At the end of the Revenge of the Sith, we saw a little bit of a different Darth Vader. For it was right after the death of his wife Padme, and the presumed death of his unborn children. He let out a much maligned “NoooOOOooooo!”, and for the remainder of the movie quietly walked and folded his arms until the end. The question is, will we see this solemn, low-energy Vader, or will we see the Vader from A New Hope, who is full of intensity and determination?
One clue to Vader’s mood is in an image in a set of playing cards, just reported by Star Wars News Net yesterday, and shown here:
So I notice two things about this image. One, is that the shoulder piece, as pointed out by the above linked SWNN article, is more similar to the RotS than the ANH Vader. The authors at SWNN have confirmed that this is a new shot for Rogue One with their sources. The second thing I notice is the “facial expression”, by which I mean the fact that Vader seems to be “hanging his head”. To me, this is the first shred of evidence that Vader is still in kind of a sad mood, even through the beginning of Rogue One. OK, so maybe this is a stretch, but to me the emotion seems to comes through so strongly that it seems intentional. They could have just as easily presented a fierce Vader staring head on, but they chose to tilt his head down.
The shoulder armor is very much in line with the Pop! toy seen here. I’m only pointing out the Pop! toy for further evidence because it does not appear to be consistent with the 3.75in Hasbro action figure shown here by Yak_face (found via Making Star Wars):
— Yakface (@yak_face) September 2, 2016
So this raises the question, could it be that Vader changes his suit in the film, and goes from the RotS Vader in both mood and suit, and changes into the ANH Vader toward the end of the film?
There were reports early on, about four months ago, that it is in fact Vader in that tube/bacta tank seen in the Rogue One trailer seen above. Making Star Wars has sources that claim that it is in fact Vader in the tank. From their article:
One source is certain that the blue tank we see in the teaser has Darth Vader inside it. This person has a lot of material associated with the production. They believe a sequence was filmed in which Darth Vader gets his limbs interchanged and repaired in the movie.
If true, such a transformation would explain why there appears to be two different versions of Vader’s suit in the toylines. Jason Ward at Making Star Wars goes on to say that this could explain why Vader is such a weak fighter in ANH, and it could also explain why he has more determination and focus in ANH.
We also speculated that the shot at the end of the Celebration trailer could be from Vader’s point of view, and he could be upside down in the tank. If indeed that is him in the tank, he could be looking at the cloaked figure walking up, but from an inverted perspective:
While this could also just be a reflection off of some sort of red panel, I think Vader’s point of view would be way cooler.
Kathy Kennedy described Vader’s role in the film by saying:
“He will be in the movie sparingly, but at a key, strategic moment, he’s going to loom large.”
The question is, when in the film? If indeed this part of the film causes Vader to sustain injuries so drastic that he will need a new suit, then I would suspect that it would have to be toward the end of the second act. This would be the best way to give time for him to get the repairs, and be in the ANH suit at the end of Rogue One, which leads directly into ANH.
Maxim suggests that Vader could be a badass in this one, based on Making Star Wars earlier report that suggests that he is a source of fear for the heroes. If so, it could be an intense fight sequence that puts Vader up against the Rebels in a fight that destroys Vader’s armor, causes him to be repaired with a weaker version that leads up to ANH, and turns him from a sad, moping, cyborg Sith to a ruthless, determined Dark Lord with a vengeance. Definitely looking forward to seeing this guy in action.