The Star Wars franchise is currently in the midst of easily its most prolific few years to date, but for all the sequels and prequels that have been sent our way recently, the Original Trilogy remains the unquestionable heart of the series, to which all subsequent works are compared and connected. It’s therefore only appropriate that 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has quite a few callbacks to those first three films, and some are apparently more obvious than others.
Take this latest observation that comes courtesy of YouTuber Mike Zeroh, who notices a visual parallel between Gareth Edwards’ standalone film and an early sequence from 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Zeroh’s video concerns Orson Krennic’s visit to Darth Vader’s castle on Mustafar about halfway through Rogue One. Though Vader himself only makes a few fleeting appearances in the film, he certainly leaves an impression with his characteristically grand entrance in this scene, striking an intimidating figure as he appears from behind a slowly rising, giant metal door.
It’s an effectively ominous moment, but perhaps a somewhat familiar one, too, with Mike Zeroh observing striking similarities with a cloaked Luke Skywalker’s arrival at Jabba’s palace. In this scene from Return of the Jedi, Vader’s son also makes his entrance via a big, slowly rising metal door, the bright light behind him reducing the character to a dark and mysterious silhouette, just as it does with Vader in Rogue One.
Interestingly, one further similarity with these two scenes is that they both feature the arriving character Force-choking some people. In Luke’s case, this moment has always seemed like an unusually aggressive use of his abilities, perhaps foreshadowing his inner struggle with the dark side that would follow in the film’s climax. In that sense, it could be said that Vader’s scene makes the similarities between father and son all the more apparent.
While none of this is exactly smoking gun evidence that the team behind Rogue One: A Star Wars Story wanted to pay tribute to this particular moment in Return of the Jedi, it certainly wouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that these parallels were intentional, especially given all the other allusions and Easter eggs that are (and aren’t) in the movie. On that note, we’ll see if Star Wars: Episode IX honors its forebears or simply lets the past die, killing it if it has to, when the film hits theaters on December 20th, 2019.