Obi-Wan Kenobi Series Reveals First Look At Darth Vader's Grand Return

Hide your younglings and your Tusken Raiders, because Anakin Skywalker is returning to "Star Wars!"

Yesterday brought the first images of Ewan McGregor's return as Master Kenobi in the unimaginatively titled "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Disney+ series, and the first trailer for the show introduced the Grand Inquisitor and Third Sister as villains. Still, there was one big cyborg shadow looming large over the reveals of the day, because you simply cannot have Obi-Wan without his former best friend who is now a killing machine — Darth Vader himself. 

Thankfully, Entertainment Weekly has listened to our prayers, because they have the very first look at the highly anticipated return of Hayden Christensen as the Dark Lord of the Sith.

I find your lack of faith disturbing

One of the most exciting announcements tied to "Obi-Wan Kenobi," besides the prospect of new John Williams music, is Christensen's return as Anakin. Say what you will about his performance or the writing of the prequels, but it's just nice to see him return to the role with enthusiasm after years of criticisms. Additionally, it makes perfect sense for Vader to appear on the show, even if he likely won't have much direct interactions with his former master — at least according to the original "Star Wars."

By having the Inquisitorius as the villains of "Obi-Wan Kenobi," the series is clearly making the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith a pivotal part of the story. It makes sense, then, that Obi-Wan's biggest failure will be around bossing the Inquisitors and killing Jedi.

Of course, given that Vader is covered in armor the entire time, is it really necessary to have Christensen under the armor? Will we even see his actual, burnt face? "I wish I could tell you," Christensen jokingly told EW. "I'm sworn to secrecy." There is one thing the actor does say, however, promising that "we're going to see a very powerful Vader."

Still, ever since the Inquisitorius were introduced in "Star Wars Rebels," they are shown to be the ground troops of the Sith, with Vader rarely getting involved in the small stuff. So if he is not out hunting Jedi, how much will we actually see of the Dark Lord in "Obi-Wan Kenobi?" According to series writer Joby Harold, "his shadow is cast across so much of what we do," he told EW. "And the degree of his proximity to that shadow is something that we'll discover. But he is very much a part of the show emotionally for Obi-Wan, and possibly beyond that as well."

What about the voice?

The question remains, how about the voice? If Christensen will be behind the mask in "Obi-Wan Kenobi," will we hear his voice, or James Earl Jones'? Because the last time Jones returned to voice the character in a live-action movie in the excellent "Rogue One," it sounded terrible. Nothing against the actor, he is a national treasure! But people age, and their voices cannot be expected to stay the same for decades.

So, if not James Earl Jones, what then? The last thing we need is for Disney to pull another Luke Skywalker and use an AI machine to replicate the voice of Jones via an algorithm devoid of all personality and soul. The solution could be to recast, but no one wants to follow such an iconic performance.

I suggest a different approach — just use Hayden Christensen! If having Vader in "Obi-Wan Kenobi" is meant to be a source of torment and emotional conflict for the titular former Jedi Master, what better than hearing the voice of his best friend, but all messed up from the lava and the mechanical parts? 

This is what "Star Wars Rebels" did in what is arguably its best scene, as Ahsoka faces Vader in a lightsaber duel, and slashes off part of his armor. In that moment, Vader speaks out to Ahsoka, not in his Sith Lord voice, but as Anakin Skywalker (with a robotic filter on). It is a very effective, emotional and even terrifying moment, a reminder of the man audiences spent years with, and the monster he's become. If "Obi-Wan Kenobi" wants us to feel bad for Anakin and his turn to the Dark Side, showing us more of Anakin than Vader is the way to go.

"Obi-Wan Kenobi" premieres on Disney+ on May 25, 2022.