Star Wars: Disney’s Sequel Trilogy Never Even Used Anakin Skywalker’s Name

Disney continued the Skywalker saga with its Star Wars sequel trilogy but, despite pulling together threads from both the original and prequel trilogy, it never once used Darth Vader’s real name of Anakin Skywalker. Disney’s sequels, starting with 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, brought in new characters but were still intrinsically linked to the past, with legacy characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa all given important roles to play throughout the movies. That stretched to include Darth Vader, who became the key inspiration for the saga’s new villain, Kylo Ren.

The specter of Darth Vader loomed large over Kylo Ren, who had salvaged the charred remains of his mask and mounted it as a shrine to everything he hoped to one day become as a dark side Force user. While mentions of Vader himself were only scant, they did happen across all of the three movies in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, with the focus very much on the character’s role as a villain and, perhaps more tellingly, the iconography of that through his helmet, which seemed to matter more than his character’s arc.

Related: Star Wars: R2-D2 Makes Anakin’s Dark Side Turn More Tragic

While it’s understandable how Darth Vader’s legacy was twisted into a motivator for Kylo Ren, this came at the expense of his true legacy. Vader may have been a powerful Sith Lord who killed countless people and helped enforce the Emperor’s rule, but Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, the Jedi who was redeemed and brought balance to the Force. That’s an extremely important part of his story, and a defining one of the Skywalker saga, and yet it’s largely forgotten about in the sequels – so much so that not one of the movies ever uses the name “Anakin Skywalker”. In The Force Awakens, Han tells Leia that their was “too much Vader” in Ben Solo, while Rey tells Kylo that he worries he’ll never be as strong as Vader. The closest it comes to mentioning Anakin in a good light is Maz referring to the Skywalker lightsaber as Luke’s father’s.

This continues in both Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Vader is mentioned a few times by Snoke in the former, using him as motivation for Kylo Ren to erase the conflict within him. Rey, meanwhile, finally addresses the fact Vader was redeemed in a conversation with Luke on Ahch-To, but it’s one line of dialogue that still doesn’t use Anakin’s name, though it at least respects the fact Vader was brought back from the dark side. In The Rise of Skywalker, Darth Vader is once again used as a tool to try and manipulate Kylo, and it’s even revealed that it was Palpatine all along doing that. Anakin’s voice is heard, too (although sadly there’s no Hayden Christensen Force ghost Anakin appearance), telling Rey at the very end: “Rey. Bring back the balance, Rey, as I did. The Force surrounds you, Rey. Let it lift you.” 

While The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker both come closer to honoring Anakin’s story, the Star Wars sequel trilogy as a whole doesn’t go far enough with it. It would’ve been easy to use Anakin’s name somewhere in there, especially with so much discussion of Kylo Ren’s own potential redemption – Han, Luke, Leia, and Rey are all characters who potentially could’ve referenced him more fully than how it was done, but instead the focus is always kept on Darth Vader, despite Anakin returning in Return of the Jedi. Perhaps the most damning way to look at it is that the first six Star Wars movies are Anakin Skywalker’s saga; his rise, fall, and redemption. For anyone who watches the Star Wars sequel trilogy first, not only would they not know that full story, but they wouldn’t even know his name.

Next: Star Wars: When Did Obi-Wan Learn Anakin Was Still Alive (& How)

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