Star Wars fans who are still buzzing from the franchise’s blockbuster return could be in for another treat: The series’ most notorious villain may be back on the silver screen as soon as this year.
That’s right, Darth Vader is rumored to be a part of the plot for the first in the upcoming series of Star Wars anthology films. Called Rogue One, the standalone movie hits theaters in December and will feature a plot that revolves around the rebel alliance’s mission to steal secret plans for the Death Star. In other words, the film takes place before the franchise’s first entry, 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope.
According to movie reviews website JoBlo, Darth Vader will appear in the spinoff and will have a larger role in the film than had been previously expected (with earlier reports suggesting his appearance only as a hologram). His return would mark Vader’s first big screen appearance since the final moments of 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.
So far, there has been no confirmation that actor James Earl Jones will return to voice Darth Vader, as he did in Sith (as well as the original trilogy) but Jones did recently voice an animated version of the character for Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels television series.
Walt Disney (DIS) is obviously hoping to continue reaping financial rewards for its 2012 purchase of the Star Wars franchise. In addition to December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens—which soared to box office records, pulling in $1.9 billion globally, so far—the company has two more sequels in the works as well as three standalone anthology spinoffs, including Rogue One and a film portraying a young version of Han Solo that’s set for a 2018 release.