By now, you’ve probably seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Based on the film’s box office retuns, perhaps you’ve seen it multiple times. As we move further away from the “stand-alone” Star Wars spin-off, the veil of secrecy is lifted further as fear of spoiling those who’ve yet to make it to the theater lessens. However, if you’ve yet to see Rogue One, there are spoilers involving both the film’s ending and Darth Vader beyond this point.
In the harrowing final moments of Rogue One, the audience follows the Death Star plans as they are passed from one dying member of the Alliance to another until they safely make it into a young Princess Leia’s hands. The cause of death? Darth Vader being a great big ball of blurring lightsaber and simmering hate. The Lord of the Sith barrels down the hallway after the Death Star plans, throwing extras against the wall and the ceiling as casually as a child would toss a doll. His lightsaber makes quick work of his enemies. It’s seemingly only thanks to the needs of the plot that the plans make it to Leia at all, while Vader watches her ship jump to hyperspace and temporary escape. Now, thanks to a Yahoo! Movies interview with Rogue One editor John Gilroy, we now know this fist-pumping action sequence was part of the reshoots.
“What was added — and it was a fantastic add — was the Vader action scene, with him boarding the ship and dispatching all those rebel soldiers.That was something conceptualized a little later. It was a really great punch in the arm and something I think fans wanted to see.”
The article goes on to say the the scene was added when the Rogue One brain trust decided to up the Dark Side factor. And in the end, it was a great moment of fan service, because unless you’ve been watching Star Wars Rebels (and why haven’t you?) it was also the first time you’d seen Darth Vader in action in a while. But that’s now also a problem. I can overlook that in A New Hope Captain Antilles plays chicken with Darth Vader, claiming they received no transmission or plans. What other move does he have? Vader already knows the truth. Of course Leia would also lie; plausible deniability to the Senate. What I can’t overlook is that Darth Vader went from making short work of half a dozen nameless Red Shirts™ and a few weeks later is fighting Obi-Wan Kenobi like this:
For years, fans had assumed this was a battle in the twilight years of two old adversaries. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader were like two senior citizens fighting it out for the last time in the memory of their former glory. But now that we know Darth Vader was capable of pancaking Obi-Wan into the metal floor at any given moment, what is going on in this scene? Especially relevant too now that it appears Old Ben Kenobi was still in fighting form a few years before this showdown.
Did Rogue One think of this when shooting a sequence of Darth Vader being as Darth Vader as possible without involving the murder of children? Hopefully. There are several possible explanations. Perhaps the fight at the end of Rogue One took nearly all of Vader’s energy, or he was injured off-screen between the two fights. Or, my personal favorite, Vader was merely toying with Obi-Wan. To what end? Who knows. Maybe in the hopes of capturing and torturing his old mentor. Maybe Vader couldn’t bring himself to sever the last link to his past. There’s all kinds of explanations out there. But whatever the Lucasfilm Story Group settles one, hopefully they’ll announce it sooner than whatever the hold up is on what killed Padme.