Should Disney and Lucasfilm Consider a Darth Vader Movie?

by Todd King, contributing writer
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Carrie Fisher

What can I say about Carrie Fisher that hasn't already been said since her sudden passing at the end of the year? From my perspective, starting with when I first watched the original Star Wars movie as a child, I always saw Princess Leia as one of the heroes; an equal to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

At that age, I didn't know anything about strong female characters in film; I just saw her leading the Rebellion, lying to the Empire to save her people, staying on the Hoth base until the last person was evacuated, donning a disguise as a bounty hunter on a rescue mission, strangling Jabba the Hutt to death with her bare hands, and sharpshooting Stormtroopers on Endor. She was, in a word, great. Of course she was a strong female character, but I just saw a hero—and that included all aspects.

As I grew older and continued watching the movies again and again, I realized just how great Carrie Fisher made Leia. She made Leia a person who was not only confident in the tasks that had to be done but she also portrayed her with a keen awareness of the needs of others. She often helped Luke and Han, but Fisher showed that Leia wasn't a snobby know-it-all. She showed her deep concern for her friends and for their cause. Nobody else could have portrayed the character and the kind of unrest and bravery we believed in Leia.

In The Force Awakens, Fisher's portrayal of the former princess persisted with the same power and grace. We saw her again as leader but also as a kind of healer after Rey had broken free from her captivity. And now with the coming next chapter of the saga, we wait with disquiet to see her final performance as General Organa. But like Lor San Tekka said in the beginning of Episode VII, "To me, she's royalty."

Rogue One Billion

You can read all over about how well Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is performing financially in theaters all over the world, and how it has been a part of Disney's record-breaking year at the cinemas. It's good news! Rogue One's continued increase in gross ticket sales is fantastic, and validates Disney's direction to keep this Star Wars train rolling. Lucasfilm will feel more confident in making additional spinoffs like the Han Solo one in the works right now. Fans will also be enjoying the ride, since Disney seems committed to making quality movies created by people who love Star Wars (Abrams, Edwards). It also means that the Star Wars land/parks will be even more hotly anticipated, ensuring gate-busting attendance whenever they finally open. All in all, from a company standpoint, it's raining Mickey Ears.

I'm happy Rogue One is continuing with its earnings, as I believe it's well-deserved. This "Star Wars Story" is a darn good one that you should see even if you're not a fan of Star Wars. It's a war movie—and like most war movies, it is about trust among strangers and their binding friendship, and about the sacrifices made for a greater good. Rogue One is all those things and it is still a Star Wars movie with the X-Wing aerial dogfights, but there isn't enough to detract from the primary story of a small band of heroes on what amounts to a suicide mission. It is these ideas and their execution that make this film as popular as it is. No question: For me, it ranks among the best of Star Wars.

From a Disney parks standpoint, there are plenty of visuals from Rogue One to seize for Star Wars land. The planet Eadu, with its tall mountains through which the heroes must fly, looks like a ready-made scene for Star Tours. The busy streets of Jedha, with its populace of monks, droids, troopers, and others seem like a path we may walk in the finished park someday. We even got to see some street-side markets and food there—not that I will want to each steamed crawdads or whatever was on screen. We got to see a bit more of the Rebel's hidden base on Yavin, with its ancient temples and Y-Wing hangars; seems like a nice place to meet some freedom fighters. In other words, there was a larger scope of environments in Rogue One that we may see influences of in Star Wars land. And who knows who you may bump into, like Jyn Erso bumping into Ponda Baba (Walrus Man) and Dr. Evazan, when you're on your way to a gift shop?

We Face Darth Vader Again (Spoilers)

Many fans are talking about the Darth Vader scene at the end of Rogue One, and I wonder if it will serve as a test piece (to gauge audience reaction) for a possible future spinoff movie. Although there was already the Darth Vader comic book that took place between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, it seems like people want to see "this" Vader—a seething, frightening killer that lacks sympathy, remorse, or a conscience. Could it happen? Should it?

It could be interesting to show Vader in his Jedi-killing days as he purged the galaxy of the remaining practitioners of the Force's light side. On the other hand, I believe the "less is more" mantra here in that even before this scene in Rogue One, we already knew what Vader was capable of. Those scary abilities of his were always there from the beginning. He could choke people to their deaths with his mere thought. We knew there was deep hatred simmering just under his skin, but he was so powerful he hardly had to use it. He was always this frightening but didn't have to show it.

In his lightsaber duel with his son in Empire Strikes Back, it seemed Vader was merely toying with Luke the whole time, seemingly able to cut the final blow at any moment he wanted. But that was not his intention. He was out to do something far more sinister to Luke than to simply kill him. Vader was going to show Luke that Luke's skills were insufficient, especially next to Vader's, in meeting his destiny. He was going to convince Luke that for all he had learned he wouldn't be able to destroy the Lord of the Sith. He would persuade Luke to see his point of view that the only way to win was to release his anger, that only his hate could bring him victory. It was only at a point in the fight when Luke finally got a quick hit on Vader's armored shoulder that Vader himself got unnerved and swayed from his purpose. It was only a second later, for a fleeting moment, we saw that killing side of him when he swiftly sliced off his own son's hand. Here, Vader was showing his true evil. He could have ended Luke's life then and there and was even tempted to do so, saying, "Don't make me destroy you." But he had other more grotesque purposes in mind. He finally made his intentions known to Luke at that point by luring him to the Dark Side not to mention offering him the chance to be with his long-lost father.

In other words, what we've seen of this most evil side of Vader is enough. If they were to carry through with this idea for a standalone movie, they could easily take this Vader too far. In movies, we like to see unstoppable monsters because we long to see the greatest hero defeat it, but those monsters are often very flat characters. Portraying this Vader in full murder-mode is risky; it would conflict with a lot of plot that happens later as Vader turns back to the good side because of Luke. We have to believe Luke when he knows there is good in Vader and that his redemption is truly earned. Besides, in Episode VIII we may get a lot of this big evil action from Kylo Ren who, by all accounts, may not end up being a redeemable character ... maybe. Finally, the glimpse we had of "this" Darth Vader in Rogue One I believe is just the right amount for us to see the power of the Dark Side… a power, by the way, that fails to obtain the plans.

Comments

  1. By Mickey021

    Great article and agree with everything you said and more about Carrie Fisher.

    As far as Darth Vader, it's fun seeing him pop up in the new films, but he's already had his movie(s). The throughline of Episodes I through VI was the rise and fall of Vader, how was created, went down the dark path, and ultimately redeemed.

    It was a great ride, but time to focus on other characters.

  2. By foxtwin

    Agreed! We did get that story in the episodic movies, and now we've seen him pop up in Rebels and Rogue One - there's just that time period when it was said that "Vader hunted down and destroyed the Jedi knights" - some fans I think want to see more of those dark times, but those times are, in my opinion, ancillary--the real story of Vader and what he stands for is what we've seen. It's like wanting to see more of the miserly Scrooge when he was at his worst instead of remembering him as the changed man in London.

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