Ever since the final trailer for the new Star Wars movie dropped, fans have had one question on their lips – just where the hell is Luke Skywalker?
We know that Mark Hamill has been cast in the role to return and we’ve seen all the other characters from the past in the trailer (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, RJD2, C3P0 etc) but there has been no mention of suggestion of Luke in any of them at all. Creator J.J. Abrams has stated that there’s a very deliberate reason for this too and that’s fuelled speculation that a lot of people probably aren’t going to like if it comes to fruition.
I found the most definitive version of this theory over on Medium, so props to Rob Conery for articulating it better than I could and also knowing way more about Star Wars than I ever could. Here goes – basically Luke has turned to the dark side and is the new villain known as Kylo Ren. Also this is LONG but well worth reading:
This, for me, is righting something that has never sat well with me: the oddball and underwhelming ending of Return of the Jedi.
I’ve had this argument with friends so many times. Some think as I do; others remain convinced that Luke ended the original trilogy as a good guy.
I say he, in fact, had turned to the dark side and we watched it happen in blissful ignorance, choosing to believe that he would always be the good guy. Lucas wanted it this way so he could sell more toys. But there’s way more to this story.
Seeing these previews I think my theory might be correct: Luke gave in to the dark side to save his friends and defeat Vader and the emperor. We don’t know what will happen after that, and hopefully we’ll find out in December and we’ll see if I’m right.
Here are my arguments, in no particular order…
“The Cave… Remember Your Failure at the Cave…”
Yoda knew the whole time that Luke was on the same path as his Anakin. He was reluctant to train him and said flatly that Luke would give in to the dark side if he left Dagobah to save his friends. The most striking part of this whole sequence (Luke’s training with Yoda) is the cave.
Many people (my friends included) put it off as foreshadowing Luke’s discovery that Vader is his father. I think it’s foreshadowing that Luke will become his father. Of course, you don’t know Vader’s his dad at this point — but at the end of the film, when I thought back to the cave… it made perfect sense. It’s good, solid plot juice. Becoming your parents (or trying not to) is a huge motivator.
And Luke failed, according to Yoda. More than thatâ€Š–â€ŠYoda issued this warning which Luke completely ignored:
Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his emperor. If you end your training now… if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did… you will become an agent of evil.
There it is: Yoda said it point blank. How many times has Yoda been wrong in the first six films? It’s almost like he can see the future sometimes! He knew Luke was on a path to become his father and, by leaving, he failed at preventing it.
Told you I did, reckless is he… now… matters are worse.
This is the start of Luke’s slide.
The Original Ending
The original ending of Return of the Jedi is incredibly hokey, but there is a poignant scene where Luke burns his dad’s body and you could feel his tension and anger. None of this was supposed to happen according to this 2010 LA Times article (emphasis mine):
“We had an outline and George changed everything in it,” Kurtz said. “Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy…
The discussed ending of the film that Kurtz favored presented the rebel forces in tatters, Leia grappling with her new duties as queen and Luke walking off alone “like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns,” as Kurtz put it.
This is where story and solid plot development separate from building a franchise designed to sell toys. It’s widely known that Lucas favored toy sales over character and storyline. Again, from Kurtz:
I could see where things were headed,” Kurtz said. “The toy business began to drive the [Lucasfilm] empire. It’s a shame. They make three times as much on toys as they do on films. It’s natural to make decisions that protect the toy business, but that’s not the best thing for making quality films.
The first film and Empire were about story and character, but I could see that George’s priorities were changing.
The theory continues on the next page: