The Chosen One

Hayden Christensen's Darth Vader return fixes the worst part of the prequels

The circle is now complete.

"You were my brother Anakin, I loved you!" With these words, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) left Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) to his dark-helmeted fate as Darth Vader. In the 15 years since Revenge of the Sith "ended" the prequels on a dour note, the nostalgia for this once-derided Star Wars trilogy has only grown stronger. Compared with the mixed-bag of the sequel trilogy in the Disney-Lucasfilm era, the prequels — and Episode III in particular — really seem to have their Sith together. In fact, now that Hayden Christensen is officially returning to the role of Darth Vader in the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, Star Wars canon can finally explain some loose-ends that Revenge of the Sith simply didn't have the time to address.

But beyond that, the return of Hayden Christensen to his most famous role gives Star Wars a shot at redeeming the most interesting aspect of the "original" Star Wars storyline: What was being Darth Vader like from Anakin's point of view?

The greatest promise of the prequels was to explain how a nice kid became Darth Vader. From a technical standpoint, Revenge of the Sith did get Hayden into the Darth Vader suit in its final moments, but after that helmet came down on his face, the journey of Anakin to Darth Vader was essentially over. Yes, several comic book stories and books have filled in what Vader was doing right after Revenge of the Sith, but in terms of digging into the story of a younger Darth Vader, the Star Wars canon has left us to connect the dots on our own. Until now.

Did we get the best of Hayden in 'Sith'? No way.


Hayden Christensen was always Darth Vader

We tend to think of Hayden Christensen as the Star Wars actor who played Anakin Skywalker, but the truth is, he takes on the name "Darth Vader" about halfway through Revenge of the Sith. The person Obi-Wan Kenobi fights isn't Anakin anymore, he's Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith. The armor makes us think of Hayden as Vader superficially, but the character of Vader is arguably created during the prequel films. Think of his slaughter of the Tusken Raiders or killing the Younglings. That's not Anakin. That guy is already Vader.

The odd thing is that because we only got two movies with Hayden Christensen, we oddly didn't get much in terms of the story of his character. Revenge of the SIth puts Darth Vader on the beginning of his journey, but it also robbed Christensen of doing more interesting character work. When it was teased that Vader would be glimpsed in Rogue One, fans freaked out. The idea of seeing Vader sans armor, in his various meditation chambers was enticing because the man beneath the helmet was arguably driving the entire story of Star Wars anyway.

Imagine Obi-Wan smack-talking Anakin via telepathy.


The Obi-Wan series could pull a Last Jedi

The idea of a younger Darth Vader sitting alone in his room thinking about the state of the galaxy, and maybe reaching out through the Force to have a mind-chat with Obi-Wan is fantastic. Yes, describing the idea of a character sitting alone, having telepathic thoughts might not sound all that great on paper, but The Last Jedi kind of showed us how you can do this. Arguably, Rey and Kylo Ren's mind-chats across space were the most interesting thing about Rian Johnson's movie. We were later told Snoke "linked" their minds, but the point is, the precedent has been set that you can do this in Star Wars. In fact, Rey and Ben were still doing it in The Rise of Skywalker.

If you're going to bring Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen back to Star Wars in a show set during the time period of Obi-Wan's isolation, it feels pretty obvious that they have to interact. But, it also seems clear that Obi-Wan will not physically interact with Vader again in the same space. This means the drama of having Vader and Obi-Wan interact again can truly raise the stakes for Star Wars. In Revenge of the Sith, a lightsaber fight was the pinnacle of Obi-Wan and Vader working out their issues, but that robbed us of more great scenes of dialogue between Christensen and McGregor.

Now that Vader is back, this missed opportunity can finally be corrected. Yes, Star Wars is about lightsaber fights and action, but the tragedy of Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi is also a serious mythological drama and a high stakes character studies rolled into one. With the return of Christensen as Vader, the Star Wars franchise can finally show us the human, psychological world of the most famous Sith lord of all. And in doing that, we might finally have an answer to another question: What is it like to really live with the Dark side every day of your life?

Obi-Wan Kenobi starts filming in March 2021.

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