WARNING: This post contains possible spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is only days away from premiering in theaters around the world, and Lucasfilm has ramped up their marketing efforts in recent weeks to increase the already high levels of anticipation. The studio started unveiling promotional materials back in April, when the first teaser trailer was released online. While that preview was focused more on introducing new protagonist Jyn Erso, there was one talked-about shot that did not include Felicity Jones’ character at all. A mysterious scene depicted a cloaked figure entering a chamber that seemed to include a bacta tank flanked by two Imperial royal guards.
Longtime Star Wars fans know bacta is a healing substance used in the galaxy far, far away, so theories about who was in the tank flooded the Internet. Curiously, this particular shot has not been used in any of the advertisements since the teaser, but that has not stopped hypotheses from being formed. One of the more fascinating ones to consider speculates that none other than Darth Vader is submerged, and Lucasfilm may have accidentally revealed the “proof” in a new behind-the-scenes featurette.
The theory comes through Reddit via Star Wars News Net (hat tip Toa_Quarax), citing evidence seen in a video detailing the creatures and aliens of Rogue One. In that video, there is a brief glimpse of actor Ian Whyte testing out his costume for Moroff. The background contains some other props for the movie. One of these is a sculpting of a human body missing limbs and wearing a breathing mask similar to Luke Skywalker’s in The Empire Strikes Back (when Luke was dunked in bacta to recover from the Wampa attack). SWNN suggests that the body bears a strong resemblance to Anakin Skywalker’s charred figure following his duel against Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar. Viewers may recall that the then newly-christened Darth Vader lost all his arms and legs in that fight, and this model from Rogue One is clearly sans arms. Concept art hidden in the background shows that this character is also without his legs, making the comparisons to Anakin apt.
This is certainly a plausible theory, especially with the dismembered torso for moviegoers to examine. The presence of the red-clad Imperial guards also lends credence to the notion of Vader being the medical patient, since their appearance typically coincides with someone of high importance to the Empire. As for who is visiting the bacta tank and why (allegedly) Vader requires the treatment remains to be seen until Rogue One is released; though, SWNN has some ideas about the latter of those two that are worth reading – including regular therapy sessions and wounds suffered during a battle.
As stated above, the bacta tank (if that’s what it really is) imagery has been conspicuously absent from all of the trailers and TV spots that have come out since the summer, causing some to theorize that the scene may have been cut following the extensive reshoots Rogue One underwent. However, Lucasfilm probably included it in the first preview for a reason and may have chosen not to elaborate on it further to preserve any spoilers. All will be revealed soon, and fans will be keeping a close eye out for this sequence.