A few weeks back, reports on what Luke Skywalker will be doing in [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](movie:711158) surfaced, placing him in one of two roles: The old hermit that went into hiding in fear of his own massive power, and that of the new series villain. In both tellings, Luke is said to have disappeared for a number of years (anywhere between 10 and 30) and has become extremely powerful in the ways of the force -- too powerful, if either of these ideas are to be believed.
With that said, could these rumors about Luke's role (and certain aspects of Star Wars Episode 7 - The Force Awakens) be influenced by Return of the Jedi? The original drafts went through major changes based on the storyline, actor's needs, and even toy sales.
Ending One: Father's Footsteps
In one version of the screenplay for Episode VI, Luke puts on Vader's helmet and assumes the role of his father, having succumbed to the dark side. According to this breakdown from iO9:
In a nutshell, the scene with Vader and the Emperor unspools the way it does in the final film. Vader sacrifices himself to take out the Emperor, and then Luke helps Vader to take off his famous helmet. And then — Luke puts on Vader's helmet himself. In the transcript of the story session with Lucas and Kasdan, Lucas says: "Luke takes his mask off. The mask is the very last thing — and then Luke puts it on and says, 'Now I am Vader.'
Ending Two: Surprise! Everything is Horrible
In another draft, Han Solo kicks the bucket, the Rebellion falls into shambles, and Luke disappears into the wilderness.
“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 original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.”
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.
In other words:
Can you imagine waiting thirty years to see what happened after that kind of ending!? I don't know what my world would be like if they killed off Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. That's my freakin' space husband, you guys.
Where will Luke be in [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](movie:711158)?
From what we've been told, I'm very partial to the Making Star Wars version of Luke's fate: He can't control his incredible powers, and fearing that he might fall prey to the tricks his father fell for, he goes into hiding, but resurfaces when our new hero needs help. While I originally believed Luke to be the immediate contrast to his father, who couldn't become the one hero that brought balance to the galaxy, it seems like Luke still battles with fear as he did in the original trilogy. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate...
So far, the onscreen story of Star Wars has focused primarily on the history of the Skywalker family, so will our new hero (rumored to be Daisy Ridley's character) take up the mantle as the Skywalker who exists as a representative of the light side? More importantly, will this movie challenge the "two-party system" of the Light Side VS. the Dark Side with Luke, who seems to sit within a "Grey Area"?
With the trailer rumored to hit within the next few weeks, only time will tell whether the fate of Luke Skywalker was inspired by his alternate plotlines in Return of the Jedi. Until then - speculate away! I'd love to see your theories in the comments below.