Okay. So. It’s hard to argue that the line-delivery of “I don’t like sand” in Attack of the Clones is the finest moment in all of Star Wars, but it’s also hard to blame it on Hayden Christensen. For the most part, conventional wisdom (and the memoirs of Carrie Fisher) tell us that George Lucas wasn’t the most hands-on director when it came to telling actors what a scene needed. And so, we have an uneven feeling about Christensen’s performance as Anakin in the Star Wars prequels. That said, with rumors about his return to The Rise of Skywalker swirling like a Tatooine sandstorm, the issue is clear: Episode IX might not have a Hayden Christensen cameo, but the film can hardly avoid talking about or heavily featuring Anakin Skywalker.
In order for The Rise of Skywalker to make any sense as the conclusion of the “Skywalker saga” it must — absolutely must — include Anakin Skywalker in some way, shape or form. Here are three huge reasons why.
3. Before the sequel trilogy, the entire story of Star Wars revolved around Anakin
If you stick with George Lucas canon, these movies only exist to tell a story that is, in essence, the tragedy of Darth Vader. Sure, there’s certainly some evidence that Lucas didn’t intend Anakin/Vader to be the focal point of the whole saga prior to Empire Strikes Back, but still, the fact remains that Episodes I-VI are literally about Anakin Skywalker and/or his alter ego, Darth Vader.
So if the “Skywalker” saga is going to end with Episode IX, Anakin has to be a part of that, otherwise, Episode IX is concluding a very different story.
2. Anakin is already part of the sequel trilogy in two ways
Because Kylo Ren seems to have spoken to the spirit of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in The Force Awakens, the notion of Anakin’s presence was instituted into this new trilogy right from the start. Now, even if Kylo didn’t literally speak to the ghost of Anakin, the fact that he thought he did is relevant. Because the second way Anakin is involved in these new films is because Kylo Ren is kind of an Anakin Skywalker proxy.
Basically, the tragedy of Darth Vader was reborn in Ben Solo, and as such, Kylo Ren is going through the exact same stuff his grandfather went through. One of Kylo Ren’s first scenes was him talking to Darth Vader’s mask saying: “I will finish what you started.” Anakin’s journey is really connected to Kylo Ren’s journey. So, if Kylo Ren ends up redeeming himself, Anakin will be mentioned, and specifically cited as an influence. He has to be!
1. The balance of the Force is connected to Anakin in canon. Rise of Skywalker can’t ignore that.
In both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it’s implied that the Force was kind of in balance for a while after Return of the Jedi, but something got it all out of wack. In George Lucas-Star Wars canon, Anakin is the reason the Force gets unbalanced during The Clone Wars and then, re-balanced in Return of the Jedi. So, if Kylo Ren (or Snoke or Palpatine) caused the Force to become unbalanced again, there’s got to be a connection to Anakin. Also, the final shot of Return of the Jedi (either version) showed the spirit of Anakin Skywalker smiling at Luke.
Ask yourself this question: If the prequels had never been made, and there was a sequel to Return of the Jedi, wouldn’t you expect – based on the ending of that movie — the ghost of Anakin would appear in said sequel? To put it another way: It’s actually shocking we’ve gone two films without a proper appearance from the ghost of Anakin.
Caveat: Hayden Christensen doesn’t have to appear in the movie for this to work
Look. J.J. Abrams is clever. He knows that if there’s a long scene where Anakin’s ghost talks to Kylo Ren, that we’re going to be in a situation where a lot of people are going to roll their eyes. Plus, if another legacy character takes center stage in the movie (like Han, or Luke or Leia have in the previous new films) it could threaten to undermine the importance of the newer characters. So, does that mean Hayden Christensen won’t be in the movie?
Maybe not. Because there is one easy workaround: If we hear Anakin Skywalker’s spirit, but we don’t see him, this could literally make everyone happy. And, when you consider Ewan McGregor already did the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s ghost in The Force Awakens, there’s no reason why Rise of Skywalker couldn’t pull the same trick for Hayden Christensen — especially when the movie seems set to feature a whole lot of sand.
Star Wars: The Rise of Hayden’s Disembodied Voice will hit theaters on December 20, 2019.