Original Saga,  Prequel Trilogy,  The Rise of Skywalker

The Hollywood Reporter: “Why Anakin Should Return for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker'”


From The Hollywood Reporter:

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’s final trailer has been revealed, and it looks to close the three-film, 40-year Skywalker Saga. Given the title, the Skywalker bloodline will have a crucial role to play. […] This leaves the role of the Anakin Skywalker still unclear. The character has had important roles in both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. His mask still serves as a symbol for grandson Kylo Ren. As the first Skywalker and original chosen one, what role does Abrams envision for him?

Anakin’s role in Star Wars is likely the most important across all sagas when put into proper context. In the Age of Rebellion, fans were introduced to Anakin through Darth Vader.  […] Sixteen years later, George Lucas returned to Star Wars with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. While the trilogy was divisive among longtime fans, there is an entire generation that grew up with this set of films as their first interaction with Star Wars. For many, Anakin Skywalker is Hayden Christensen’s portrayal before he is Darth Vader. It is this generation of fans who are now in their 20s, eagerly hoping that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will give respect to their era of Star Wars as much as it does the original trilogy.

Plot-wise, there are many ways to have Anakin Skywalker’s presence felt in The Rise of Skywalker. The first is to affirm his place as the Chosen One, the one who can bring balance to the Force. For a while, Anakin was well on his way to fulfilling it. His time training with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and becoming one of the leading generals during The Clone Wars series proved his valor. He was manipulated and turned to the dark side by Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), mostly due to the fear of losing Padme (Natalie Portman). After defeating him on Mustafar, Kenobi cried for his fallen brother, yet Anakin’s story did not end there and his destiny as the Chosen One was not truly lost. Anakin Skywalker ended up fulfilling his destiny when he killed the Emperor and redeemed himself in the eyes of his son. This makes Emperor Palpatine’s role in The Rise of Skywalker that much more interesting. His rebirth in the Sequel Trilogy should not take away from Anakin’s actions in The Return of the Jedi, so there must be more left to his story that Abrams wants to tie together.

While the Age of Resistance is essentially the story of Rey and Kylo Ren, Abrams has stated on numerous occasions that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be giving respect to all three eras of Star Wars. This is evident by Emperor Palpatine’s return as the primary villain of the film, reaffirming his place as the one true evil across all three sagas. While Anakin and Luke Skywalker should both have a role in the defeat of Palpatine again, it will likely be Rey or Kylo who win the day.

So how can Anakin Skywalker return in The Rise of Skywalker without overshadowing the other characters? One idea is for a fan-servicey Avengers: Endgame style showdown. Rey has been trained by Luke Skywalker and his Force Ghost is likely going to be assisting Rey in some fashion. Kylo Ren takes great influence from his grandfather, just the wrong side of him. The concept of both original Skywalkers appearing as Force Ghosts in the final battle against Palpatine could leave most fans satisfied. Still, Star Wars is known to be a bit subtler than Marvel and there might be more subdued ways to make Anakin Skywalker work.

Concept images for Star Wars: The Force Awakens suggest Anakin Skywalker was going to have a brief appearance as a distorted Force Ghost. [Note: it was just an idea from a concept artist, it wasn’t in a rough script] It was unclear what role the ghost would have had before the idea was scrapped but it did feature Hayden Christensen as an Anakin-Vader hybrid Force ghost, likely to influence Kylo Ren in some way. Exploring this concept further could lead to a moment where Anakin speaks to Kylo Ren, explaining the errors of his own past and the path to redemption that is still possible. […]

For viewers who grew up with the prequels, whose first connection to Anakin Skywalker was as a Jedi, not as Vader, having Hayden Christensen return in The Rise of Skywalker would be just as poignant as when original trilogy fans saw Mark Hamill’s old Luke Skywalker in the final shots of The Force Awakens. To be a true finale of the Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker needs Anakin Skywalker to have some role in the film. Whether that role is a full appearance or just a symbolic one, it is safe to say that Abrams has something in mind to leave the legacy of Star Wars in a good place.”


  • starwarshexalogy

    It´s nice to see that some people have finally realized that OF COURSE Anakin SHOULD be in VII-IX. He won´t be in this faux Episode IX though because that would require the geniuses at Disney actually paying attention to the first six chapters of the story they were supposed to continue.

