Whoa, Darth Vader Will Return in This Year's 'Star Wars' Prequel

darth vader to appear in rogue one
20th Century Fox

After Revenge of the Sith, no one -- including the most dedicated Star Wars fans -- clamored for more Anakin Skywalker.

Really, the ending of Return of the Jedi was enough. We saw Darth Vader escape the grasp of the Dark Side, push the Emperor down an inconveniently placed ventilation shaft, and hug it out with his son Luke Skywalker. Not exactly redemption for blowing up Alderaan, but hey, a guy has to start somewhere.

Despite the conclusion, George Lucas insisted on backtracking and charting the evolution of Boy Darth in his prequel films, starting with scrappy podracer Annie Skywalker in The Phantom Menace and ending with the suited Darth Vader, Star Wars' version of the "Million Dollar Man." The Empire had the technology.

You'd think that would be the end of it. But an AFI top-100 villain does not go quietly into the night. Vader will return.

There's hope to the latest idea: according to Entertainment Weekly, the temperamental Sith lord will appear in Rogue One, the first of many proposed spinoffs to the original saga. "Darth Vader kind of looms large over the plot, even when he's not on screen," EW reporter Anthony Breznican said in a Good Morning America segment accompanying the announcement. "The new villain, played by Ben Mendelsohn, he's trying to fulfill the wishes of the Emperor, and he's got Vader looming in the background, over his shoulder." We hope they mean that literally.

How can Star Wars bring back Darth Vader? Simple: Rogue One takes place in the villain's prime. "Prequel" may be a dirty word for this franchise, but it's the basis for this spinoff, which picks up prior to the events of the very first Star Wars (Episode IV) and supposedly wraps up seconds before Vader bursts onto Princess Leia's spaceship. So while there won't be a Rey cameo, there may be connections to the recent trilogy ignited by The Force Awakens.

Rogue One stars Felicity Jones (the Oscar-nominated Theory of Everything) as Jyn Erso, a Han Solo-esque outlaw enlisted by the Rebellion to steal the plans for the Death Star. Styled more as a war movie than any previous Star Wars assignment, Rogue One will take Jyn Erso to new planets and a few familiar sets. Diego Luna (Y Tu Mamá También), Jiang Wen (Let the Bullets Fly), Donnie Yen (the Ip Man series), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), and Alan Tudyk (Firefly), playing a motion-captured robot, round out her team of bandits. 

Who will disturb the Force and who will suffer from an invisible chokehold? We'll know when Rogue One lands on December 16th. We know we should be skeptical, but we can't help it: we're excited for more Darth Vader. 

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Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian. Find him on Twitter: @misterpatches.