Wow… that is some complicated nonsense. Vader is Luke’s father but not Anakin… that makes no sense at all.
Vader being Luke’s father doesn’t automatically mean he specifically used to be Anakin. Don’t get me wrong; I used to think that it did as well, until I looked into it a bit more. Vader and Anakin remaining separate people - with the former being the father of Luke rather than the latter - makes for a better explanation for why Ben and Yoda don’t warn Luke about this in ESB, and coheres with what Ben told Luke in the first film, without the whole “certain point of view” thing. And as I asked before: how can Ben be absolutely certain that his friend (Annikin/Anakin) was Luke’s (biological) father? Of course, this is predicated on Yoda and Ben - and of course, the Emperor - all assuming the Anakin was the father, and not knowing that it was actually Vader. There’s also that line of Vader’s from ESB: “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” How could Vader know this? Unless…Vader knew something that Obi-Wan didn’t know.
The name Anakin hadn’t come up yet when Vader, in James Earl Jones’s voice (or in the novel if you read that first), said he was Luke’s father.
Actually, it had come up by then, but it was spelled Annikin, instead. It was in a continuity discussion between Carol Titleman and SW director or marketing Charles Lippincott dated July/August of 1977. For whatever reason, Lucas wasn’t using it in his ESB notes. Another name, that of “Tan Skywalker” was used in some licensing material from 1979 (the Russ Manning Sunday Comic strip authorized by Black Falcon LTD, an LFL subsidiary). Otherwise, he kept Luke’s father as a nameless character, until ROTJ, when he finally decided upon Anakin.
We have no idea when Lucas decided that was going to be the story, but script hints at it with the consistent lack of any line at that location (referring instead to inserted dialog). We only know that sometime between the dated first draft in Feb 78 and the completion of filming in Sept 79 that Vader was Luke’s father. It could have been earlier (and not included in what he gave Leigh Brackett on the story), but we really don’t know. It was almost certainly in the script that the novelization writer worked off of, but that was about the same time.
In my opinion, what I think is more improbable/ludicrous (or what you would call, “nonsense”) is the idea that Lucas suddenly came up with Vader=Anakin, in the Spring of 1978 (the period you refer to), with no prior precedent.
Lucas claims he had that in mind from earlier, but with his track record at reconning the past, he can’t be completely trusted. But, others can. Hamill, Kershner, and Kasdan had no reason to lie and according to them it was intended that way from Hamill’s performance on set and had been that way in the full screenplay (not the shooting copies given to the crew) for quite some time. The earlier drafts of the screenplay bear this out by having a reference to inserted dialog.
All that says is that they were told that Vader would claim to be Luke’s father…still a far cry from establishing that he’s the same father character that Ben talked about in the first film, or the Anakin of ROTJ.
According to the book Star Wars: The Annotated Scripts (by Laurent Bouzereau), it was the second draft that had the first version of the iconic “I am your father” scene. That was the draft Lucas did himself before Kasdan came on board. This doesn’t quite back Lucas up, but it does place it very early in the story development.
Yes, and in this same draft, Yoda still tells Luke that his father and Ben were both his students and that they trained on the bog planet, just like he says in the first draft. Vader was still being said to have been Ben’s student. So even with Vader being Luke’s father, he most likely wasn’t supposed to be the same father character that Ben talked about in the first film, if that man, along with Ben, were both trained by someone else (in this case Yoda)> This was subsequently changed in one of Lucas’s re-writes (the typed version of the Second Draft), where Yoda says that he trained Ben, who then trained Luke’s father. Which, btw, doesn’t indicate necessarily that by then, Anakin and Vader were the same person. Marvel Comics, in a story flash back (from the Annual issue #1 dated 1979), took it as meaning that Ben had TWO apprentices, Skywalker Sr. and Darth Vader. The later drafts, from the Third draft (by Kasdan) onwards, dropped the whole subject of who trained Luke’s father from the script entirely, leaving that matter up to the next film. But please not that in the final film, Skywalker Sr. and Vader are still spoken of as separate people by the Emperor, and only Vader is still spoken of as Ben’s (former) student.
To sum up, it was only with ROTJ that is was established that:
- Vader was Luke’s father
- That he used to be Anakin - the same friend and father of Luke that Ben talked about in the first film
- That Anakin was trained by Ben (Obi-Wan)
edit to add:
The idea of Vader and Anakin being the same person seems to date from the making of ESB, as you say. But the notion of Vader being a secret Skywalker (Luke’s brother, uncle, illegitimate father) seems to have been present even on the first film: in a 1975 conversation with Alan Dean Foster, Lucas said the second SW film was when we would “learn who Darth Vader is”.
ATMachine, I think the “stumbling block” for a lot of people on the “secret Skywalker” thing for Vader’s former identity pre-Vader, is the forgone conclusion that Anakin Skywalker was envisioned as an only child back when Star Wars was made, just like he is in the PT.