Ask anyone who their favorite movie villain is and Darth Vader will be a popular choice. It’s for good reason, considering how iconic the cyborg/Sith Lord really is. He wears a very cool mask and yet we can tell what he’s feeling, which is why we never needed him yelling, “Noooooo!!!” You can close your eyes and just hear his famous breathing; it’s a quote famous enough for him. Darth Vader is awesome, simple enough, but his story was told. We got to see him as the intimidating dark lord of the Sith and even beforehand as the intense hater of sand called Anakin Skywalker. That part of his story was pretty underwhelming, but at least we still have the actual Darth Vader to remember. Despite Vader’s death in Return of the Jedi, Star Wars isn’t done with putting him on display. And in all honesty, who can complain?
With more Star Wars movies coming our way, how many fans would be totally stoked to see more Darth Vader? I know, I’ve argued before that Star Wars should divert from the Skywalker storyline, but there’s always an exception. In this case, that exception revolves around a risky, but interesting possibility: a Darth Vader solo movie. If it sounds like a cash grab, just keep in mind how much his story has been expanded beyond the movies. Whether you follow Canon or Legends, the Star Wars novels and comic books have proven that Vader kept himself occupied during the reign of the Empire.
Before I dig into it further, I’m going to talk about the 2018 Han Solo movie. That was a risky move from the get-go and it had to do with the lack of Harrison Ford. A younger Han Solo meant casting another actor and that alone was a great risk. Ford owns the role of Han Solo and he was very adamant on killing him off and never returning to Star Wars. Well, that didn’t stop a Solo movie from happening and what we got was, in my opinion, a decent movie. It was fun, but not very memorable, and worst of all, it tanked at the box office. That’s bad news for Star Wars and any future films that are being planned.
The most vital lesson we could learn from Solo’s failure is that character popularity doesn’t matter. A Star Wars movie called Solo that’s based on Han Solo should’ve be an instant hit, but it wasn’t. That was surprising, but there were several factors involved. First off, no Harrison Ford, and that was enough to make people uninterested. Then there was the Star Wars movie that came out before it, The Last Jedi, a movie that drew a long line dividing Star Wars fans. When that movie was released, the fanbase of Star Wars changed for the worst. In fact, it got pretty toxic and the topic instigated some heated arguments. That toxicity carries on to this day and it shows no signs of stopping. It’s unfortunate, but the hate towards The Last Jedi really made fans lose their enthusiasm for the subsequent Solo movie.
As a result, reactions to the film were lackluster and money was lost. The point I’m emphasizing is that it doesn’t matter how popular the character is. If the marketing is lacking (which it was) and the movie itself isn’t that great, it won’t attract a big audience. There really wasn’t much to do with a Han Solo movie to begin with, other than showing us how he met Chewie. The space heist element worked, but it didn’t last long. That was disappointing, especially since the chances of a sequel are very slim. However, the failure of Solo doesn’t have to taint the Star Wars name forever. While I would certainly like to see more original characters introduced in the Star Wars universe, another solo film for other popular characters can work.
And we go back full circle to the big bad himself, Darth Vader. A movie titled, Vader, is enough to attract attention, but it still needs a plot. As a reader of the comics and novels, I can corroborate how important these are to his development. We’ve seen how Anakin turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader, as well as a major enemy to Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. So what exactly was he doing in between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope?
When Emperor Palpatine gave the order to execute Order 66, almost all of the Jedi were killed. However, some were lucky enough to survive and went into hiding. Palpatine didn’t like that and that’s where Darth Vader came in. The Emperor needed a powerful Jedi hunter to locate the renegade Jedi and destroy them, eliminating any possible threat to his regime. The Great Jedi Purge, in my opinion, is one of the best story arcs in the Star Wars saga, and it’s one that has to be shown more often. We’ve seen Vader’s part in the purge as Anakin, but not nearly enough as the actual Darth Vader.
If you don’t read the books, turn to the video games, like The Force Unleashed and Fallen Order. Vader was shown to personally deal with Galen Marek’s father, even taking him as his apprentice afterwards. He didn’t appear in Fallen Order until the end, but his influence was clearly there. During the time of the Empire, he personally trained several lightsaber-wielding warriors called Imperial Inquisitors. These dark pupils hunted Jedi when Vader couldn’t and they were good at it. If they failed, well, we know how Vader deals with underlings when they fail him.
This is what a Darth Vader movie can be like. He doesn’t have to just walk around breathing and looking scary; he can discover some troubled Jedi and train them to become Inquisitors. Just watching him hunt Jedi would be fun enough to watch, but watching him actually take on an apprentice would be interesting. That kind of plot can lead Vader in many directions that can expand on his character. Will he treat his Inquisitors like he treated Starkiller? Maybe he’ll actually take a liking to them and attempt to overthrow the Emperor, which is something he always secretly wanted to do. If a Darth Vader movie has a plot like this, chances are we’d get a great solo Vader movie.
And if they want to avoid the mistakes of the Solo film, they just need James Earl Jones back. Seriously, his voice is what makes the character so frightening. Take that away and you’re killing half of what makes the character iconic. This movie can happen, but like a good meal, it needs the right ingredients. I’m hoping cooler heads will prevail.