The wait for every major movie is fraught with a number of exciting, dismaying, and even outright bizarre rumors. There's no bigger movie on the horizon than Star Wars: Episode 7, and just as you'd expect, it seems that every new day we hear rumors that run the gamut from thought-provoking to ridiculous.
With a writer confirmed for the new, Disney-owned trilogy, the time has come for these rumors to turn toward plot details. The last day has seen a particular piece of gossip as huge as it is improbable - sources say that Star Wars: Episode 7 will see the return of one of the most iconic fictional villains of all time, Darth Vader.
British newspaper The Daily Express has reported that Darth Vader will be resurrected during the course of Star Wars Episode 7. According to the article, a "mole" within the film's production has declared that Episode 7's creative team considers Vader "integral" to Star Wars. This anonymous source claims, "The plan is for [Darth Vader] to return and play a significant role in the new films."
This is the purest sort of production rumor - unsubstantiated, echoing widely, and returning without so much as a peep from anyone involved with the film. We may hear from Disney regarding the report in the coming days, but for the moment The Daily Express's article has had to speak for itself. Its lack of clear source and provocative subject make it rather dubious, but such reports have sometimes contained a glimmer of truth. If there's even the slightest veracity in the rumor, it sheds quite a bit of light on the narrative direction of the upcoming Star Wars sequels.
When the supposed mole within Episode 7's production states that Vader is integral to the franchise, the statement is difficult to debate. All six of the previous Star Wars installments have revolved - in one way or another - around the Sith Lord. As such, the prospect of sliding back into that universe without its most constant and recognizable element must feel daunting indeed. However, Episode 7 has a very important question to answer up front if it really intends to go through with Vader's rebirth: What role will Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker play in the new trilogy?
If the films' creative team decides to reintroduce Vader as an antagonist, all bets are off. Bringing Vader back from the dead as the new trilogy's heavy almost completely unravels the thematic arc of the previous films. This move would be seen as cynical and repetitive, grabbing lamely at the iconography of the first films in lieu of any new and original ideas. Such a development could spell disaster, and in light of the talent being brought to bear on this project, I highly doubt that it will come to pass.
Instead, it seems much more likely that Vader's proposed return will be in a guiding capacity - perhaps as a Force ghost, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi after his own death. If rumors of a new generation of Skywalkers/Solos prove true, then it would make sense (and provide stronger ties to the first six films) for Anakin Skywalker to guide his descendants from beyond the veil of death. This would maintain the arc of Anakin's fall and redemption while also providing a launching point to explore the deeper mysteries of the Force.
No matter the ratio of truth to nonsense in this rumor, it shows just how much interest remains in the Star Wars property. Hopefully, we'll hear some official confirmation or denial soon, if only to calm our restless imaginations.
Star Wars: Episode 7 will appear in theaters in the summer of 2015.