(Image via comicbook.com)
Volunteer Writer: J Engels
The much-maligned Star Wars prequels were lambasted when they first came out in the late 90s/ early 2000s. Among the many complaints leveled against these movies, one of the most pervasive was that they were poorly acted, and those who starred in the film were subjected to some of the harshest criticism the internet could dredge up.
Despite this, many of the prequel cast members – namely, Natalie Portman, Ewan Mcgregor, and Samuel L. Jackson – came out relatively unscathed and even had flourishing careers afterward.
But the prequels’ central star, Hayden Christensen (the iconic Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader), was not so lucky. In an effort to avoid the relentless harassment, Christensen retreated from the public eye, and as a result, his career stagnated for years.
Though he acted occasionally, his new projects were few and far between. He mostly remained under the radar – that was, until the announcement of Kenobi, when it was revealed he would be returning as Vader.
At the time of the Kenobi release, well over a decade had passed since the prequels, and by then, the reception to Christensen’s character had greatly improved. The cranky curmudgeons who were once the most dominant and vocal members of the Star Wars fanbase were now meeting pushback from a younger generation of fans who grew up with the Star Wars prequels and found comfort in the performances they watched as children. These younger fans welcomed Christensen back with open arms and loyally defended him against the vitriol that once drove him to step away from acting.
Unfortunately, Kenobi was met with mixed reviews. While a general aura of excitement surrounded the return of popular characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and even a young Princess Leia, many felt the series suffered from a lack of direction and creative vision.
The conditions were not ideal for Christensen to have a genuinely triumphant comeback.
Flash forward a year to the premiere of episode five of Star Wars’ latest show, Ahsoka. In this episode, artfully directed by the acclaimed Dave Filoni, Christensen finally gets his long-awaited chance to shine.
Though the show follows the journey of Anakin’s now grown-up protege Ahsoka, the central character in the animated series The Clone Wars, it is Anakin Skywalker himself who steals the show.
Throughout the roughly twenty-minute-long sequence he is featured in, Christensen takes us on a tour of all his characters’ pivotal eras, from the much anticipated Clone Wars era, to the Revenge of the Sith era, to, finally, the Vader era. The panache with which he delivers complicated lightsaber choreography, coupled with the unflinching wit with which he delivers each line of dialogue, together make for a performance that is nothing short of electrifying to watch.
With this latest reprisal, Christensen has done more than make a comeback; he has rightfully reclaimed this role. He has proven to the bullies that their cruelty was always unwarranted, that he was always the right choice to play this character, and that hate has no place in Star Wars.