Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit theaters, we can finally address whether or not the rumors that preceded its release turned out to be true. Take for instance, the rumor that Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker from the prequels) would return for a visit. (Spoilers ahead!) Well — while itturns out Anakin was nowhere to be found in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the rumors weren't actually that far off... and they certainly didn't come out of nowhere.
What I mean is, well — guys, Anakin was almost included.
Though The Force Awakens seemed to pretty much ignore the prequels and focus heavily on events and characters from the original trilogy, Anakin could have appeared as a Force ghost. At least, according to Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens book, where it's explained that the idea of Anakin as a Force ghost made it to the art concept stage. According to ScreenCrush, Ian McCaig, concept artist for the film, said the following:
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.
Unfortunately, it's tough to determine exactly how Anakin would have been incorporated just from this info. Considering how obsessed Kylo Ren was with his grandfather, Darth Vader, they could have worked something in there, between the two of them. But alas, for whatever reason, the idea was thrown away. Maybe Anakin was supposed to make his grand appearance in a scene that ended up getting cut, as The Force Awakens likely went through many narrative changes during its production.
The book — which was published the same day Force Awakens was released — doesn't just relay the possibility of an Anakin appearance. It also provides images that show how Christensen might have been portrayed in the film. Some of McCaig's iterations of Anakin as the Force ghost look exactly like the Anakin we saw in the prequels, and others, well, not so much. Others involve a two-faced, half Darth Vader/half Anakin scenario. A lit candle, and it's shadow, co-existing together, if you will.
Since we know that this concept art exists, it's not too much of a stretch to predict Christensen could have a spot as Anakin in either the upcoming Rogue One, or sometime between Episodes 8 and 9. Whatever Lucasfilm decides to do with Anakin though, the solution probably won't be an easy one. May the Force (ghost) be with them.
Images: Lucasfilm; Giphy (3)