Luke Skywalker is on everyone’s mind nowadays. He’s the biggest mystery going into The Force Awakens – the greatest wild card. Why has he been so absent in recent advertising? Where has the character been, and what has he been doing for the past 30 years? He was notably absent in the recent poster that was released prior to the third trailer. Almost the entire cast, primary to tertiary, was present. In the latest trailer we only get a tiny snippet of him (the same clip we received in the second teaser) with his hand on R2’s shiny little dome. Because of this absence, there have been 4 primary theories that I’d like to shoot down, or at least bring down a peg, because each seems a bit silly to me.
But before that, I want to share my own take on the trailer. Believe it or not, Luke was ALL OVER IT. Maybe not Mark Hamill, but Luke’s presence. When Han exclaims that all of the stories, the Dark Side, the Jedi – they’re true, you know he’s thinking about Luke. This is the same guy that in Episode IV claimed that the Force was a bunch of ‘hokey tricks and nonsense’. Who taught him otherwise? And after Lupita Nyong’o’s character Maz Kanata tells Rey to “Let it in,” who’s theme do we hear? In soft chords, Luke’s Force theme permeates through the darkness. It’s beautiful really.
Now, let’s break down some of these theories about Luke’s lack of physical presence, and see why they’re mostly unfounded.
Theory I – Luke doesn’t have a major role/is only in the last few scenes.
Look at the movie poster again. Who’s names appear on the billing list first? Harrison Ford. No doubt he’ll have the most screentime of the original trio. And then? Mark Hamill. This is very telling. We’ve seen what… 3 minutes of original footage from the film, in all the combined trailers? The film is over 2 hours in length. Luke could be the first face we see in the new film, who knows. He could be a main character throughout. I don’t think he will be, but it’s a possibility. But he’ll be hugely significant in the second portion of the film for sure, because as everyone is well aware, his wherabouts are the prevailing mystery, and every mystery deserves a proper resolution. Especially if R2-D2 is with him. We need to see some BB-8/R2 interaction!
Some fans are guessing that he might actually show up in the last scene in the film. What a cliffhanger! Come to think of it, in no previous Star Wars film has there been a cliffhanger. They have all been standalone stories/episodes – and most of the time they end in some sort of celebratory occasion. I do not think we’ll be given a cliffhanger. It’s just not Star Wars.
Theory II – Luke Skywalker is Kylo Ren/Supreme Leader Snoke/has turned to the Dark Side.
It’s no secret that Luke has at times straddled the line between good and evil, light and dark. He is his father’s son. In pre-production for Return/Revenge of the Jedi, Lucas and Kasdan (the latter being the script writer for episodes V and VI) argued about how Luke’s story arc should end. One of the prevailing ideas for the film was that, at the end, Luke would put on Vader’s helmet and continue in his footsteps. This was inevitably vetoed by Lucas in favor of the film we got. Well, Lawrence Kasdan is now the writer for Episode VII, and Lucas is no longer in the picture. Mark Hamill has mentioned in the past that he always envisioned Luke turning to the Dark Side of the Force. It would certainly make for a great tale. But will we ever get that film?
30 years have passed. It is likely that Luke has, on occasion, been in touch with his Dark Side. That would make for a great book/series. I don’t think it would make for a great film. We have new heroes in Rey, Finn, and Poe. I’m going to guess that 2/3 of those characters will be Force sensitive beings. They will need guidance. Luke is the obvious Master.
As far as Luke being Kylo Ren, and finishing what Vader started? We have seen pictures and video of Kylo with his mask off. He’s being played by Adam Driver, not Mark Hamill. Kylo Ren’s saber is very shabby, and unrefined. This shows he has a very limited grasp on how to construct one, along with being a weak Force user (as the Kyber crystal is clearly placed insecurely). Luke has made a lightsaber previously. We’ve seen it in action in Return of the Jedi. And Kylo Ren is in search of ‘the last Jedi’, a line we hear in some of the merchandising for the film. Sure, Jedi is also a plural noun, but it sounds like he’s talking about tracking down a hidden Jedi, singular. That sounds to me like Luke Skywalker. Plus, we’ve totally seen a leaked image of Luke wearing Obi-Wan-esque robes.
