Hayden Christensen Playing A Different Version Of Darth Vader?

Although Hayden Christensen is returning as Darth Vader for the Obi-Wan series, it has been announced that it will be a different version of the character.

By Vic Medina | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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In December of 2020, Lucasfilm set Star Wars fandom ablaze with the announcement that Hayden Christensen would return to the role of Darth Vader for the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, starring Ewan McGregor. Fans have been speculating ever since how that would play out in the live-action Star Wars series, premiering May 25 on the popular streaming service. We now have a clue, thanks to series director Deborah Chow, who teases that the Darth Vader we will see in Kenobi won’t be like the Dark Lord of the Sith we have known for years.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Chow outlined that when Hayden Christensen dons the mask as Vader once again, he will be a character different from the one we saw in 1977’s A New Hope or 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. That Darth Vader was at the height of his Force powers, and the one in Obi-Wan Kenobi is still on a journey (of sorts) to that point. “For us, it’s very similar [to Obi-Wan] in the sense that he’s in between these two trilogies. So he isn’t the New Hope Vader quite yet. So we are with the character sort of in the middle of this period. It is still Vader obviously, but it’s a Vader that isn’t quite as fully formed as A New Hope.”

Chow states in the interview that the decision to bring Hayden Christensen back as Vader was not an easy one, indicating it wasn’t done for the sake of fan service. “It wasn’t just to sort of bring him back,” she said. “It was really like, who means something and where are we at this point in the timeline with Vader?”

In a 2020 tweet from the official Star Wars Twitter account announcing the return of Hayden Christensen, Lucasfilm revealed that the Obi-Wan Kenobi series is set ten years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Geekosity points out that there is a 19-year-gap between the Prequel Trilogy and Original Trilogy, so we will see both Vader and Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan in the exact middle of their personal journeys. For Vader, that could mean that his Dark Side powers are still growing, so he isn’t that powerful yet. We could also see a Vader with some remnants of Anakin still within, who is still mourning the loss of Padme and perhaps regretting his actions – regret we don’t see in the original trilogy nine years later. McGregor has already stated that seeing Christensen back on a set as Vader was “spine-tingling,” raising hopes his appearance will win over fans.

Purists have complained that having Hayden Christensen return as Darth Vader – and fight Obi-Wan once again – contradicts a major plot point from the original Star Wars film. In their climactic lightsaber duel aboard the Death Star, Darth Vader tells Obi-Wan “When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.” This led fans to believe that the two never faced off again after their fateful duel in which Anakin was burned and fully turned to the Dark Side, depicted in Revenge of the Sith. Chow seems to acknowledge this in the interview, stating of Vader’s return “a story point like that is going to be scrutinized at a very high level. We talked about it constantly.”

Now that we know the Vader we see in Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t the Sith “master” we see in A New Hope, his return isn’t a contradiction. He could still be “learning” the ways of the Dark Side, which would reinforce his statement. It also opens some interesting possibilities with Hayden Christensen exploring the nature of Vader himself, something he didn’t have a chance to do in Revenge of the Sith. We know that Christensen will also reprise the role of Anakin/Vader in the upcoming Ahsoka series, so Lucasfilm appears to be happy with how the actor’s return is working out.

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