Just when you thought Rian Johnson didn’t have any weirder ideas for The Last Jedi. For those of you who actually wanted to see Hayden Christensen return as Anakin Skywalker, guess what? Rian Johnson was considering adding him to the film at one point. He recently confirmed this via Twitter and even named the specific scene he had in mind for him. Remember when Luke burnt down the Jedi temple and force ghost Yoda showed up to offer him guidance? Well, Johnson originally planned for Anakin to be that force ghost and have his first interaction with his son.
Well, unless you want to count his final moments, but I’m talking about Hayden Christensen having a father/son moment with Mark Hamill. I remember saying that in my head when I first read his tweet and thought it was dumb. Now that I actually typed that, it sounds even dumber. Anakin Skywalker should not have been in The Last Jedi and it’s very good that he wasn’t. Go after Johnson all you want. He made a lot of controversial decisions for that movie, but having force ghost Yoda instead of force ghost Anakin talk to Luke was a good call.
Now I get why he would’ve originally considered the idea. For one, Anakin is Luke’s father. He is a far less interesting character than Luke, but that’s not Rian Johnson’s fault. If he did appear, I’m assuming he wouldn’t of had a conversation with his son about how much he hated sand. I’m guessing Johnson originally imagined it as Anakin giving fatherly advice to Luke. It would’ve been interesting, considering he’s never actually done that before. Luke was the one who had to save him from the dark side and then Anakin saved him from Palpatine and then thanked him with his dying breath. No matter how you look at it, Anakin just was never a good father figure to his son. I mean, he did cut off his right arm.
Rian Johnson eventually thought the same way, as he explained in his tweet. He told his fan that Luke’s mentor was found in Yoda, hence the reason his force ghost appeared. Yes, Anakin his father, but he was never a mentor to Luke. Yoda, on the other hand, was Luke’s master, his mentor, and the one who tested his limits. Yoda was the right person to appear as a force ghost and offer him his (backwards) words of wisdom. Call Yoda small all you want, but he know how to restore confidence. I don’t feel that Anakin would’ve had that same affect just because he was Luke’s father.
Okay, now I want to break down the real issue here. George Lucas revamped the original movies by having Anakin Skywalker remain in the form of Hayden Christensen. Permanently. If you’ve seen his “updated” cut of Return of the Jedi, old man Anakin is not an old man anymore. He’s, well… Hayden Christensen. I have mixed feelings about this change. Lucas’ reason for making the change is because according to him, Hayden Christensen is how we last saw Anakin Skywalker. The thing is, we technically last saw Anakin when Luke pulled off the Darth Vader helmet and mask and we saw his scarred, burnt face. By that logic, force ghost Anakin should’ve appeared as the scarred man we saw thanking Luke in his dying breath. I mean, that is technically the last time we saw Anakin as actual Anakin, right?
I guess Lucas figured that would’ve looked weird, so I get it. Canonically, Anakin Skywalker remains as Hayden Christensen. That’s fine by me, as long as he doesn’t talk about how much he hates sand. Where am I going all of this? Well, here’s the problem. Imagine if Rian Johnson actually decided to go with that original plan. Luke Skywalker would’ve been talking to Anakin Skywalker. In other words, Mark Hamill would’ve been talking to Hayden Christensen. That would’ve been very, very weird. Why? Because Hayden Christensen would’ve been playing Mark Hamill’s father.
Does anyone else think that would’ve been weird to see on screen? Mark Hamill has thirty years on Hayden Christensen, and yet he would’ve been his son on-screen. Granted, his father was a force ghost, but he’s a force ghost in the form of a man in his thirties. Now I don’t care good of dialogue Johnson could have written to make that scene work. The point is, it would’ve been too awkward to see a younger father give advice to his (by normal standards) much older son. Not to mention that Luke is actually a much wiser Jedi than Anakin. Did being a force ghost give Anakin more wisdom? It’s possible, but he’ll never be as wise as Yoda or other more experienced Jedi.
I give Rian Johnson credit for not going through with that idea. If only he made better decisions with other things. Since we’re talking about Luke, I can’t believe he actually died that way. Sorry, Mr. Johnson, you’re a talented guy, but I can’t get over how you killed one of the greatest movie heroes of all time. He deserved better and Mark Hamill knows it.
Now if we’re talking about Hayden Christensen, there is a chance he can earn some redemption. If he’s going to appear again, it should be in the upcoming Obi-Wan series on Disney+. There are rumors about it, and I’m actually all for it. If his Anakin does come back, the obvious way to use him would be through flashback. I mean, that sounds like the only way, but it can work. The biggest advantage Hayden Christensen would have is that George Lucas won’t be the one writing the script.
Personally, I never thought his performance was as bad as many people said it was. In his defense, he was doing his job by reading the script and acting out the lines Lucas had written for him. Now could he have spoken up? I mean, Harrison Ford (along with Mark Hamill) did and even convinced Lucas to take out a particularly bad line, but then again, he’s Harrison Ford. Hayden Christensen wasn’t too well-known when Lucas casted him, so he probably didn’t feel comfortable telling Lucas his lines were too cringeworthy to read. Can’t blame him there, but the man was in a bad spot. Second chances are rare, so if he gets that chance to play Anakin again, I’m confident he can do a better job.