One of the most anticipated Star Wars projects in a long time is just around the corner: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sure, The Book of Boba Fett was exciting sometimes, but the discourse around Ewan McGregor's return is immense. For years, audiences have been wanting to see Ewan McGregor return to his iconic role, and all it took for these dreams to come true was a streaming service.
What should fans expect going into the six-episode story? Based on the first trailer, the former Jedi Knight will be busy watching over Luke Skywalker; that is until the Inquisitors arrive. Given their task of hunting down any remaining force users, they'll undoubtedly come into conflict with Kenobi.
But there's also another character that will be making their presence known in a big way: Darth Vader. Hayden Christensen will be returning to his original role as Anakin Skywalker, but this time he'll get to don the iconic costume.
It would be hard to have a show like Obi-Wan Kenobi exist without Vader showing up, given their close and tragic bond from previous films. When it comes to the iconic, heavy-breathing Sith, what can audiences expect?
Kenobi Director Talks Darth Vader's Return on Disney+
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow teased what fans can expect with Darth Vader's return in the upcoming Disney+ series.
The director revealed that she brought Vader back for the series because it was "quite hard to avoid" the character when plotting the story and how the team aimed to find an adversary "who means something" to the titular character:
"Honestly, for me the starting place was that I really wanted to do something that was character-based and character-driven, because that is the benefit of the limited series, is that you have more time to sort of tell a real character story. And so for me, the starting place of character is you just start and you look at who has been important to him in his life. And it’s quite hard to avoid Anakin/Vader in that scenario, especially coming out of Revenge of the Sith. So really it came out of an evolution of the character for me. It wasn’t just to sort of bring him back. It was really like, who means something and where are we at this point in the timeline with Vader?"
With the return of Anakin Skywalker's Sith persona comes the return of the actor behind him: Hayden Christensen. Chow mentioned how "he's absolutely wonderful," and because he has "live[d] for so long [with the character]," he was helpful on the creative side as well:
"He’s lovely. And he’s absolutely wonderful. And Canadian! So the first time I met him actually was in Toronto, and it was really nice because we sort of met up in Canada, and obviously both with people like Ewan and Hayden, they’ve been these characters for so long and they obviously did them in the prequels, and they’ve lived with this character in their lives for so long that they just know the character so well, which makes it so helpful in terms of the creative."
She continued to say how, when Vader first showed up on set, it "was a really interesting moment for [her]," especially how it showcased "different generations and how they connect to Star Wars:"
"Obviously Hayden was going to be part of this series, and when he first came on to set for us, it definitely had a very special feeling. And it was a really interesting moment for me because you really started to see the different generations and how they connect to Star Wars and the franchise, where you have a generation that grew up with the prequels first and with Hayden. It’s a totally different thing for them than a generation that grew up with the originals. And then there’s younger generations with the new ones. So it felt really special bringing him back. And obviously I’m Canadian and he’s Canadian, so that was also very heartwarming for me. We were having some Canadian pride on that day."
Chow noted how working with Christensen was "pretty... significant," especially since the character is "almost part of our consciousness:"
"…But I know that for Vader, it’s something that it’s almost part of our consciousness, because we’ve all had it in our lives for so long that to actually see him on set, it’s pretty sort of significant. It’s kind of moving."
As for what kind of Vader audiences will see in the upcoming Disney+ series, the director revealed that "he isn't the New Hope Vader quite yet:
"For us, it’s very similar [to Obi-Wan] in the sense that he’s in between these two trilogies. So he isn’t the New Hope Vader quite yet, you know what I mean? So we are with the character sort of in the middle of this period. It is still Vader obviously, but it’s a Vader that isn’t quite as fully formed as A New Hope."
Obi-Wan Kenobi Gets a Rematch
It's ironic that back when the prequel trilogy was released, and even for a bit afterward, Hayden Christensen's role and performance were far from praised. Now, his return is one of the most exciting events currently happening for the franchise.
There are certainly massive expectations for the moment Obi-Wan comes face-to-face with Anakin's Vader. Hopefully, that crushing weight hasn't flattened the creatives working on the series. At the least, based on previous rumors, fans can expect at least two different fights between the two legendary characters.
Fingers crossed that the writers have found a way to have Christensen's face seen without the Vader helmet. Otherwise, having the actor return may feel a little pointless.
Obi-Wan Kenobi isn't the only place where Christensen is set to make an appearance. It was previously reported that the actor would be reprising his role in an unconfirmed capacity for the upcoming Ahsoka series. Many people are excited about more Obi-Wan and Anakin scenes, but the first live-action scene of Ahsoka meeting her former Master could easily garner the same passionate response.
Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney+ on May 25.