Supporters of the Star Wars prequel trilogy have had a tremendous last couple of years.
After an early transitionary phase for the company that largely looked past the era, Lucasfilm brought a generation of fans' childhoods back to life in major ways.
It all started back in 2018 when a panel at San Diego Comic-Con dedicated to celebrating the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars came with a surprise announcement from director Dave Filoni that the beloved animated series would be returning for a final season. The prequel train picked up more steam when Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and actor Ewan McGregor announced that a series centered on Obi-Wan Kenobi would be coming to Disney+ at D-23.
The last year and a half have seen the gut-wrenching culmination to The Clone Wars, the first season of the show's direct follow-up, The Bad Batch, and live-action debuts in The Mandalorian Season 2 for Bo-Katan Kryze and fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano.
Tano, played by Rosario Dawson, will be returning to live-action in an event series titled Ahsoka, an adventure that's been said to serve as the successor to Star Wars: Rebels. But it wouldn't be a project focused on Ahsoka if her old master didn't have a role to play.
During last December's Disney Investor's Day event, it was announced that Hayden Christensen would be returning to the role of Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi, appearing for what Kennedy called the "rematch of the century" against his former teacher. Star Wars fans were elated by the news and even more thrilled to discover that Christensen would be back for another show as well.
A recent report shared that Christensen will be playing Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Ahsoka in an unknown capacity. Rosario Dawson, who has worked and maintains a friendship with Christensen, expressed her own excitement for the reveal in a quickly deleted Instagram post.
As George Lucas has said, Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker. With the legend himself once more involved in forthcoming projects, fan anticipation is at an all-time high to see how the character's journey progresses.
Ahsoka is set to put the titular character on a collision course with Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn, but her journey will be deeply personal as well. Filoni undoubtedly has many tricks up his sleeve, and there are several possibilities for how he may use Anakin as the story unfolds.
The Path Down Memory Lane
It's hard to imagine a scenario where Anakin Skywalker doesn't appear in live-action flashbacks in either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Ahsoka. Then again, it's hard to believe he didn't appear in any of the new Skywalker saga films either.
Snark and ribbing aside, flashbacks to The Clone Wars are almost a given at this point. From a storytelling standpoint, Filoni understands that not all fans tuning in to the live-action series have seen the animated shows. In much the same way that Ahsoka was referred to as a Jedi in The Mandalorian without refutation, flashbacks will serve as a way of conveying the significance Anakin has to Ahsoka to the general audience to avoid too much confusion.
On that note, the flashbacks will also serve as a means of showing where Ahsoka's head is at during the series. Anakin Skywalker was her closest friend in addition to her master; he was the only one who believed in her when Barriss Offee framed her for the Jedi Temple bombing, and he couldn't contain his excitement about seeing her for the first time since her departure from the Order right before the Siege of Mandalore.
Ahsoka makes a reference to Anakin's fall to the dark side during her appearance in The Mandalorian, and the sadness she expresses is something that will surely continue to nag at her during Ahsoka. She blames herself for leaving Anakin when he needed her most, and key moments from both The Clone Wars and her confrontation with Darth Vader in Rebels are strong candidates for sequences to appear in live-action throughout the series.
Seeing Ahsoka leave the Jedi Order, her final interaction with Anakin before Order 66, and the duel with Vader all in live-action would be spine-tingling and connect the animated series to the rest of the stories uniquely. With his return in Obi-Wan Kenobi, don't count out McGregor for a cameo as the witty Jedi General either.
Giving fans both casual and diehard the chance to see things from the past will be key in building up to the emotional journey that Ahsoka will undertake in the future as the story in the series progresses.
A Spiritual Guide
For those who have attended big panels at Star Wars Celebration or watched behind-the-scenes videos for the animated series, Filoni's appreciation of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series is well-known.
There have been many nods to Middle-earth in both Clone Wars and Rebels, but none have been more obvious than Ahsoka's appearance during the latter's series epilogue sequence - a look fans have dubbed "Ahsoka the White." Filoni discussed the inspiration for Ahsoka's journey, noting that in the time of The Mandalorian she has reached the Gandalf stage in her life as a wanderer with "knowledge of the world" that can be used to help others.
