Darth Vader Deserves a 'Star Wars' Spinoff (But Not Everyone Agrees)

Two Heat Vision writers debate the pros and cons of a Vader spinoff (and why Ahsoka Tano might be better).
Courtesy of Photofest

Every week, Heat Vision's Aaron Couch and Graeme McMillan are viciously arguing over having a friendly debate about a hot topic in the world of geekdom — and inviting you to join.

This week, we polled readers on what the next Star Wars stand-alone movie should be about and the overwhelming winner was Obi-Wan Kenobi, with nearly a third of the votes going to him. (This fan trailer surely helped drum up interest.) As for us, we'll be arguing for our own picks: Darth Vader (Couch) and Ahsoka Tano (McMillan).

Aaron Couch, arguing for Darth Vader: Vader is one of the greatest film villains of all time — and there's a rare opportunity to enrich his backstory without recasting. James Earl Jones can provide the voice and even Ian McDiarmid could return as Emperor Palpatine. And while we're at it, why not let Hayden Christensen wear the suit and give him the chance he deserves to be in a Star Wars movie acclaimed by the fans? He lobbied to wear the suit in Revenge of the Sith so he has an affinity for it. 

Graeme McMillan, arguing for Ahsoka Tano: Because… it'd be a weird role for him? Why would Hayden Christensen take a role where he doesn't get to be seen or heard for the entire movie with the possible exception of some flashbacks? But more importantly, while I don't disagree that Vader is great, we've already seen Vader/Anakin in movies. A lot. With Rogue One, he'll be in seven of the eight Star Wars movies. The entire point of the spinoffs should be doing something different with the series that the main series doesn't do, and the main series is literally all about Darth Vader. Instead, I want to see a movie about the hole in the Star Wars mythology to date, especially on film — the creation of the Rebellion. The prequels are all about the creation of the Empire, but between episodes III and IV, the Rebellion just seems to … appear. Even with Rogue One, it's underway. It's time for the movies to look at the amazing gift that the animation team has given the franchise, and do something with Ahsoka Tano. 

She's an ideal lead for a spinoff right now: It would give the movie a female lead, like The Force Awakens and Rogue One, and also a character who has more than enough internal conflict and connection with the Force to fuel multiple movies — thanks to the events of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, she's a Jedi Padawan trained by Anakin Skywalker who was betrayed by the Jedi Order and walked away, and the current Star Wars: Rebels animated series establishes that she went on to help form the Rebel Alliance. I mean … there's definitely a story there waiting to be told. So tell it in a movie!

But OK: You want to make a Darth Vader movie. What do you want to do with it?

Couch: For a model, look no further than the excellent Marvel Comics series Vader from writer Kieron Gillen. It tells the story of the Sith lord between the events of Episode IV and Episode V. He's a villain, but you root for him because there are worse people out there in the galaxy. The Emperor is training new potential apprentices to replace Vader, who meanwhile learns he has a son and begins his own plot to rule the galaxy with Luke and overthrow the Emperor. And speaking of female leads, the series features Aphra — a tech genius who helps Vader hold his own among the bounty hunters and other dangerous riffraff of of the galaxy. The other Star Wars films have given us female good guys — why not give us a female bad guy? (OK, sure there's Captain Phasma … but she really hasn't done much yet.)   

McMillan: As a big fan of the Gillen/Salvador Larocca series, I won't complain about using that as a model, but at the same time … that comic exists. Why not use the movie to tell a story that hasn't already been told? Then again, there is an Ahsoka novel coming out soon, so maybe I'm arguing against my own self-interest here. But it doesn't really deal with the building of the Rebel Alliance, which is the part I want to see in a movie. Canonically, it's Bail Organa — Princess Leia's adoptive father and Jimmy Goddamn Smits — who founds the movement alongside Ahsoka. There's so much potential for a great movie there. Just imagine!

Couch: The Vader movie will tell a story that doesn't exist (onscreen at least) — all the weird, shady stuff Vader was up to when we didn't see him onscreen. Gillen has described his work as taking inspiration from The Godfather — and who wouldn't want to see Star Wars meets The Godfather?

For fans worried this would be yet another "step back" — a la the prequels or even Rogue One — the key will be in the way the story is told. There's enough strange stuff and cool new characters to make it feel fresh. Among them: 0-0-0, a droid who looks like C-3P0 but is a sociopath. Then BT-1, who is a little like R2-D2 — except he enjoys killing people with his massive arsenal of weapons.  I don't know many people who would be more excited about Bail Organa than the vicious cast of characters that will populate the Vader movie.

McMillan: OK, the idea of putting those guys in the movies almost convinces me … especially if they got Anthony Daniels to voice 0-0-0. But I'm sticking by my guns here: We've seen Darth Vader be Darth Vader before, and even though the comic puts him in situations he hasn't dealt with in the movies, the comic is great in and of itself. Let's use the movies to do something else — like fill in the gap that's been there for decades now and show everyone how the good guys got organized. 

Couch: Graeme, remind me not to argue about Star Wars with you anymore. You are too good.

As promised, we're giving a special shout-out to the best pitch we received on Heat Vision's Facebook page. Reader Jay Marzano would like to see a take on Galen Marek.

"A young Marek's father was killed in battle by Darth Vader. Vader then abducted Marek in order to train the orphan in the ways of the Sith Order," wrote Marzano. "The physical and psychological trauma of Vader's unforgiving training produce a Sith assassin under the code name 'Starkiller' and a living weapon to be deployed against the enemies of Darth Vader. [We'd follow] his betrayal by Vader, his formation of the Rebel Alliance, and his confrontation [with], and ultimate death [at the hands of the] emperor."

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