Disney CEO Bob Iger sent fans into a frenzy with his declaration that The Last Jedi will be focussing on the most famous, and dysfunctional, family in the galaxy.
That doesn’t just mean Luke and Leia, it also means Leia’s son Ben (aka Kylo Ren) and the family patriarch Anakin.
It’s time for Anakin to return to help heal his family, and that means the much-maligned Hayden Christensen has one final chance to convince Star Wars fans that he is worthy of the role.
It’s time for the smirking ghost of Star Wars’ past to help bring Ben back to the Light.
Not everyone realises that Hayden is now the official ‘canon’ version of Anakin’s Force ghost. Poor old Sebastian Shaw was historically always seen at the end of The Return of the Jedi, standing with Obi-Wan, and has always been regarded as the smiley face of the man who became Darth Vader.
However, the 2006 reissue of the film replaced him with Hayden’s rather younger face. The logic of this is best not pondered too deeply, let alone the unfair fact that Obi-wan and Yoda are condemned to spend eternity as ancient ghosts while Anakin gets to prance around as his younger, fitter self. After all, Alec Guinness wasn’t replaced by Ewan McGregor.
What this controversial and selective alteration does do, however, is open up the door for Hayden to return in The Last Jedi and Episode IX.
With the loss of his father, Han Solo and the removal of his mother, Leia, precipitated by Carrie Fisher’s shock death, Kylo Ren is in dire need of some family guidance. Especially since there are new signs that Kylo is The Last Jedi, not Luke or Rey.
He’s already been seen praying to the mask of his grandfather in his guise as Darth Vader, begging him to show him the way to the Dark Side.
The audience knows one thing that Anakin doesn’t, however.
We already know that if Darth answers it will be as ‘good’ Anakin.
He reverted to his original identity with his final moments of redemption as he killed the Emperor and in the process died to save Luke.
The first two trilogies followed the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin and the signs are strong that the final three films will follow the same pattern with Kylo Ren and who better to help that the only man in the galaxy who has been through exactly the same thing?
If Anakin answers his grandson’s call but instead helps him find his way back to the Light, it follows that it must be Hayden who takes the role.
The franchise has a strong history of Force ghosts popping up at critical moments, whether as a wise voice or benign spirit. Furthermore, The Force Awakens already used the voices of Obi-Wan and Yoda during Rey’s flashback scene in Maz Kanata’s castle when she first held Luke’s lightsaber.
The time is ripe for Anakin to complete the redemption of his family and for poor Hayden to perhaps find his own redemption with the fans in the process?