Darth Vader
Darth Vader

Darth Vader’s breathing is featured in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker sizzle reel that screened during D23.

While the image of Rey wielding a red, double-bladed lightsaber is arguably the most discussion-worthy moment of the recent sizzle reel, fans have also started debating the implications of a brief callback to the franchise’s most famous villain. We’re specifically referring to the sound of Darth Vader’s breathing, which can reportedly be heard after Emperor Palpatine delivers the ominous line, “Now your journey nears its end.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean Darth Vader is actually in The Rise of Skywalker. His breathing is simply an ominous effect that can help set a dark, eerie tone in marketing materials, and it’s hard to envision a Skywalker saga retrospective without the sound of Vader’s breathing. That said, the famed Sith Lord is going to have a presence in Star Wars 9. Footage has revealed the villain’s iconic helmet, indicating Kylo Ren will once again be communing with his grandfather during a time of need. And with Palpatine back in the fold, it’s possible Vader is referenced in dialogue as the Emperor reflects on the past. Vader was mentioned by name in both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, so it would be odd if The Rise of Skywalker broke the streak.

Seeing how J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film is set to bring some closure to the entire Skywalker Saga, perhaps it’s only fitting that the promo would find a way of referencing the original Skywalker. Still, between Yoda’s Force ghost cameo in The Last Jedi and the Emperor’s surprise return in The Rise of Skywalker, it’s easy to see why the moment has got some fans wondering if Vader might somehow make an appearance in this year’s release, be it in a flashback, a vision or in ghost form.

Fortunately, fans will be able to see the full sizzle reel in the near future. The plan is for it to be officially unveiled online Monday, August 26, when viewers all over will be able to dissect each and every frame, hunting for Easter eggs and clues about the upcoming film.

Star Wars 9 Footage at D23 Reveals of Darth Vader’s Helmet