Please Star Wars, Stop Using Darth Vader's Breath To Make A Dramatic Point
The trailer for Disney’s upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series is finally here, featuring both the return of Ewan McGregor’s Kenobi, last seen in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, and the planet Tatooine, last seen on your TV like a week and a half ago. There’s a lot for Star Wars fans to be excited about in the trailer, from the use of John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates” score, to the first live action depiction of a Sith Inquisitor, to the sound of Darth Vader’s trademark obscene phone call-esque heavy breathing as the title is revealed.
You’d think that teasing out an appearance from Vader would be intriguing, but … it’s really not. And the reason for this may be that dropping in VaderBreath.mp3 has become the go-to move for Star Wars trailers, going back as far as the teaser for Attack of the Clones, which used the sound of Vader breathing for a full minute .
It was ominous, creepy, and ultimately in service of a movie that turned out to be mostly goofy nonsense featuring awkward love scenes and a planet full of CGI bug people. The Revenge of the Sith teaser similarly featured Vader breathing when the title hit at the end, as did the trailer for Rogue One, which upped the ante by adding a two second shot of his turned back.
Most confusingly, the teaser for The Rise of Skywalker builds to a moment in which the action pauses, the film cuts to black, and we hear the distant echoes of Vader’s labored robo-panting.
Which, in retrospect, makes absolutely no sense. And at the time it just confused a lot of fans who, understandably, presumed that, at some point in the movie, the ghost of Darth Vader was going to show up and give Palpatine a Force wedgie or something.
Including references to Vader makes more sense in the context of the Obi-Wan show, since we know he’s going to make an appearance, but using that particular audio cue is just beating a dead tauntaun at this point. It’s the Snoopy float in the Thanksgiving Day parade. It’s Billy Joel cranking out a half-hearted rendition of “Piano Man” at the end of another concert. And it seemingly represents Disney's deep insecurity with expanding Star Wars beyond what they’ve already sold, and even how they’re selling it.
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Top Image: Lucasfilm