After Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated his former apprentice Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith, we assumed this was the last time they saw each other until their fateful duel on the Death Star in A New Hope. We were wrong.
In fact, Hayden Christensen is set to return as Darth Vader in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, which is set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, to confront Obi-Wan, completely shattering what we thought we knew about each character’s history leading up to A New Hope.
“This will be the rematch of the century,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy teased during a Disney Investors Day presentation in December. While she didn’t go into detail about what she meant by “rematch,” this could be interpreted as another duel between these Star Wars giants.
Obi-Wan, who will be played once again by Ewan McGregor, has been in exile on Tatooine for a decade, while secretly watching over a young Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile, Darth Vader has spent the last few years hunting down the remaining Jedi in the galaxy, showing no mercy for his former family of Force users. What’s bringing these two characters back together at this point in the Star Wars timeline — 9 years before A New Hope — is unclear, but it’s likely that either Obi-Wan left Tatooine on a mission at some point that brought him face-to-face with the Sith Lord, or Vader paid a visit to his home planet.
We know from the Marvel comics that Vader went back to Tatooine after the events of A New Hope to learn more about the young Rebel who destroyed the Death Star, but since Disney rebooted canon, much of the villain’s history after the Clone Wars remains hazy. In the old Legends continuity, Darth Vader set out to hunt down Obi-Wan right after the events of the Prequel Trilogy but failed to locate the Jedi Master, who did have a run in with Boba Fett later on in his exile. How much any of this will inspire Disney’s take remains to be seen, although the House of Mouse has been more keen to borrow elements from Legends of late.
What we do know for sure is that Christensen’s return to Star Wars, like McGregor’s own, has been a long time in the making. Most famously, director J.J. Abrams and the rest of the creative team that developed the story for The Force Awakens wrestled with whether to include Christensen in the Sequel Trilogy opener. Concept art from that pre-production stage shows Christensen as a dark side version of a Force ghost that appears to Kylo Ren in the famous scene when the villain asks his grandfather to help him finish what Vader started. It’s a cameo that would have immediately drawn gasps from the audience. Just look at the designs Abrams and company were considering:
It’s clear that this version of Anakin’s Force ghost, which first appeared in Return of the Jedi, would have been closer to the half-man half-machine nightmare of Darth Vader, whom Kylo Ren worshiped.
Rian Johnson also recently revealed that he considered bringing back Christensen as a Force ghost in The Last Jedi for the scene where Luke plans to burn the sacred Jedi texts on Ahch-To. This would have allowed Luke and his father to have one last conversation before the Jedi Master’s final duel on Crait.
Briefly for the tree burning scene, but luke’s relationship was with Vader not really anakin, which seemed like it would complicate things more than that moment allowed. Yoda felt like the more impactful teacher for that moment.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) December 1, 2020
Christensen did finally cameo in The Rise of Skywalker as one of the many Jedi who speak to Rey on Exegol and give her the strength to destroy Palpatine once and for all. It wasn’t really the Christensen return many fans had hoped for but it was a nice nod to the character nonetheless.
Yet, while Christensen may have missed out on a nostalgia-fueled cameo in the flesh, he seems happy to be back now for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series.
“It was such an incredible journey playing Anakin Skywalker,” said Christensen. “Of course, Anakin and Obi-Wan weren’t on the greatest of terms when we last saw them… It will be interesting to see what an amazing director like Deborah Chow has in store for us all. I’m excited to work with Ewan again. It feels good to be back.”
Chow will direct the miniseries from a script penned by Joby Harold (John Wick 3). Obi-Wan Kenobi is scheduled to begin filming in March 2021 and will premiere on Disney+ in 2022.
More Star Wars news as we learn it.