One of the most arresting scenes in The Force Awakens was Kylo Ren talking Hamlet-style to the burned helmet of Darth Vader. But what if Darth Vader’s head actually talked back? Because the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker is still out there, The Last Jedi could finally delineate the relationship between the man formerly known as Ben Solo, and the spirit of his troubled grandfather.
The following speculates on what could happen in The Last Jedi, meaning, if any of it comes to pass, aspects of this article could be considered a series of very intuitive spoilers.
If you didn’t know anything about how many years had passed in real life between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, you’d be shocked that the ghost of Anakin Skywalker doesn’t appear in the sequel to the film which literally closed on his smiling face. Obi-Wan’s ghost was a big deal in every single installment of the classic trilogy, and when that story ended, Anakin’s ghost joined him in the pseudo afterlife. So, why hasn’t the ghost of Anakin already appeared? Weirdly, in one conceptual version of The Force Awakens, he totally did.
According to the 2015 book The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, concept art for Anakin Skywalker’s ghost was commissioned for the film, which means at one point, Anakin’s ghost was something J.J. Abrams and others were considering including. Though it’s also possible this idea originated with concept artist Ian McCaig. Either way, it seems like none of these scenes were ever filmed, but that hasn’t stopped fans from buzzing about actor Hayden Christensen returning to the role of Anakin for at least two years.
Then, there’s the rumor from March 2017, in which one alleged plot summary indicated that Luke was “questioning the teachings of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin,” implying he’d be chatting with the ghosts of all three. In this scenario, Anakin’s ghost would not only appear to Kylo Ren, but Luke Skywalker, too. Fan artists quickly latched onto this idea, creating scenes in which Luke is communing with these three spirits.
Some fans also wonder if Kylo Ren mentioning “the pull to the light” is specifically the ghost of Anakin Skywalker asking him to stop being such an asshole. The idea here is that the spirit of Anakin was fractured by the Force upon his death. Meaning, there’s a ghost of both Anakin and Darth Vader, and that the two spirits are sort of like the angel and evil on Kylo Ren’s shoulder. This theory checks with the concept art created by McCaig in which Anakin’s face would have been engulfed by Darth Vader’s mask, indicating the Force ghost of Anakin was a hybrid at war with itself. Other fans have taken this idea more literally and created fan videos and memes in which Anakin’s ghost actually gets into it with Kylo Ren and the two call each other all sorts of names.
When Obi-Wan surrendered himself to the Force in A New Hope, he said he would become “more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” For the most part, this is true. By becoming part of the Force, Obi-Wan was able to guide Luke in ways he probably couldn’t have if he was a living, breathing corporeal person. But what about Anakin? Presumably, even when he became crippled as Darth Vader, Anakin was still the most powerful Jedi of all time. Meaning, his spirit would probably be extremely powerful, too, certainly more powerful than the ghost of Obi-Wan or Yoda. So, at the very least, a Force ghost that powerful probably wouldn’t just fade away after thirty years.
Supposedly, J.J. Abrams plans to “unite all three trilogies” in writing the story for the sequel to The Last Jedi, Star Wars: Episode IX. And one specific way the overall story of Star Wars could be fleshed-out is figuring out what exactly Anakin Skywalker’s redemption looks like, in terms of that pesky “bring balance to the Force” prophecy. Recently, even Dave Fioloni of Star Wars Rebels has admitted that Anakin Skywalker was the real chosen one, destined to bring balance to the Force. But, in the time of The Last Jedi, the Force seems seriously out of whack. Luke thinks its time for the Jedi to end, and at the beginning of The Force Awakens, Lor San Tekka told Poe Dameron that “without the Jedi, there can be no balance.”
So, if The Last Jedi wants to get to the bottom of the future of the Force, maybe everybody should talk to someone that knows a lot about it. The ghost of Anakin Skywalker is waiting, and he might have some interesting answers to everyone’s questions. Even Luke’s.
The Last Jedi hits theaters everywhere on December 15. While you’re waiting for the movie to arrive, visit Inverse every day to check out more entries in our Last Jedi Wishlist Series right here.