Warning: This post includes potential spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Now that a few weeks of Star Wars: The Force Awakens box office have passed, the natural tendency for fans is to wonder what might have been. This brings us back to one spectacular rumor, which held that Hayden Christensen was somehow training for a “douchey side-braid” return as Anakin Skywalker. The buzz appeared to indicate a Star Wars: Episode VIII return, and god only knows what he’d be doing. This could still happen, but Christensen could have made an earlier appearance too.
As it turns out, there was talk of Christensen’s return to the franchise. Early concept art for The Force Awakens appears in a new coffee table book, The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The artwork, which you can see here, reveals Anakin looking pretty ghostly. Artist Iain McCaig revealed the process by which Akakin’s ghost was ultimately written out of the film:
“When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.” That inspired me to propose, for the first time, that Anakin’s ghost could come back … If we see Anakin Skywalker, because he does flow back and forth between Darth Vader and Anakin, let’s see him as a character with a dark and light side. The reason Luke is this whole new entity is because he was the first to acknowledge his own dark side — that it was not separate from him.”
The concept art reveals three different possibilities for Anakin’s appearance in the film. One of them shows a straight-up Vader visage, one looks completely human, and one version appears as an eerie hybrid. Ultimately, filmmakers decided to do away with the idea of Anakin’s ghostly return for The Force Awakens, which was likely the best decision. Folks weren’t happy with how Anakin’s ghost was tweaked up (replacing Sebastian Shaw with Christensen) at the end of Return of the Jedi.
Never forget how the shindig after the Battle of Endor was forever altered.