To say that Star Wars fans have been anticipating Darth Vader's return in Rogue One is really putting it lightly. The ultimate figure of evil, Darth Vader has four scenes in Rogue One and literally takes no prisoners in his drive to fulfill his dastardly plans. Major Rogue One SPOILERS ahead. Darth Vader only appears in a few scenes in Rogue One, but the film makes sure that when he appears, he really makes his presence known. All scenes considered, he has roughly 15 minutes of screen time; considering Rogue One is over two hours, that is a meager amount of time for Star Wars' most inimitable villain.
Vader first appears towards the end of the second act, after Orson Krennic's confrontation with Galen Erso. Krennic goes to see the Sith lord not only to discuss what to do about Galen's treachery, but to get the approval to regain control of the Death Star away from Grand Moff Tarkin. The sequence begins with the reveal of Darth Vader without of his iconic suit. His henchman approaches a man encased in a preservation fluid of some sort — his body is clearly burned and he's missing hands and legs. (As a reminder, that is how Obi-Wan left Anakin Skywalker at the end of Revenge of The Sith, right before he first donned the Darth Vader suit.) As the liquid drains away, the henchman remarks that Krennic is waiting and then the iconic mechanized inhale is heard: the true hallmark of Vader's menacing presence.
The next scene is of a conversation between Krennic and Darth Vader. Krennic informs him about the movements of the Rogue One team, Erso's actions to obtain the Death Star plans, and then how Krennic's power has been usurped from him by Grand Moff Tarkin. (See: whining.) It becomes evident rather quickly that Darth Vader has little time to care about the minor issues that arise on the road to total galactic domination; he makes sure to remind Krennic of that fact pretty quickly. In one of two moments in which Force abilities are actually used in Rogue One, Darth Vader Force chokes Krennic as he returns to his private quarters, only stopping to tell Krennic that his ambitions are blinding him from the bigger picture.
Finally, we see Vader a few more times, albeit briefly. During the Rebel invasion on Scarif, Darth Vader appears to end the battle once and for all. As Jyn and Cassian scale the vault tower that holds the Death Star records, Cassian is shot and Jyn believes him to be dead. It's revealed that an Imperial fighter shot at Cassian at the behest of Vader.
Later, during the last five minutes, we see a group of Rebel fighters barreling down a long hallway to get the copied transmission of the Death Star plans off an Imperial ship and into safe hands. Darth Vader appears, lightsaber in hand, and uses the Force to slam a doorway shut, preventing escape. Luckily, the door jams and a small opening allows one Rebel fighter to hand off the plans while Darth Vader mows down the trapped Rebels, using his lightsaber and the Force to take them down one by one.
Overall, Darth Vader makes the most of his limited Rogue One screen time, proving once again he is one of the most thrilling characters in the Star Wars canon.
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