– by Joseph Jammer Medina

One of the things that left a big impression on me when I caught Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last week was the fact that we finally got a great look at theplace Darth Vader calls home. I recall talking to my friends after the screening about the fact that Gareth Edwards was given the uniquely incredible responsibility of showing the world what Vader’s lair looked like, some 40 years after the world first fell in love with the character. Pretty neat stuff. 

So I’ve been digging around trying to find out everything I can about the impressive, monolithic structure that we saw on the lava planet Mustafar, and wanted to share with you what I’ve discovered about Darth Vader’s castle in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

For starters, let’s just tackle why Vader lives on the desolate, fiery planet of Mustafar to begin with, aside from it being badass:

  • It is, indeed, where Anakin had the fateful battle with Obi-Wan at the end of Revenge of The Sith. The battle that left him nearly dead from the wounds that necessitated his physical transformation.
  • The Emperor placed Vader there, in order to keep him in a state of perpetual anger and hate, so that he’d be forever surrounded by the constant reminder of the Jedi Council and Obi-Wan’s betrayal. 

So Mustafar was where he lost the last of his humanity, and it’s now where The Emperor has placed him so that he and his rage can live together in solitude. Pretty heavy stuff, Doc. 

Now, about the impressive structure itself. You may be surprised how closely the designers from Rogue One stuck to the materials created during the Original Trilogy:

  • The fortress, known as Bast Castle, was actually based on the original designs of Ralph McQuarrie. Back during the Empire Strikes Back days, George Lucas asked McQuarrie to design Vader’s lair for the film, before ultimately deciding not to use it. The designers on Rogue One took McQuarrie’s original design, and used it as the base for what they’d show us in the film.
  • The castle is built over a natural cave that goes deep into the lava planet; A Sith cave.
  • The Emperor designed it himself.

Here’s how the castle is described in the book, “Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide“:

“Dark Monolith: Vader’s personal abode is an obsidian tower on an inhospitable world. It is the Emperor’s design that Vader lives in such an unforgiving environment. Vader’s attendant, Vanee, visits Vader as he meditates within a rejuvenation chamber. The stark, modern structure is built over an ancient castle full of dark secrets.”

An interesting tidbit that came up for me as I dug around trying to learn everything I could, was that idea about how The Emperor would always seek to recharge Vader’s hate. It’s almost as if he could tell that Vader had a pull toward the light within his heart, and so the manipulative Emperor would keep him on a tight leash in between missions, forcing him to go to where he’d feel the angriest. 

It’s why we saw a “fully charged” Vader at the end of Rogue One, since he had just come from the epicenter of his rage on Mustafar; Yet, later on, while confronting Obi-Wan with the knowledge that Luke was nearby and having met Leia earlier on, he wasn’t nearly as passionate in the battle that would take Obi-Wan’s life. Then, according to Darth Vader comic books that are canon, after perceiving that Vader was going soft following the destruction of the first Death Star in A New Hope, Emperor Palpatine dispatched him to Tattooine for a recharge. He knew that a visit to Tattooine would re-fuel Vader’s hatred by reminding him of his dead mother and that he was once a slave.

And yet, that may have backfired, wouldn’t you say? Because after that unseen visit to Tattooine, he decided to reveal to Luke that he was his father in Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps the visit home didn’t remind him of his hate, but rather it kindled a desire to be closer to his son who had grown up there as well?

I find all of this backstory for the iconic character fairly fascinating, and am going to keep researching.

For now, we still all have the fantastic imagery from Rogue One to chew on and digest. 

What did you think of Darth Vader’s castle in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Did it excite you as much as it excited me?

SOURCE: Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.