The problem with this is that just because Darth Vader is profitable for Disney doesn't mean that he should appear in every possible Star Wars movie. Darth Vader could not be included in the Han Solo film without creating large narrative questions and potential plot holes. Technically, since the Han Solo film is set, like Rogue One, before the events of the original trilogy, it would be chronologically possible for Darth Vader to make an appearance. But if Darth Vader played a significant role in the development of the young Han Solo, why would their previous interactions never come up over the course of the original trilogy? Surely Darth Vader would recognize the Millennium Falcon aboard the Death Star or the scruffy-looking nerf-herder and Wookiee co-pilot if he had crossed paths with them before, and even if he didn't, Han Solo would probably remember running into the Dark Lord of the Sith.
On the other hand, if Darth Vader only appeared in the film for a cameo and plays no significant role, then his inclusion would be only for marketing and merchandise. Either way, Vader's inclusion in the Han Solo film would be more disruptive than exciting, both for Han Solo and other Star Wars films down the pipeline.
If Darth Vader appeared in Rogue One and Han Solo (the first two films that are classified by Lucasfilm as "anthology" films), then it establishes a troubling precedent. Will Darth Vader continue to appear in every Star Wars film that predates the Battle of Endor? Will Darth Vader become a necessary and reoccurring element in the Star Wars anthology films? If he did, it would lessen his impact.
Part of the reason why Darth Vader was so exciting in Rogue One was that he hadn't appeared on screen in his iconic helmet since Revenge of the Sith and hadn't embodied his classic villainous role since Return of the Jedi. Rogue One was the return of Darth Vader - his reappearance in Han Solo wouldn't carry the same power. And if Darth Vader appeared in a new Star Wars film every two years, his harrowing breath, skull visage, and crimson saber will lose the effect that they have on audiences around the world.
Darth Vader's presence in anthology films would also lessen the films' impact. At their core, the anthology films are meant to offer a different view of the galaxy far, far away. While the trilogy films are focused on the Skywalker family (and by that principle, focused on Darth Vader), the anthology films should offer the opportunity to explore other stories, other planets, and other protagonists. Darth Vader's presence in this films would continually draw the anthology films back to the story of the Skywalkers, and in the process, fans would miss out on the larger and unexplored corners of Star Wars.
Although it remains to be seen if Darth Vader will appear in the Han Solo film, it seems increasingly unlikely. However, fans should be glad if Vader does not appear in the film, as his inclusion would signal a troubling paradigm for future anthology films. Lucasfilm should endeavor to place story before marketing, and Darth Vader should be saved for the anthology films where he can play a crucial and captivating role.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018