What about Supreme Leader Snoke, the supposed Sith Lord of the new films, and leader of the First Order? Is it likely that Luke will be involved with this character, who is known to be played by Andy Serkis? It’s unlikely, again. See the above paragraph.
Theory III – Luke is a Force ghost.
One prevailing theory may have some credence behind it. Many believe that Luke’s big reveal is such a spoiler that they can’t even show him, lest we know what happens. That has prompted many to speculate that Luke has already died and transcended into the Force and become a ghost, in the same vein that Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin have previously. That would certainly be a twist.
But it’s unlikely. We saw the moment each of those previous Jedi died to become a Force ghost. Those moments were satisfying resolutions to their lives. Would you honestly feel satisfied seeing a film in which Luke shows up only to impart a few words here and there, as a transparent blue figure? No. We would feel cheated that we didn’t see what got him in the end, and Disney doesn’t want you to feel as though the film was in any way anticlimactic.
Also, please note again the header image. A hooded figure touches R2 with a cybernetic hand – the same hand Luke lost in The Empire Strikes Back. This is almost undeniably Luke Skywalker. In the second teaser, we get a glimpse of the hooded figure just as the narrator (Luke Skywalker) exclaims that he has the Force. I can’t think of anyone else it could be.
Theory IV – Luke is scared of his own abilities and is hiding/shying away from his duties.
This is the most probable of the four theories. Unfortunately there is little to back it up. We know that Kylo Ren is looking for ‘the last Jedi,’ but that’s just about it. Noting the picture above, we can also make the assumption that Luke isn’t keeping up with appearances. He’s allowed the synthetic skin atop his prosthetic hand to fall off. This might imply some sort of self-imposed reclusion. Is he scared of something? Is he frightened of action? Is he in hiding? Are his abilities so strong he fears them? Is he protecting something? All are possible, and plausible even.
But what we know of Luke Skywalker is that he is a man of action. Knowing his friends were in danger, he forewent his completion of Jedi training with Master Yoda to save them. Luke is the guy that rushed into military action to help aid the rebellion. And what little we know of him post-Return of the Jedi is that he is still performing personal missions and other asides for the Rebellion. This doesn’t seem like a guy who would be scared of anything, besides following in his father’s footsteps. And I don’t think we have to worry about that at this stage in his character arc.
However, he could be actively protecting something…
So where in the galaxy is Luke Skywalker!?
Luke Skywalker is a MAJOR character in this film, and the fact that Luke isn’t being shown is purposeful. It’s to get us guessing. And there are a plethora of ideas, but some need to rein in their speculation quite a bit. We don’t know exactly where he is, or even have a solid idea. Likely he’s out honing his Force skills further. Perhaps he’s hanging out on Skellig Michael (a filming location he was reportedly seen on) protecting the Force tree he procured in the Shattered Empire comic series. Perhaps he’s collecting artifacts that have been lost to the Jedi. Perhaps he’s already started rebuilding the Jedi Order, as per Yoda’s wish. By revealing to Luke that he had a sister on his deathbed it was implied/hinted that it would be he who took over the Jedi teachings, and to pass on his knowledge of the Force. I can’t imagine a future where Luke doesn’t do just that.
Luke is out doing something. And it’s something hugely important to Star Wars. We just don’t know what it is yet. But rest assured, he’s on a mission of some kind.
Here’s a theory. If Kylo Ren is Han and Leia’s child, and he were Force sensitive, he likely would have trained with Luke. He may have become seduced by the powers of the Dark Side, and become the villainous character we see in the film. Luke would feel very betrayed, and more, he would feel as though he betrayed his sister and brother in law. And thus they haven’t seen him in years. Just a theory I came up with on the spot. Don’t take it as factual. I don’t believe it, personally. But it could make sense.
Either way, let the speculation continue. 48 days left!
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