Darth Vader makes his return to the big screen in his full black life-supporting armor this weekend in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Aside from only a short cameo of the look itself in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, this is the first time we'll see him in action in costume on the big screen in over thirty years.
Director Gareth Edwards spoke at length on the press tour about the "honor and responsibility" of having Darth Vader in his film, and what it meant to him. That care is shown well throughout the movie, with direct links to both the prequel trilogy (specifically Sith) and the Original Trilogy, including Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which this film leads into.
Click through for the exact ways that Rogue One's Vader connects to the character we saw in those two films, but beware, there are SPOILERS galore following.
A Broken Vader
We see Darth Vader's un-armored body in Rogue One, something we never saw in the original trilogy. We did, however, see that in the prequel trilogy, when Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith showed us exactly why he needed that life support armor.
The Return of the Red Lenses
When the camera goes close-up on Darth Vader's visage, we can clearly see red lenses in the helmet. That's a nod to A New Hope, which featured the red eye glass, where subsequent appearances did not (he is seen with the red lenses on Star Wars Rebels in animation, as well). A nice way to tie the film much more closely to the first Star Wars, despite some other slight costume changes that VFX Supervisor and EP John Knoll explained to ComicBook.com during the press junket weekend.
The Force Choke
In Darth Vader's encounter with Director Krennic, he reminds him exactly what crossing the Sith will do. Back turned, not making any kind of eye contact, Vader pinches his hand, choking Krennic with the Force. We first saw the move in A New Hope, and Vader has used it across every medium, in comics, novels, video games, and animation.
The Voice of James Earl Jones
As Ben Folds once said, "those deep rich tones." Yes, James Earl Jones is back voicing Darth Vader, the dark lord of the Sith and perpetual apprentice. His two major scenes only included dialogue in one, but his presence was surely felt. Having Jones there to provide the forceful bass between Vader's agonized mechanical breaths made all the difference to remind fans this movie leads right into A New Hope. The shining red lightsaber didn't hurt, either.