Kenobi will be ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Central is the Jedi, which will again be played by Ewan McGregor. While the plot details remain largely hidden, with McGregor coming back, it wouldn’t feel right to cast another actor in the role. Hayden Christensen was McGregor’s Anakin Skywalker. This was his padawan. This was the person who betrayed him, and the entire Jedi order. It would feel like a great magician to just rearrange the role.
Now let’s see what has happened in the years since those last moments of Revenge of the Sith. For many of us, we assumed this would be the last bit Star Wars we would ever see. How wrong that turned out to be. George Lucas quickly got to work The Clone Wars animated series, which focused heavily on the relationship of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anakin’s character took on a lot of depth. The master / student relationship was more fully developed. A whole generation of kids grew up worshiping that show as a pillar of their own Star Wars fandom. Quite a few adults have also come to cherish the series.
There is also a re-evaluation of the prequels by quite a few fans. With some distance, and with additional context provided by The Clone Wars, many have come to defend and worship The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Maybe not wholesale. But there is meat to those bones, in terms of story, character and themes. Most importantly, the prequels aren’t downright as loathsome as they once were.
Finally, Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012. In the years since, we’ve gotten a whole new trilogy of movies, starting with The Force Awakens in 2015, as well as a number of spin-offs, including Rogue One and Solo. We now have The Mandalorian on Disney +, as well as an avalanche of other live-action and animated shows along the way. Not to mention a good conclusion The Clone Wars. More to come soon Star Wars than ever before. This is all important when it comes to Hayden Christensen getting his moment to shine.
To put it nicely, Hayden Christensen’s performance in the prequels is not often seen as a highlight of the discussion. But frankly, much of George Lucas’s dialogue didn’t serve him. “I don’t like sand” and all that jazz. But it’s not like the man has no talent. Not that awards are the most important thing, but Christensen was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in Life as a home. There’s a great achievement out there somewhere.
Deborah Chow, who did an excellent job behind the camera The Mandalorian, directs the whole Star Wars event series. A director. A vision. A very good director. Chow can easily help get the best performance out of Hayden Christensen. The show fans always deserved to see. The performance this man deserves to give. Redemption is a big theme in it Star Wars. Especially when it comes to Darth Vader. It’s time for that redemption.
We got the slightest taste of the actor’s return The Rise of Skywalker with a short voice cameo. But that was just a voice without a body. Anakin’s voice. With all these Several Star Wars projects in the works, isn’t there room for this guy’s view of Vader?
Plus, there’s reason to think fans are ready. Hayden Christensen appeared on Star Wars Celebration in 2017. Photo edits and signings sold out in minutes. And when he stepped onto the stage, the place erupted. He was more than hugged. There was love in that room. Admittedly, we are talking about the most hardcore hardcore fans. But who is such a show for if not for those same fans? This franchise has always been driven by its unusually passionate fan base.
Much has to be determined. Lucasfilm has stated that Hayden Christensen will play Darth Vader specifically. Does that mean he’s in the suit all the time? How much of the show will be centered on Vader? Will he give the voice? Or do we get James Earl Jones again? We are going to see flashbacks to The Clone Wars? All these and more factors will affect the performance that Christensen has to deliver.
Nevertheless, when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made the announcement, she promised, “This will be the rematch of the century.” That would only really be the case if the same two characters, as played by those same actors, are back. And that’s exactly what we get. Christensen for his part said, “It feels good to be back.” I imagine I’m not the only one who thinks it’s good to have you back, Lord Vader. Obi-Wan Kenobi has no release date yet.
Subjects: Darth Vader, Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Movieweb.