The appearance of familiar and iconic characters was one of the reasons Star Wars: The Force Awakens was so appealing to audiences spanning generations. It was fun and sentimental to see Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and C-3PO more than 30 years later.

However, the Star Wars saga’s most famous villain wasn’t a part of the band getting back together. Darth Vader was in The Force Awakens in spirit, a looming presence influencing the new movie’s bad guy, Kylo Ren. But the Dark Lord of the Sith was not physically in the movie. That would have been difficult since Vader is, you know, — SPOILER ALERT — dead.

Yet with Disney and Lucasfilm adding anthology films to the Star Wars onslaught — sharing previously untold stories from the mythology’s past, present, future, and whatever other sideways dimensions of time allow for cranking out another movie — no one is truly dead. (Darth Vader always lived on in our hearts anyway. Our dark, villainous hearts.) That will certainly apply to the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One, set for release on Dec. 16.

Taking place before Episode IV: A New Hope, Rogue One follows a band of Rebel fighters looking to retrieve stolen plans for the original Death Star. Also in pursuit of those plans are a group of bounty hunters, which will likely include the inexplicably popular Boba Fett. But the Empire is understandably displeased with the Death Star plans being stolen. That means some of the big power players are getting involved, which is how Darth Vader factors into the story.

According to JoBlo, Vader will definitely have a role in Rogue One, though it’s not clear how large his involvement with the story will be. Vader’s presence in the film has been rumored for months, but it wasn’t clear if the character would make a cameo appearance (for instance, on a hologram or viewscreen). However, JoBlo’s source says Vader will have a more important role than originally believed. Maybe the galaxy’s baddest motorscooter will just have to get those Death Star plans himself. Hopefully, he has to Force-choke a few subordinates along the way.

As mentioned, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters on Dec. 16. The film will star Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk and Forest Whitaker. Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) will direct, with the script written by Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta.


About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.