With this in mind, Anakin Skywalker can play a similar role in Ahsoka.
At this junction in his existence, Anakin is physically dead but spiritually more alive than ever. He's reached the point of enlightenment through his redemption and return to light, and as a Force Ghost, he has chosen to become one with the Cosmic Force.
Ahsoka will be embarking on a journey to find the lost Ezra Bridger, and if the story is at all Tolkien-esque, she'll need a guide. Through the Force, Anakin can provide his former pupil with more tutelage as she navigates unknown parts of the galaxy to locate Ezra and Thrawn - not necessarily as her master but as a teacher passing on what he's learned.
The logo for the series features a design that's undoubtedly intended to resemble the gateways seen in the World Between Worlds. This place between places first seen in Rebels is still a bit of an enigma to fans and will likely be explored in greater depth at some point in the series, as it should.
The World Between Worlds isn't just significant because of its use for saving Ahsoka in her fight with Vader. It was in this place that Ahsoka and Ezra last connected, and she was able to help teach the young Jedi the final lesson Kanan Jarrus was trying to convey through his sacrifice. Ahsoka also came to terms there with the fact that Anakin truly was gone and had become a monster.
Should Anakin serve as a guide for Ahsoka in the series, it's possible he could lead her back to the World Between Worlds to teach her a final lesson of her own. The portals may even be utilized to present the aforementioned flashback sequences, allowing Filoni to kill two porgs with one stone. Ahsoka has the chance to be the most spiritual tale in Star Wars to date, and Anakin Skywalker will be at the heart of that journey.
Ahsoka's life has been a constant influx of solving major problems, more or less.
After leaving the Jedi Order, she's shortly swept back into action to confront and capture Maul, which is successful until Order 66 is initiated and the Republic falls. She spends much of her time thereafter believing that Anakin Skywalker is dead and works with the Rebellion to bring down the Empire until running into a few rogue Jedi who set her on destiny's path once more.
On Malachor, Ahsoka is forced to accept that Anakin is gone but has suffered a fate worse than death by now operating as Darth Vader. No more than five minutes after she's seen her master's bare face and been yanked away from his killing strike, she's on the run from the Emperor in the World Between Worlds. From that point on, her journey is about reuniting with Ezra, but Anakin's fingerprints are all over her story.
Having endured so much pain, guilt, and regret, it's easy to imagine that Ahsoka will be more than a bit resentful toward her master when he appears to her once more as a ghost. His actions have put a great burden on her shoulders, and one shouldn't expect an immediate happy reunion with hugs.
Prepare for Snips to get snippy. Ahsoka was always one who had no issues speaking her mind, and Anakin will be getting an earful. This will all be part of Ahsoka's process of expressing her grief and letting go of the past.
Star Wars is about forgiveness. Unlike most, Ahsoka will have the opportunity to see a person she cares so deeply for once again, even as a ghost. Anakin's inclusion in the series will give Ahsoka the chance to come to terms with her own mistakes and forgive Anakin for his, which will lead her along the path of enlightenment that the Jedi follow.
After years of despair, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano will be friends once more.
Anakin Makes Amends
Ahsoka isn't the only one who needs to work on herself.
He might be dead, but Anakin Skywalker now lives on forever in the Cosmic Force as a ghost. Though he thought he was making the right choices out of love, Anakin's fall to the dark side was driven by selfish desperation. Many people died during Order 66, but the most tragic loss of all was Anakin Skywalker.
The Chosen One returned in his final moments of life, fulfilling his destiny (for three seconds) of bringing balance to the Force, and died a Jedi. Few knew that Anakin was Darth Vader, and of those who did, the only one to forgive him for the atrocities he committed was his son, Luke.
There haven't been any big canon stories that feature Anakin after Return of the Jedi, but it's a safe bet that he'll be spending his time as a ghost further working to atone for his sins in any way possible. Obi-Wan and Yoda have also likely forgiven him by this point in the timeline, and the novel Bloodline reveals that Leia still resents her biological father for his misdeeds, despite any potential discussions that may have transpired between the two of them.
