After seeing a story that takes place 30 years after Return of the Jedi in 2015's Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, fans of the galaxy far, far away will be going back in time for a tale set prior to the events of the original film in this year's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The film is the first standalone anthology film in the franchise, and will detail the Rebel Alliance's daring mission to steal the first Death Star plans, one that's alluded to in A New Hope's opening crawl.
Director Gareth Edwards is looking to bring back the classic trilogy style with his film. Leaked set photos have illustrated that the old X-wing and stormtrooper designs will be back on the big screen for the first time since 1983. And that's not all. Rogue One will also mark the live-action return of none other than Darth Vader, one of the biggest reasons why this is the most anticipated movie of 2016. As fans await the Dark Lord of the Sith's comeback, some possible details have emerged on how the Rogue One team is putting the character together.
Making Star Wars is reporting that Lucasfilm has assembled a so-called "Darth Vader Dream Team" to ensure all elements of the villain are as perfect as they can be. Costume designer Brian Muir has meticulously constructed Vader's Rogue One suit to match what was seen in the original Star Wars. That's an interesting point of clarification that gives fans some idea of how Vader will look in the new film. In A New Hope, the eyes on Vader's helmet were tinted dark red, an effect that was not carried over into sequels. It's a cool aspect that shows the filmmakers are paying attention, keeping series continuity in mind. If Rogue One leads directly into A New Hope, it makes sense for Vader to look the same in both movies.
In what should come as no surprise at all, the legendary James Earl Jones will once again provide the voice for Vader. The actor has reprised his iconic role for episodes of Star Wars Rebels, so it was expected he'd be involved with Rogue One. Jones' baritone vocals are a defining character trait, making the man irreplaceable in regards to any Vader appearance. There are many who can imitate his inflections, but Jones has become so ingrained in fans' minds that getting the real deal is a must for Rogue One. Jones has become so ingrained in pop culture that anyone else doing the voice would arguably be distracting and stick out.
One element Making Star Wars is unsure of is the actor who will fill the Vader suit. The only word they have is that it will be a new actor who has never played the character before. That would put Hayden Christensen (who wore the costume at the end of Episode III) out of the running, though recent comments from the prequel star indicate he would not be up for a Star Wars return even if he was asked. This is of little concern. As long as Lucasfilm finds a tall, bodybuilder type (a la David Prowse) who can act imposing, they should be fine. Jones is the one who gives the character personality, so getting the most talented thespian to "play" Darth Vader is not a necessity.
It should be noted that this is all rumor for now, but it definitely lines up with what's been reported before. Vader is returning to the big screen, which is an exciting proposition for longtime fans to consider. The only question is how large his role in Rogue One will be. Regardless of how much screen time he gets, Lucasfilm will more than likely ensure Vader fits organically into the story (if their handling of returning veterans in Episode VII is any indication) and leave a memorable impact on the final film.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Making Star Wars