Rogue One: What is Darth Vader’s role in the upcoming film?


With the final Rogue One trailer’s release, new scenes including Darth Vader have us guessing exactly what the Sith Lord’s role will be in the film.

This morning, Rogue One released another trailer with two new scenes including Darth Vader. While not much is revealed, there’s plenty to speculate about. Especially since I’m going to guess most people are going to see this movie just for a glimpse of the man in the stupid helmet.

So, if the marketing campaign’s final trailer turned in the direction of the Sith, what role will Darth Vader play in this movie? At first, we guessed it would be a small one. But you can’t have a Star Wars movie, standalone or otherwise, without a Skywalker’s problems taking center stage.

Enter Lord Vader.

The first new glimpse in this trailer still gave us the back of his head, but it’s accompanied with a little more dialogue. We see Director Krennic dramatically explain that the Death Star’s power is immeasurable. In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we saw Darth Vader standing with Emperor Palpatine watching the Death Star being built.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Still (Credit: Lucasfilm, Disney)

Like, I’m sure Darth Vader knows how powerful the Death Star is going to be. Why does Director Krennic need to reiterate?

Personally, I think this is an indication that Rogue One will “bench” Darth Vader in the first act of the film. Most likely, he’s going to be sidelined in favor of a much more ruthless Director Krennic.

Moreover, we may see a subdued version of the character here. Chronologically, the film before Rogue One saw the Sith Lord slaughtering children, so I think he got a lot of his aggression out of the way. We probably haven’t seen a lot of him in the trailers because he’s probably not doing much. Emerging from the smoke is a cool visual, but not too menacing.

Actually, don’t be surprised if Darth Vader only serves as Palpatine’s silent enforcer in Rogue One. Just like in the original and sequel trilogy, Darth Vader’s presence will loom over the film without him actually presenting himself for more than a few scenes.

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On the other hand, imagine if they explored Darth Vader’s mythology quietly in the background.

While Director Krennic does his thing, Darth Vader probably has a lot of time to meditate and hone his force powers. We know from other Star Wars properties, like the comics and animated series, that Darth Vader’s background exceeds his unfortunate turn to the dark side. He also trained (and betrayed) Ahsoka Tano. Which means that the movies have only scratched the surface of the character’s rich history and emphasizes that Darth Vader serves the force before anyone else.

Plus, there’s a unexplained scene in the teaser where a hooded figure bows before some sort of light thing. We don’t know what to make of it yet, but maybe Vader goes to church. Obviously, Rogue One takes place during a time when the Jedi are basically extinct, but there’s still an unexplored spiritual aspect. Combined with Donnie Yen’s Chirrut, Vader is one of the few people openly practicing his force skills and maintaining his conviction in its power.

If you’ll remember in Episode IV: A New Hope, Darth Vader reminds everyone of the power of the force and follows Tarkin around like a dog. This probably isn’t a far cry from what we’ll see in Rogue One. Vader literally has to say, “Don’t underestimate the force!” It’s almost as if he’s trying to say, “Look, there are no Jedi, but I’m still here and I still believe.” If that doesn’t sound like hope, I don’t know what does.

We continue to see this fanboy theme in more recent films with Kylo Ren. However, we should probably acknowledge the other theme found in the Star Wars franchise, which Rogue One really played up today. And that is the father/daughter relationship. Of course, there’s Jyn and Galen Erso, Rey and whomever she’s related to, and Vader and Leia. Just because he had more facetime with Luke doesn’t mean Darth Vader didn’t have Leia at the back of his subconscious.

For example, the first planet the Death Star destroys is Princess Leia’s home planet, Alderaan. She feels awful about what happened, but I’ll never understand why Darth Vader stood so close to her during her exchange with Tarkin. I could only interpret it as silent comfort. He stands right on top of her and then keeps her hand on her shoulder the whole time!

Vader and Leia in Episode IV: A New Hope (Credit: Lucasfilm, Star Wars)

In addition, I think Episode VIII will push Rey to dabble in the dark side. Whether she’s a Kenobi, Solo, or Skywalker, she’ll probably have to decide whether she’ll follow the path of the Jedi or become a Sith. It’s the path every protagonist must take in a Star Wars film.

If anything, Rogue One‘s dual purpose is to prepare the audience for Episode VIII next year where Rey will struggle with her unresolved abandonment and daddy issues.

So, because Rogue One is a standalone and the primary focus is on Jyn, then what if the moral conflict comes from Darth Vader? Like, how did the rebels steal the plans from a heavily guarded battle station under the protection of a Sith Lord with nothing better to do than threaten anyone who crosses his path? Maybe he let them get away. Unlike Director Krennic, maybe Darth Vader doesn’t care about what the Empire thinks of him. He barely worries about the plans in Episode IV and he obsesses over Luke for the rest of the trilogy. Darth Vader probably doesn’t even really care about the Death Star.

Obviously, this isn’t to say I think we should interpret Darth Vader as a wimp. Just don’t forget the time he sat in the tea room on Cloud City waiting for Han and Leia like a dad would wait to for his daughter to bring home her date.

Next: The New Rogue One Poster Revealed By Director Gareth Edwards

Well, do you guys think Rogue One will explore more of Darth Vader’s mythology? Or is he just there to bait the audience?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on December 16.