The Star Wars franchise has created some of the most iconic characters to be featured in any property. Even casual fans know the likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca. And who can forget Darth Vader, with his iconic all-black costume design, robotic voice, red lightsaber and world’s most quoted – or rather, misquoted – line, “No [Luke], I am your father.”
Vader is predominantly the villain of the Original Trilogy, but he does get his redeeming moment in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. And according to some unused concept art, a redeemed ‘good’ Vader almost came to be part of the lore, and he would’ve been far more powerful.
The concept for this version of Vader comes from a development art board of the video game Star Wars Battlefront 4. The project was reportedly in the works before Disney purchased the franchise, so it never ended up being released. But the concept of Anakin finding his way back to the Light Side of the Force is an intriguing one.
The first concept version would have existed right after the legendary Battle of Mustafar, when Ob-Wan Kenobi duels Anakin and manages to win by virtue of having “the high ground.” Since this story never saw the light of day, we don’t quite know what leads to this altered version of Vader, but it would have meant that Darth Sidious never gets a hold of his most famous and powerful apprentice.
Being the nefarious schemer that he is, by putting Anakin’s body in the suit, Sidious actually impedes the full extent of Vader’s powers to keep him obedient and unable to turn on his master. The suit was designed to be crude and torturous, continually inflicting pain upon Anakin to keep him hateful and drawing on the Dark Side. Unlike the cowl from the concept art, which assists in his recovery.
The second version portrays a Vader that would have existed after the end of Return of the Jedi. An incredibly powerful version of the character who would have been brought back to the Light Side by his son, Luke Skywalker. And while we never got to see this Jedi Master version of Vader, it’s an interesting peek at the conceptual iterations that were being discussed.
Just imagine a version of Star Wars where Anakin is good again and has a daughter instead of a son. But short of that ever happening, at least we might get to learn more about Darth Sidious’ past in the potential Palpatine prequel that Disney’s considering making.