"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is nearing the end of its theatrical run, but there has been lots of chatter about deleted scenes and plot threads that were excised or dropped through the development process. And this latest rumor (of sorts) goes back a couple of years.
In 2014, word circulated that a flashback sequence (now known as the "Force flashback" Rey experiences when she first holds Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber) was going to feature Darth Vader. In December, it was reported that a cut scene would’ve featured the moment when Darth Vader cuts off Luke’s hand from ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ and then launched into a series of scenes explaining the journey his lightsaber took in subsequent years before winding up at Maz Kanata’s. And now, that chatter gets a bit more juice.
According to Making Star Wars, new actors were cast in the roles of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, and that Bespin sequence might’ve been reshot from a different view for Rey’s flashback. This sort of gets more credence with the newly released official book, "Star Wars The Force Awakens: Rey’s Story," which features the following excerpt from the flashback moment:
As she peered into the distance, she saw a man in black wielding a red Lightsaber. His face was covered with a mask, molded to approximate a human face. But the mask’s eyes were dead and empty. The man’s red Lightsaber clashed against a brilliant beam of blue. A young man with blond hair raised his own Lightsaber and fought furiously against the monster in black.
Basically, it’s safe to assume the flashback was originally conceived as a much bigger sequence, but whether or not J.J. Abrams actually shot a new Bespin fight (or anything other than what we saw), we’ll probably just have to wait until the home video release to find out. But for me, in a movie that already winks so heavily to the original trilogy, leaving this out was probably a good idea.