When it comes to the awesomeness that was Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it really comes down to the bookends of his appearance. While most folks have spent the last few weeks gushing about the end of his participation in Rogue One's climax, there are also fans who were mesmerized by his first seconds onscreen as well.
If you'll recall, the first time we lay eyes on Vader in Rogue One he's in a sort of vulnerable state that we don't usually think of when imagining the iconic figure in our minds. He's shown as a floating, burned up amputee inside of a Bacta Tank. It was an interesting choice to present the character this way, and in a recent chat with Empire, director Gareth Edwards revealed how that came to be.
"I'm jealous of moments like in Empire Strikes Back where you see the back of [Vader’s] head and you just go, 'Oh my God, that is so cool!' and wanted to try and find something like that in our film," Edwards revealed. He went on to say that he was inspired by the work of Chris Cunningham, who directed Bjork's music video "All is Full Of Love" and the "idea of being in milk."
Edwards liked the vulnerability of that visual concept.
"He’s really a burns victim, and it’s not going to be fun for him when he’s not in the suit – he’s going to be uncomfortable. I love the idea of showing that he’s vulnerable as well," Edwards said of that juxtaposition. "Vader’s very, very bad, and so you try and just glimpse something of him that gives him some humanity, or it makes you empathize with him. Just seeing those scars and realizing that he’s, you know, an amputee, and just reminding you of that before he does all his stuff, it makes you torn, I think. He’s just such a rich character, in so many ways."
My own additional view on that brief sequence from Rogue One is that it serves as extra connective tissue between Star Wars: Revenge of The Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope. In Revenge of The Sith, we were given our first full-on glimpse of what Anakin Skywalker looks like outside of the suit. In A New Hope, we see him in all of his Darth Vader glory. In Rogue One, which takes place between the two, we get a reminder that the badass Vader we remember from Episode IV is still the mutilated Sith we saw at the end of Episode III.
It's a visual bridge between what George Lucas showed us in 2005 and in 1977.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is still in theaters everywhere.