The last person he was close to whom he needs to bury the hatchet with is his padawan, Ahsoka Tano.
Ironically, trying to kill her as Vader likely isn't the biggest issue either of the two have with one another. Anakin betrayed everyone he cared for, everything he stood for, and ultimately himself when he pledged his loyalty to the Sith. This should generate some extremely deep philosophical dialogue between him and Ahsoka as they work out their differences and dissect the errors in their ways and flaws of the fallen Jedi Order.
Anakin will have the chance to apologize to his friend for destroying the Jedi and Republic and being a beacon of terror for decades. "Anakin's Betrayal" can easily be heard at the thought of the fallen hero pleading his case to Ahsoka.
Making amends is part of the journey for Anakin Skywalker. At some point during Ahsoka, the student will accept the teacher's apology and offer her forgiveness. The book will be closed on that part of their relationship, to an extent, and he will always be there to provide guidance to Ahsoka when she reaches out to him.
Binding the Galaxy Together
At some point, Ahsoka Tano and Luke Skywalker have to meet.
There's incredible fan art that already depicts such an occurrence, though depending on her frame of mind, Ahsoka may not be as jovial about sharing Anakin's story as some artwork depicts. With Anakin's children alive and well, it seems inevitable that Ahsoka will cross paths with them.
Leia probably doesn't serve as much of a purpose in a story like Ahsoka, so her involvement likely won't be necessary for this particular series. However, as a Jedi working to restore the Order, Luke is a natural person to bring into Ahsoka's journey, even if just for a cameo appearance like in The Mandalorian.
It's entirely conceivable that Anakin could facilitate such a meeting, guiding both Ahsoka and Luke to someplace where a meeting is necessary. Presumably, Grogu and R2-D2 would be with Luke as well, both of whom Ahsoka is familiar with, and they could serve as more connective tissue for a discussion between Anakin, his son, and his padawan.
There's something else about a meeting between Ahsoka and Luke that would make such an event completely appropriate for Ahsoka, and it's tied to Rebels. The overarching story of Ahsoka is about the search for Ezra, and she was able to reach him in the World Between Worlds as he struggled to let go of Kanan by telling him "you can't save your master, and I can't save mine."
While true, there was someone who could save Anakin: Luke.
Meeting the young man whose faith and optimism were responsible for bringing her mentor back to the light is a monumental opportunity to allow Ahsoka to thank Luke and be reminded of the beacon of hope that the Jedi are meant to be a symbol of. This could be part of what compels Ahsoka to forgive Anakin herself, though the two were so close that she probably won't need too much convincing from others.
Ezra will be found at some point in the series, and it can be assumed that he'll play a big role in the ensuing narrative of the MandoVerse. Perhaps Anakin brings all of the living Jedi (and a part-timer) together to join forces as they assist Mando and the New Republic in combating the Imperial Remnant and whatever other significant threats wait among the stars.
It should also be noted that Luke and Anakin haven't shared a scene since the end of Return of the Jedi, and giving Hayden Christensen and Mark Hamill the chance to oddly portray the father and son dynamic on-screen together would be a treat. Anakin was a guiding voice for Luke for many years, and seeing their bond grow in live-action is something that Star Wars is missing.
Return of the Jedi
Hayden Christensen's time in the galaxy far, far away was once thought to be well over.
It turns out, the Jedi's return is just beginning. The role Christensen will play as Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi will be something special, giving fans the unexpected opportunity to see the stars of the prequel trilogy grace screens together once more in sequences that should enrich the history between two iconic characters.
Including Christensen as Anakin Skywalker once more in Ahsoka is a treat for the fans who have stood by the performer since the prequels debuted and will give him the chance to demonstrate his acting chops yet again to his naysayers, though the number has slimmed over the years.
When Anakin Skywalker appears in the old Jedi Master robes as a ghost, expect many adults to cry.
Ahsoka will begin production in early 2022.