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Why Disney Won't Give Darth Vader His Own Movie

Darth Vader has stood the test of time as one of the greatest villains in movie history. In fact, the American Film Institute ranked Vader at No. 3 on its list of the greatest movie villains of all time. The character is routinely parodied in movies and even children's cartoons. Yet for all the Star Wars baddie's infamy, there doesn't seem to be any desire whatsoever to give him his own movie. We've got a film about stealing the Death Star plans and a young Han Solo in the works. There's even talk of a Boba Fett film, although we kind of hope it takes place before a certain Sarlacc pit scene.

Everyone else is getting movies, so why is there no love for the most famous dark lord of the Sith?

We already know his early history

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to a standalone Darth Vader movie is the fact that his history was already fleshed out in Episodes I, II, and III. We saw Anakin first as a child slave on the desert planet of Tatooine. We then saw his fear, anger, and paranoia lead him to make questionable, stupid, and outright terrible life decisions during his teenage and early adulthood years. We don't have to answer the question of "Who is Darth Vader?" because we already know.

As there isn't much of a mystery to Vader's origin story at this point, there might not be enough material available to justify a standalone movie built entirely around him.

James Earl Jones

As much as we love James Earl Jones as Darth Vader and even though he's still happy to lend his voice to the role, we have to face reality: he won't be around forever. And with no plans for a Darth Vader movie of any kind in the near future, there's the very real (however morbid) possibility that he could pass away before any such plans come to fruition. Getting someone to replace one of the most iconic voices in film history would be no easy task. It's entirely possible that out of respect for Jones (or in response to potential fan backlash), Disney might put the brakes on any plans to do so.

It's a tradition

Although the prequels were painful for Darth Vader fans, they have a decided advantage over the original films: we see a lot more of his character. Despite the memory of Vader looming large in Episodes IV-VI, the character wasn't in these movies too much. By some estimates, A New Hope featured a whopping 12 minutes of Darth Vader screen time. That's approximately 10 percent of the overall film.

If you look back at the original movies as they were rather than with a sense of nostalgia (or pointless George Lucas edits), you'll likely recall that Darth Vader doesn't have much screen time in any of those first three films. He's traditionally a "less is more" villain, where his presence is felt throughout the movie—even when he's not on screen. A full-on Darth Vader movie would go against the grain.

Anakin Skywalker ruined Darth Vader

There's just no getting around this one. Few things kill the mystique and awe associated with a legendary villain like seeing him as a love-stricken, whiny teenage brat. Of course, it makes sense that Vader started out as an ill-tempered youngster; Vader did have a habit of Force-choking people to death throughout the original movies. If portrayed by skilled actors with a solid script, his early history might have been looked on more favorably. Sadly, two actors (Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen) and a series of terrible scripts utterly failed the character.

Well, thanks to his burned-up body being forever locked away in a robotic suit, Darth Vader never had to worry about feeling sand ever again. But scenes like the above really helped to stall both the fear and mystery factor previously associated with Vader. As such, it becomes hard to take a look at the character's early days and still take aspects of him remotely seriously.

The rise of other Star Wars villains

The absence of Star Wars movies allowed for the creation of an extended universe via a series of books that kept the franchise going. Sure most of the book universe is the equivalent of fan fiction in the wake of the new movies, but we can all breath a sigh of relief at the survival of Grand Admiral Thrawn. If you don't know, this villain was introduced in Dave Filoni's Heir to the Empire.

To make a long story short, Thrawn's absence from the events of the original Star Wars films was explained by way of his being off securing the outer regions of the galaxy. With both Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine gone, it was up to Thrawn to jump-start the Empire. The character joined the official Star Wars universe via Star Wars: Rebels, and it's huge for the Star Wars movie franchise. His addition means that we just might see Thrawn in future Star Wars films. We may even get a movie for Thrawn's backstory. On top of that, we also learned that Darth Maul survived getting chopped in half near the end of Episode I.

And how about Supreme Master Snoke or Captain Phasma from the third Star Wars trilogy? Add 'em all up, and it's clear there are Force- and non-Force-using villains who are very popular that probably deserve their own films just as much—if not more so—than Darth Vader.

Other Star Wars prequels

Remember all those other Star Wars projects we mentioned? Well, they're set early enough for Darth Vader to be an active villain, allowing for plenty of name-dropping or outright cameos. He made a memorable appearance during Star Wars: Rogue One, and it's possible Vader could also show up in at least one other standalone Star Wars prequel. Between those appearances and Episodes I-VIII (if we count Vader's charred mask in Force Awakens as a cameo), pretty much all of Vader's personal history and activities would be well-covered. So much so that it just doesn't leave enough justification for a standalone adventure.

Unfortunately for Darth Vader fans, it seems the villain will continue to be used as a plot device to drive forward every story but his own.

Could a future reboot change things?

Let's face it: Hollywood is a reboot-happy place. The odds favor currently popular franchises being remade within a decade or two. As for the Star Wars prequels, we shouldn't rule out the possibility of a complete overhaul. No poorly acted, petulant Anakin Skywalker, no Jar Jar Binks, and no midi-chlorians. Nope, none of it ever happened. Wiping the slate clean while keeping the original movies intact could actually be a good thing for Vader, breathing new life into a genuine desire to better understand the character. Such interest could be what finally leads to a standalone movie for the Star Wars villain.