Rogue One: A Star Wars Story writer Gary Whitta reveals his original idea for Darth Vader's epic fight scene. When Lucasfilm and Disney announced plans to continue the galaxy far, far away on the big screen, one of their ideas was making standalone films. The first project to do so was Rogue One, a film based around the Rebels who stole the plans to the Death Star that allowed for Luke Skywalker and his friends to blow it up in A New Hope.
Even though the movie focused on new characters, one of the marketing's points of focus was the inclusion of Darth Vader. He appeared in his prime and stole the show with his final lightsaber battle. Vader slaughtered several Rebels in the closing moments of the movie as they passed the plans hand-by-hand through their ship. As great as it was, the original pitch gave Vader an even bigger playing field.
Gary Whitta developed the story for Rogue One with John Knoll, the ILM VFX supervisor who first pitched the concept. During the developmental process, Whitta made his pitch for what the movie should entail. Not everything he pitched made it into the script, though. He's now revealed his original pitch for Vader's scene, and, while he believes the version on screen works better, his pitch would've given Vader the entirety of Scarif to fight through.
The version I pitched (but never wrote) had Vader on the Scarif beach single-handedly slaughtering his way through a Rebel blockade at the base of the Imperial tower. The version in the Raddus hallway works much better because it’s so contained, feels more horror than action. https://t.co/0BLNp2l6YK— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) July 23, 2018
The idea of Darth Vader appearing on Scarif to try and stop the Rebels doesn't work with what is featured in the final cut. However, Scarif was scheduled to be an even bigger part of the finale of Rogue One prior to reshoots. Just looking at the film's marketing and based on what is known to have changed, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and the rest of Rogue One were going to be running across the plains of Scarif to safely escort the Death Star plans - prior to the film changing to allow them to transmit the data.
Whitta's pitch for Vader's scene may not have made it very far in the creative process, but it still had plenty of potential. Vader's hallway lightsaber fight evokes a sense of fear thanks to the setting and atmosphere, so taking him to the beaches of Scarif may not have been able to pull off a similar effect. Still, the image of Vader making his way through an entire army of soldiers is tantalizing. It's the kind of action sequence many wanted to see from Vader during the prequels but never got. With the state of Star Wars spinoffs currently in question, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may be the last time Vader gets a chance to have a big lightsaber fight for awhile.
Source: Gary Whitta
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019