Darth Vader’s middle years could finally make sense. In the upcoming Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, the period of time in which Darth Vader truly become the character we know from the classic Star Wars trilogy will be given new meaning.
That’s because, if you think about it, we haven’t really seen Darth Vader in his prime. But here’s why new comments from Obi-Wan director Deborah Chow suggest the biggest revelations about the Dark Lord of the Sith are yet to come.
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Vader before A New Hope
In a new interview with EW, Deborah Chow illuminated the ways the Darth Vader in this series will differ from what we’ve seen before. It all comes down to timing:
“For us, it's very similar [to Obi-Wan] in the sense that he's in between these two trilogies. So he isn't the New Hope Vader quite yet, you know what I mean? So we are with the character sort of in the middle of this period. It is still Vader obviously, but it's a Vader that isn't quite as fully formed as A New Hope.”
Because Obi-Wan Kenobi happens 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, that puts it roughly nine years before A New Hope. But what does that mean? In terms of what we know about Vader thus far, it actually could be a pretty big game-changer.
The lost Darth Vader origin
In terms of canonical on-screen appearances of Darth Vader outside the classic trilogy, there’s not much to go on. The final moments of Revenge of the Sith give us a full-costumed Vader roughly 19 years before A New Hope. Then you’ve got Vader’s appearances in Rebels, which span about 5 BBY to 0 BBY. Vader’s role in Rogue One takes place around 0 BBY too. And while comics and some novels pepper in Vader cameos and storylines, what we’ve seen of the biggest chunk of Vader’s life remains largely unexplored.
Why does this matter? Well, right now the story of Anakin Skywalker is mostly three films of him as Anakin from childhood to his early twenties, the entirety of The Clone Wars sandwiched in between the latter two of the prequel films, and then the classic trilogy when Anakin has become Darth Vader. By the time Luke unmasks Vader in Return of the Jedi, Anakin is about 45-years-old.
This means that at the start of Obi-Wan Kenobi, we’ll meet a version of Vader who’s about 32-years-old. Chow hints at the character not being “fully formed,” but we’ve only really seen Vader either as a young man before he changed his name or just a few years before his demise. This means that most of his life as Darth Vader is something we haven’t seen.
Ever since the earliest hints at a previously unchronicled meeting between Obi-Wan and Vader in the new series, theories have been flying that Kenobi will finally explain that line from Return of the Jedi where Vader tells Luke, “Obi-Wan once thought as you do.” But the idea that we’re dealing with a much younger version of Darth Vader is actually much bigger than solving one dangling plotline from Return of the Jedi.
By the time of the classic trilogy, Darth Vader is essentially a distinct character, separate from Anakin Skywalker. 41-year-old Vader is consistent with his behavior until he realizes he might be able to recruit his son. However, we have no idea what 32-year-old Vader is like. While he acts the way we expect him to in Rogue One and A New Hope, it’s possible that Chow is hinting at something more radical. The differences between how people behave can vary greatly from decade to decade. And as Chow says, we’ll see some of that exploration with Obi-Wan himself.
Both of these characters have to end up in the same place, completing the circle in A New Hope. But who Vader is, and how he gets there, could be shocking. The prequels told the story of Anakin. Are we finally getting the backstory of Vader?
Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney+ on May 25, 2022.