How Big Is Darth Vader's Role In 'Rogue One'?

by Kaitlin Reilly

If you're a Star Wars fan, you know the struggle has been so very real waiting for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the upcoming Rogue One, a new chapter in the Star Wars story that is set before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. The upcoming film, which hits theaters on Dec. 16, 2016 (so soon! Ish!) has a very intriguing premise that should please any fan of the original trilogy. Rogue One, which stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and Forest Whitaker, tells the story of the group of Rebels who team up to steal the Empire's plans for the Death Star, thus setting off events that propel the future of the Star Wars universe. We now know that the film will directly connect with one major player in universe: Darth Vader will appear in Rogue One , though we'll have to wait to see just how large his role will really be. With a new trailer for Rogue One due to air during the Olympics on Thursday, Star Wars fans are dying to know what the deal is with the galaxy's Big Bad.

The good news? He'll sound exactly as you remember — if you're remembering this character from the original trilogy and not the often-trashed prequels, in which Darth Vader (or, rather, Anakin Skywalker) is played by Hayden Christensen. James Earl Jones will voice Darth Vader in Rogue One , as he did in the original films, but you might not see the villain quite as much as we did in the past. According to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy's interview with Entertainment Weekly, "[Darth Vader] will be in the movie sparingly... But at a key, strategic moment, he's going to loom large."

It's not the only thing we know about Darth Vader's presence in the films. According to Entertainment Weekly, the films Rebels are, at this point in history, "barely familiar" with Luke Skywalker's dad, and even the Empire isn't totally sure who they have on their side. Director Gareth Edwards told Entertainment Weekly: “Within the Empire, there is the culture of knowing of the existence of Darth Vader. There’s definitely an underlying feeling that there is a power — a dark power — available to the Empire and that if you overstep your mark, you will suffer the consequences.”

Darth Vader's villainy will actually take a back seat in Rogue One to the film's main antagonist, who is reportedly Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), a man who is definitely not Darth Vader's pal. So while Darth Vader will appear in the new film, it seems to be more as a teaser of things to come for the galaxy, rather than as a huge extension of the backstory most fans thought they learned in the prequel series. That could be good for Rogue One: fans will certainly feel like they're seeing a brand new story, even if an iconic character does loom large in the background.

Images: 20th Century Fox; Giphy