Sifting Through the Latest 'Star Wars' Rumors

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Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm and its subsequent announcement that it will produce "Star Wars: Episode VII" have been accompanied by an avalanche of rumors and hearsay. Two of the more interesting to emerge center around Lucasfilm's planned output and Disney's desire to somehow resurrect Darth Vader in the upcoming sequel trilogy.

Let's tackle the first rumor first; it first appeared earlier this week in a British tabloid (already you can feel the credibility wilting), which cited anonymous "industry insiders" who insist that Disney wants the franchise's most iconic figure to return and play a role in the new trilogy of films.

That, of course, would be pretty much impossible given that Darth Vader was last seen roasting on an open fire before turning back into the spirit of Anakin Skywalker. Even if you somehow ignore that, it renders the entire first six films moot if Vader somehow returns. Since George Lucas himself is still guiding this new trilogy, it seems unlikely that he'll allow Disney to strong arm Vader back into things.

However, it's easy to see Disney's line of reasoning here: Vader is synonymous with "Star Wars," and the franchise is an easier sell if the infamous dark lord is around peddling the wares. As such, it seems entirely possible that Disney will find a way to bring Darth Vader back in other projects.

That brings us to a report emerging from an Entertainment Weekly feature that claims Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm intend to produce "two or three films" a year (whereas it's only produced a relative handful over the past three decades).

Now, all of these aren't likely to be "Star Wars" (Lucasfilm has some other properties kicking around), but there's a good chance that many of them will be. After all, when the deal was initially announced, Disney was insistent that it's in the "Star Wars" business for the long haul, as it plans to continue producing more films even after the sequel trilogy.

As such, I suspect Darth Vader will return in one of these spin-off films; just as the "Star Wars" universe has expanded through comic books, novels, and videogames for the past two decades, it seems likely that the film universe will eventually sprawl out and deliver spin-offs and one-shots that focus on different corners of the galaxy.

Doing so will open up the door to return to familiar characters like Vader, who could pop up in any number of adventures that take place between the prequel and original trilogy.

One thing is for sure: "Star Wars" is about to be back in everyone's lives in a very big way and for a very long time since Disney has essentially made a $4 billion gamble that the world isn't already exhausted by "Star Wars."

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