Unless you've been hiding in a swamp shack on Dagobah and didn't get the memo, the very first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was just unveiled to the galaxy. This suitably atmospheric footage put Rey's Jedi training in the spotlight while keeping Luke Skywalker himself in the shadows.
"Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi Craves Not These Things"
In a brief interview with Fandango, Hamill was asked how different Luke Skywalker is in The Last Jedi. He claimed that Luke hasn't just changed, he is a completely different person:
“He had an arc [in the original trilogy], and I think Carrie and Harrison admitted their characters were pretty much the same throughout, but Luke was always changing. Now we have this 30-year gap between the films, so a lot of if is conjecture. It’s not specifically my story – Rey is now the protagonist.”
Luke's story began 40 years ago when he was very much a stifled teenager yearning for adventure. The journey of the original trilogy forced him through a plethora of traumatic events, and when audiences last saw Luke Skywalker, he was a matured and powerful Jedi Knight.
Fans who expected to see this character reprised in The Force Awakens were ultimately disappointing when faced with a bleary Luke Skywalker, who seemed to have forgotten his lines. Then the credits rolled.
It was a powerful but contentious ending, hinting at just how sorely Luke has taken the loss of his new Jedi Order.
There was never any doubt that he'd come around to teaching Rey, however, whether that was in a brief gap between Episodes 7 and 8, or during the course of The Last Jedi. Rey's training likely brings Luke's journey to its conclusion. He's no longer the hopeful youngster trapped on an outer rim planet, and he's not even the powerful and competent adult: Luke is the exiled master wiling out his years.
"When Nine Hundred Years Old You Reach, Look As Good You Will Not"
The echoes of the original trilogy were louder than the Star Wars fanfare in The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi still seems to be retracing old steps. Luke is now Yoda, hiding on an empty rural planet, reluctantly pulled back into action by a promising new apprentice.
Yet Mark Hamill suggested that Luke's story arc isn't quite so cut-and-dry, claiming that he wasn't initially happy with the path his character takes during The Last Jedi:
“I think you’ll find some things that’ll surprise you. They certainly surprised me. I said to Rian, I think I fundamentally disagree with everything you’ve decided for me. Now having said that, I have to accept it, get my mind around it and do my best to realize your vision. Once I got into it, a lot of my fears went away.”
The characteristically cryptic actor could mean any number of things by this. Hamill isn't above blowing smokescreens and has deliberately lied and misled fans before in order to protect the integrity of his movies. It's a trait that's served Star Wars well in the past, but has infuriated and tantalized fans over the years.
So, add to those comments this veiled insinuation that Luke Skywalker's journey might be coming to an end in The Last Jedi. When asked if he would be in the saga beyond Episode VIII, Hamill said:
“That’s why I enjoy Rogue One so much… because I’m not in it. This is a little too high-profile for me.”
Then, when pried further about whether Star Wars Episode VIII is the last audiences are going to see of Luke Skywalker, Hamill smirked and said simply: "To be determined."
Disney proved with The Force Awakens that it was prepared to axe beloved characters in service of the story and the new generation of protagonists. Now that Luke's story has come full-circle, many have already speculated that Luke Skywalker will meet his demise in The Last Jedi, Hamill is merely adding fuel to the fire with typical cheeky charm.
Even if Luke Skywalker dies in Episode VIII, that doesn't necessarily mean the end of Hamill's involvement with future movies. He could always appear as a blue ghost via the handy medium of the Force, or through flashbacks to explore the origin of his division with Ben Solo (Kylo Ren). It certainly seems as though Rian Johnson is going to bend the linear storytelling of Star Wars to include flashbacks, and there's no reason why that trend can't continue into Episode IX.
"I Only Know One Truth: It's Time For The Jedi To End."
Yet, if Hamill's comments are to be taken at face value, Luke's death wouldn't be remotely surprising, unless the manner of it was particularly ignominious. Everyone expects him to fall in a blazing display of Force aptitude versus Kylo Ren or the opulent Supreme Leader Snoke. It wouldn't even be surprising for him to succumb to age or an ailment, fully completing the transition to ailing teacher a la Yoda.
What would be surprising is to see Luke's halo slip, and to see something of the Dark Side in the infallible Chosen One. It almost happened at the end of Return of The Jedi, why not now? Or maybe he'll aim for a path more gray than the Light Side or the Dark Side?
Do you think we'll see the last of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi?