Beware: Spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens abound in this post.
As development on Star Wars: The Force Awakens took a few rather interesting turns over the course of the screenwriting and pre-production phases, many people (myself included) began anticipating something other than the release of the film—the release of the tell-all book that dives into the behind-the-scenes stories. We only know vaguely that producer Kathleen Kennedy’s director search touched on a few names we’re familiar with after J.J. Abrams first passed (David Fincher being one of them), and we know that after a year of working with Abrams, screenwriter Michael Arndt was essentially “let go” as Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over screenwriting duties. What did that original version of Episode VII entail, and why was it jettisoned?
A bit more light was shed recently when Arndt opened up about the screenwriting process, revealing that one of his early ideas involved having Luke Skywalker as a main character in the film. Well it turns out another character we know quite well was also originally supposed to appear: Anakin Skywalker. That’s right, Kylo Ren’s grandpappy was on tap to make an appearance in Episode VII, but the idea was—obviously—discarded somewhere along the line.
However, the new book The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens actually reveals some concept art of Anakin’s ghost, showing us exactly how he might have looked had he popped up within the context of the film.
— Indy Film (@TheIndyFilm) December 27, 2015
So what’s with the Two-Face treatment? Artist Iain McCaig explains (via ScreenCrush):
“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.”
It’s unclear exactly how Anakin fit into the story of the movie, which no doubt was quite different from what we’re seeing now, but it’s not hard to imagine Ghost Anakin appearing before (or haunting, maybe?) Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. Indeed, in The Force Awakens, when Ren is talking to Darth Vader’s disfigured mask, he asks his grandpa to show him “again” the power of the darkness, alluding to the fact that he’s conversed with Vader before.
It’s entirely possible that Abrams and Co. decided Anakin wasn’t appropriate for The Force Awakens, but that Kennedy still plans on bringing the character back for Episode VIII or Episode IX. If that happens, he may look a little something like the above artwork. The question then is, does Hayden Christensen return? The prequels aside, we know the guy is capable of delivering a good performance in films like Shattered Glass, so maybe director Rian Johnson can finally give Christiansen a bit of a redemption.
We’ll find out (or not) when Episode VIII opens in theaters on May 26, 2017. For plenty more looks at the development of The Force Awakens, click here to purchase The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
For more on The Force Awakens, peruse our recent links below.
- ‘Star Wars’ Crosses $1B Worldwide on Record-Breaking Christmas Weekend
- Watch the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Cast Answer Who Shot First, Han or Greedo?
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: Who Are Rey’s Parents?
- Watch J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan Discuss Making ‘The Force Awakens’ for 32 Minutes
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: The Many Problems with Maz Kanata
- ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’: J.J. Abrams Explains That Deleted Scene with Maz and the Lightsaber