Darth Vader's Castle In 'Rogue One': Your Questions Answered

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introduced a new piece to Darth Vader's legacy. While the first Star Wars anthology movie poses far fewer questions than Star Wars: The Force Awakens, most of the queries I've been getting about Rogue One surround Darth Vader's castle. We have some of the answers.

This location's origin is steeped in Star Wars lore, and we already know quite a bit about its new canon backstory (which may include some appearances in future Star Wars projects). Hit the jump to learn more about Darth Vader's new residence which is introduced on screen in Rogue One.


What Planet Is Darth Vader's Castle Located On?

The first question I've seen a lot of people asking is "where is this planet?" The answer to that question lies in Anakin Skywalker's tragic history. That's right; this is Mustafar, the volcanic planet we saw in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The scorching lava world was where Obi-Wan Kenobi had the infamous lightsaber duel with Anakin Skywalker, which resulted in the loss of his limbs and severe scarring all over his body. It was basically the place that Darth Vader was born.

In the Art of Book, original screenwriter Gary Whitta says "the fact that he has chosen to build his mausoleum here is a nod to the conflict in him — that he would go back to this place to reflect on what happened to the man he once was. At the same time, it's also terrifying, and when he emerges with all of his armor, he's Darth Vader."

mustafar in star wars rebels

What Is The New Star Wars Canon Backstory?

In Star Wars: Aftermath, Wedge Antilles mentioned, "After all, didn't Mustafar hold some importance to the Imperial leadership? Rumors said that's where Vader took some of the Jedi long ago. Torturing them for information before their execution." This Imperial installation on Mustafar is Vader's castle.

In Star Wars Rebels, it was revealed that the Galactic Empire took control of Mustafar after the Clone Wars and maintained secret facilities on the planet. In the "Fire Across The Galaxy" episode of Rebels, Grand Moff Tarkin takes Kanan to Mustafar to extract information from the Jedi. When asked about the planet, Hera says, "I've only heard that name once, from Kanan. He said Mustafar is where Jedi go to die." This has a brand new meaning now. The mission to rescue Kanan resulted in Grand Moff Tarkin's Imperial I-class Star Destroyer the Sovereign crashing into the lava fields below.

Pablo Hidalgo's book Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide provides some more details about Darth Vader's castle:

"Dark Monolith: Vader's personal abode is an obsidian tower on an inhospitable world. It is the Emperor's design that Vader lives in such an unforgiving environment. Vader's attendant, Vanee, visits Vader as he meditates within a rejuvenation chamber. The stark, modern structure is built over an ancient castle full of dark secrets."

The Art of Rogue One book reveals that the script described his castle as "a towering, monolithic obsidian fortress of stark, brutalist design." In the Book, production designer Doug Chiang says that while "we don't see it all right now, but the idea was that Vader's castle was built over a natural cave — a Sith cave deep down below, in the lava world."

Will Darth Vader's Castle Have A Role In Future Star Wars Projects?

After seeing the film, some fans have theorized that Vader's attendant becomes Snoke, the leader of Kylo Ren and the First Order as seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This seems unlikely at best.

But I have heard that we will see more of this location in the future of Star Wars stories. If that means the comic books, novels or Star Wars: Episode VIII, we don't know. It has been rumored that some aspect of this film is a set-up for something we will see in Rian Johnson's eighth installment of the Skywalker saga. After seeing the movie a second time, it seems as if Vader's castle would be the most likely.

Even the Art of Rogue One book hints that this location may be featured in future Star Wars projects:

Vader's Mustafar castle in Rogue One would be concepted, designed, and explored beyond even the narrative needs of Rogue One itself. "We were building worlds, so we always had to keep in mind the broad strokes and the big picture, in case they were needed for the story," said [Doug] Chiang.

The above concept art came from the Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens book. While it was assumed that it was an early concept for what became Maz's castle, it now seems as if they adopted it for Rogue One.

darth vader's castle ralph macquarie concept art

Was The Castle Inspired By Old Concept Art?

Yes, the castle was inspired by old concept art created by legend Ralph McQuarrie. George Lucas played around with the idea of Darth Vader having a villainous castle lair while developing Empire Strikes Back, but it was something that never made it into the movie itself.

vader bacta tank

Is That A Bacta Tank?

We first see Vader's attendant Vanee visiting Vader as he meditates within a rejuvenation chamber — this is a call back to when we first saw Luke Skywalker submerged in a Bacta Tank to recover from his wounds in Empire Strikes Back. The concept art above was posted by IO9.

Concept artist Christian Alzmann talks about the idea behind the Bacta tank in the Art of Rogue One Book that "this is where Vader stays, because it's the only place he feels comfortable."

"The idea is that he would have a massive cylindrical machine in the center of his room — and in the center of that machine is a one-person bacta tank that looks out through a window onto the lava fields of Mustafar. It's both a meditation and a healing chamber. There's a lava river underneath, bottom-lighting the room earily. These arms would come down to pull apart the chamber the way you might seperate a pill capsule, and the bacta would leak out on the hot grills to create steam — partially because steam is so atmospheric and awesome, and partially because you don't really want to see a naked Vader. But there would be hints and glimpses of his twisted body breaking through the steam. And then, at the end, you might barely read a silouette of the helmet as it comes down."

Original screenwriter Gary Whitta says the original idea was that Vader "would need to sometimes remove all of his armor to completely replenish his depleted body, but that his private place wasn't actually an Imperial location–but we pictured it as this really dreadful place with Albert Speer-like brutalist architecture."

Whitta also says the image of Vader in the take makes you realize that "he's this crippled, broken, tragic figure." Whitta says that when Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy saw the concept art for the bacta tank, she "really responded to the idea that Vader would choose for himself such a hellish kind of chamber."

Why Wasn't The Planet Named On Screen?

Most of the planets in Rogue One were given a text-on-screen name (something new to the Star Wars franchise), the lava planet where Darth Vader's castle resides was not.

When asked why they chose not to name the planet in the movie, Lucasfilm Story Group's Pablo Hidalgo has revealed that he believes it was "a filmmaker choice regarding the reveal of the location and its inhabitant."

And if you haven't yet, check out our previous Rogue One coverage:

  • Rogue One Reshoots: What the missing Rogue One trailer footage tells us about the original version of the film.
  • /Film Ranks The Star Wars Saga: Where does Rogue One rank in the franchise?
  • Rogue One Spoiler Free Review: Finally A Good Star Wars Prequel