Darth Vader is the iconic villain at the heart of the Star Wars franchise; the prequel trilogy recounts his fall to the dark side of the Force, the original trilogy follows his children as they fight the Empire and (unknowingly) their father, and even The Force Awakens explores the void created by his death. Most recently, Darth Vader appeared in the first anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as well as on countless t-shirts, toys, and toasters. Vader's inclusion was also a part of Rogue One's marketing, and many fans speculated what his role in the film would be - and how much screen time he would have. While Vader's appearance in Rogue One was relatively brief, his terrifying butchering of Rebel soldiers at the end of the film was one of the most popular scenes in the film.
A few weeks ago, a rumor spread that Rogue One Darth Vader actor Spencer Wilding would appear in the upcoming Han Solo film. Wilding himself dismissed the rumor on his social media, but the buzz generated by a potential appearance from the Dark Lord of the Sith was both swift and not entirely dispelled by the actor's denial. Not only was Wilding's Facebook post disregarded by many of the publications who published the initial casting rumor, but some fans have also expressed their disappointment that Darth Vader will (apparently) not be appearing in the upcoming Han Solo film.
However, having Darth Vader appear in the untitled Han Solo movie would be a mistake, and while fans might look forward to seeing Vader next May when the Han Solo film is slated to be released, including him in the second Star Wars anthology film would signal a larger problem for the broader universe. His inclusion wouldn't make sense for the film and would set a dangerous precedent for later Star Wars anthology films.
There are plenty of reasons why Disney (who owns Lucasfilm) would see Darth Vader's inclusion in Han Solo as a positive. After all, Star Wars fans love Vader, and what Star Wars fans love translates into money. Darth Vader is the most profitable, most recognizable, and arguably most popular Star Wars character. His appearance in Rogue One generated buzz before the film and praise after the film. Additionally, by including Darth Vader in Rogue One, Disney had the opportunity to sell a new wave of Darth Vader merchandise. Of course, everything in Star Wars can be seen as a marketing ploy - take the new porgs which are set to appear in The Last Jedi this December - but Darth Vader illustrated in Rogue One that he was still as profitable as ever. Since Han Solo has had some production drama, including the departure of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller mid-production, Darth Vader might seem like the perfect teaser to encourage fans to come to the movie theaters next May.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018