  • archdukeofnaboo

    These past few months It seemed almost a forgone conclusion that Anakin would appear in IX

    But these leaks, which don’t as much as name-check the saga’s central character, have now proven to carry some truth. It’s not looking so bright any longer.

    If Anakin doesn’t play some part in defeating the man he once killed, I’m going to leave the cinema extremely disappointed. Undoing what is probably my favourite ending to any film, and exiling my favourite character in the PT will not be forgiven.

    • Keith Palmer

      I can still “hope against hope” there’s some ultimate secret still to be revealed (or at least I don’t think I’ve been checking these “leaks” the way you do); it would do a lot to increase my chances of going to see this movie… I do remember, though, someone commenting on the Prequel Appreciation Society Hayden Christensen appearing at a Celebration could be taken as the new management trying to warm people up to the thought of him appearing in The Last Jedi. I admit I’ve also been contemplating “what if we get a re-cast Anakin who just happens to look like Sebastian Shaw with hair and without makeup…”

      I do seem to recall comments, perhaps connected to the “Dark Empire” comics, that tried to make the point “even if Anakin doesn’t appear to ‘finish off the Emperor for good this time,’ he at least did something important by saving his son.” The problem now is that Luke really doesn’t seem to have accomplished much with his continued life in these new movies, as opposed to the old novels and comics…

      • archdukeofnaboo


        Thanks for your contribution Keith, interesting points.

        I’m not so familiar with the written expanded universe, pre-2013, but what I do know is that had Lucas made the ST himself, the storylines from the Thrawn Trilogy et all would still have been discarded. Now this is not a defence of what Disney-owned Lucasfilm have done, for I think TFA was a blatant rip-off of ANH, though it is to say that Lucas would found some way to integrate the Force Ghost of Anakin, having been so attached to the charterer in all his previous films.

        Re-casting Anakin with a older actor is not something I’ve really though about. I believe Johnson for one would have done so had he needed the character, to judge from how he answered a question on Force Ghosts. JJ Abrams is more of a mystery. Though the truth is that the younger Republic-era Anakin who appears at the celebration at the end of ROTJ is cannon, and cannot be changed, and even if it is a Shaw-like appearance in the ST would be a glaring inconsistency.

        It seems like Lucasfilm are being very tight-lipped on the role of Luke and Leia in this film. There’s nothing to go on from the trailers other than their voiceovers, which may not even make the final cut. My hope then is that Anakin’s role is even more closely guarded. And it’s certainly possible, given how they pulled off Maul in Solo. They are going out of their way to sell this idea of a “Skywalker Saga”, with prequel references and nods many of us have already found in the clips, so I can’t imagine they would ignore the character that defined the PT. They’ve already pulled out Palpatine, who is speaking far more like the menacing villain of ROTS than the more stereotypical bad guy of ROTJ.

        For Anakin were not to appear, what with all this teasing we’ve gone though, it would be tantamount to betraying all the people of my generation who grew up with the PT. I think he’ll be there though. Some how, some way.

      • Keith Palmer

        Maybe “trying to clarify things” is too late now, but I don’t think I was quite serious when pondering “all of a sudden Anakin looks sixty-something, just because he can,” even all too aware as I am “young Anakin at the end of Return of the Jedi” seems the number-two outrage for those forever demanding high-definition “pre-Special Edition” releases. (I’m not among them, just to be clear.)

        The Clone Wars computer-animated series was controversial to some for starting to play fast and loose with details set down in previous prose works. Always tempted to suppose working on that series was where George Lucas started getting ideas for how to continue the saga even after everything, I can suppose his outlines wouldn’t have hewed to the remainder of those details. Still, in somewhat the same wry mood as my previous speculation, there was a time when I remembered just how far some people boost Timothy Zahn’s novels and pondered “some goodwill would be won from some people if these new collaborative movies let them imagine ‘Heir to the Empire’ and its immediate sequels, at least, still took place years before…” (Again being honest, I have to admit my reactions to those novels have become much more mixed over the years, but to try and articulate why would threaten tedious detail.)

      • jpieper668

        Those Spoiled Brats Don’t Deserve H-D Pre-Special Editions after The Disgusting way they’ve treated Lucas for 22 years I’m Guessing Their Number One Complaint was Greedo shooting First?

      • archdukeofnaboo


        That’s a good point, haha.

        I just saw the video today, and I thought it was such a good recap of the saga that I had to share it with you. Really does the PT justice!

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