WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Rogue One
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dealt more with new characters like Jyn Erso and Director Orson Krennic, but there was one familiar face that loomed large over the proceedings: Darth Vader. Given the spinoff’s place in the franchise timeline, it only made sense for the Sith Lord to be featured in some capacity during Rogue One, and director Gareth Edwards employed the villain sparingly, but effectively. Vader has two main scenes in the film: a conversation with Krennic, and one action sequence in a darkened hallway that has already gone down in Star Wars legend.
While Vader’s slaughtering of helpless Rebel soldiers excited many fans, his initial appearance in Rogue One also generated much discussion. Halfway through the film, Krennic visits what appears to be Vader’s personal lair (which has never been seen in the films before) to discuss the Death Star project and Krennic’s place in the Imperial hierarchy. After seeing the movie, several had questions about the location and what its purpose was. Now, new details about Vader’s castle have been revealed.
/Film provided a rundown of this Rogue One mystery, using a variety of sources including the Art of Rogue One book and tweets from Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo. As has been heavily theorized by fans, the castle is on the planet Mustafar, site of the fateful lightsaber duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode III. It was there Anakin was left dismembered and burned to within an inch of his life, and it is a “nod to the conflict within him” that Vader chose to have his personal chambers be on a world of unspeakable tragedy. One of the rooms in the castle contains a bacta tank, where Vader goes to meditate and “replenish his depleted body.” It’s a place where Vader feels most comfortable. As for why Mustafar was not identified with a title card (like many Rogue One planets were), that was a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers to keep Vader’s reveal a surprise.
Ever since the Rogue One teaser trailer was unveiled, fans knew that Vader does not stay in this facility alone. There is at least one attendant who sees to his Dark Lord’s needs. The hooded figure who kneels in front of the bacta tank goes by the name of Vanee (who is not Snoke, so kill those theories now). Not much is known about him, but the character could perhaps be fleshed out in the canon further down the road. The Art of Rogue One suggests that the Mustafar castle could appear in future Star Wars media, be it a novel, comic, or another film. Since the Star Wars galaxy is expanding more than ever with new content, the story group meticulously plans everything and keeps the big picture in mind.
Regardless of whether or not we see the lair again, there’s no denying that it was a fascinating addition to Rogue One that added more layers to Darth Vader. Audiences have seen him in positions of vulnerability before (when his helmet is lowered in Empire Strikes Back), but the bacta tank image was a whole new representation of that. It served as a cruel reminder of the man Vader once was and what he must go through to retain a semblance of a “normal” existence. It’s also interesting to see Vader completely removed from his signature suit for the first time on film, showing that he wasn’t permanently restrained inside it and looked for other methods to deal with his condition. Hopefully, Lucasfilm has plans to explore this location more, since it was certainly intriguing for many.