Since the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One, was announced last year, Darth Vader was said be appearing in the movie — although in what capacity has remained a question mark until now.
Entertainment Weekly has received official confirmation that Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones once again) will indeed be back, and will be a looming presence over the whole movie.
“[Vader will] be in the movie sparingly,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said. “But at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s main villain will be Orson Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn, who will report directly to Emperor Palpatine. Vader is still the right hand of Palpatine and his threat of punishment in the event of failure, but will once again feel left out of the loop, just as Anakin Skywalker did by the Jedi Council in Attack of the Clones.
As writer Anthony Breznican explained on Good Morning America:
“Darth Vader kind of looms large over the plot even when he’s not necessarily on screen, because the new villain…[is] trying to fulfill the wishes of the Emperor. He’s got Vader looming in the background over his shoulder, making sure he gets the job done.”
Director Gareth Edwards summed up Vader’s presence in Rogue One thusly:
“Within the Empire, there is the culture of knowing of the existence of Darth Vader. There’s definitely an underlying feeling that there is a power — a dark power — available to the Empire, and that if you overstep your mark, you will suffer the consequences.”
Considering we know the Rogue Squadron will succeed and kick off the events of A New Hope by stealing the Death Star’s schematics, it seems inevitable that Vader will get to enforce those consequences by film’s end.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theatres December 16, 2017.