As excitement for [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](movie:711158) grows stronger every day, fans have been taking to the internet to talk about the new "trio": John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and presumably Oscar Isaac, the three characters whose faces were featured in the teaser trailer for Episode VII. But, as we wait to see who, exactly, the Force awakens within, it's important to look back at our "golden trio" of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Han Solo. Knowing your facts about the three characters that started it all (technically) will help you quite a bit when it comes to following along with the aftermath of what they fought for.
With that said: Welcome to Everything We Know, where I detail the canon that you need to know for Episode VII! Please remember that everything I'm going to cover in this article will only follow what's considered as current canon. First up?
Luke Skywalker, farm boy Jedi Knight
The hero of the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker was a character that any teen could identify with in the late 70's: rebellious and looking to the horizon in hopes of a more adventurous life. When he was a baby, he was separated from his twin sister, Leia, and put into their care to keep him hidden from Darth Vader (who was actually their father, Anakin, after turning to the dark side and losing a bunch of his limbs in a fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi) and the Empire. Luke lives with his uncle and aunt, Owen and Beru Lars, on the outer rim desert planet of Tatooine, and helps his Uncle run the family's moisture farm.
At 16 years old, Luke is rescued from murderous Tusken Raiders by the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, and after Luke returns to see the moisture farm destroyed and his caretakers murdered, Obi-Wan tells Luke of his parentage - conveniently leaving out the parts where Luke's father turned completely evil and murdered a bunch of Jedi toddlers. The two of them take off on a mission to the planet Alderaan to assist Princess Leia and the Rebel Alliance in their ongoing battle against the tyrannic Galactic Empire.
Over the course of the original trilogy, Luke demonstrates that he's a genius with droids and an incredibly skilled pilot, much like his father Anakin Skywalker.
By the end of the original trilogy, Luke is a Jedi Knight (and outside of Leia, the only known force-sensitive person alive), Vader is dead, and the Empire suffers a huge defeat by the Rebels on the planet Endor thanks to Luke and his friends. Luke is legendary, not only for his status as a Jedi, but because he and his friends successfully destroyed two Death Star operations and mostly (mostly) dismantled the Empire with little more than a small fleet of mostly young adults.
That's the basic rundown! Here are the other details you need to know:
He was going to join the Imperial Academy
Luke seems to be the last of his local crew still living at home, as his friends (including Biggs Darklighter, who we see at the end after he defects and joins the Rebellion) have all enrolled in the Imperial Academy by the time the film begins (A scene featuring them was removed from A New Hope).
By A New Hope, the clones that the Empire usually employed were either all dead or mostly useless, because they aged twice as fast as normal human beings. In response, the Empire began recruiting citizens - and on several planets, it was mandatory.
Luke and Ezra Bridger
Put a pin in this: Canonically, Luke was born in the same year as Ezra Bridger, the main character of [Star Wars Rebels](series:965946) - 19 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, as dictated by the Galactic Standard Calendar). It's also interesting to note that Ezra, too, lives in an Outer Rim desert planet, called Lothal. Both of them are force-sensitive, training to be Jedi, and technically without parents. The parallels are pretty interesting when it comes to Luke and Ezra, but it's not known whether or not this is of any significance as of yet.
Luke Became a Jedi Knight REALLY Fast
The one fact that's pretty widely known about Luke is that he's a Jedi - a Jedi Knight, to be exact, at the end of the Original Trilogy. But unlike most Jedi that came before him, Luke wasn't raised in a temple, nor did he have one consistent master to guide him through his training. Canonically, Luke is trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, and after Obi-Wan dies at the hands of Darth Vader, Luke finishes his training under the guidance of Yoda. Luke, technically, did not have to live by certain laws and codes that the previous generation's Jedi had to live by, and did not practice the same training methods as they did.
With that in mind, Luke is pretty badass for a Jedi of his age. Most Jedi began training when they were toddlers - even Luke's second master, Yoda, argues that he's far too old to begin training - but hey, almost all of the Jedi were slaughtered, so Yoda's evidently been wrong about a few things before.
Luke essentially jams a lifetime of training into five years and proves that, even though he has a ton to learn, he certainly is part of a family that is (in)famous for it's strength in the Force.
By the end of ROTJ, Luke can do some pretty amazing things: not only are his piloting and fighting skills super beefed up because he's in tune with the Force, but he can move objects, perform mind tricks, and leap higher than any Ubisoft-hired parkour stuntman I know. Luke is pretty serious about studying the Force, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see him demonstrating that in The Force Awakens.
He Lost His Right Hand
Yes, his actual right hand, not some dude that helps him. In his first major battle with Darth Vader, Luke is hanging onto a pillar for dear life when Vader informs Luke that he is, indeed, Luke's father, and then (like any great dad would) cuts Luke's hand clear off with his lightsaber when Luke refuses to join him on the Dark side of the force. It's actually a pretty emotional scene - check it out:
Something to keep in mind for VII: Luke's hand, and his lightsaber (which originally belonged to his father, Anakin), were never recovered after this fight. Luke just got a robot hand and builds a new lightsaber. Nobody really ever goes looking for it. What the heck happened to it?! Doesn't anybody know about the risks of cloning in Star Wars?!
The Skywalker Family as we know it
The film universe of Star Wars has, arguably, been about the Skywalker family and their affect on the Force. This certainly doesn't hold true for the books, comics, and video games that accompany the movies (though most of them are no longer considered canon) but Luke's short lineage is buried deeply within the Force, starting with the pregnancy of Shmi Skywalker.
As of right now, Shmi Skywalker is the first known Skywalker in Star Wars. Shmi was a slave on Tatooine who became pregnant with zero explanation. She gave birth to Anakin Skywalker, who in turn became a slave under the service of Watto with her. With no known father, Anakin's birth was deemed a miracle. There are several theories on how Shmi became pregnant, so I'd love it if we got a canon explanation on this Space Virgin Mary situation in the new trilogy.
Anakin fell in love with and secretly married Senator Padme Amidala Nabierre, the former Queen of Naboo. The couple kept their marriage a secret because the Jedi were not allowed to love or marry, as it was seen as a liability that spurned dangerous emotions - also, Anakin was a former slave, and Padme's social status would apparently be tarnished if their relationship was made public. But honestly, they didn't do a whole lot to keep it a secret.
Padme died giving birth to Luke and Leia (a point of confusion, as Leia recalled memories of her mother in ROTJ) from unexplained complications, but it's pretty easy to assume that the stress of war, being force-choked by her husband and the grief of losing him played a pretty large part in her death.
Shmi married into the Lars family after Cliegg Lars bought her from Watto and freed her from slavery for good. A few years later, though, Shmi was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders, Cliegg lost limbs in the fight, and Shmi ended up getting killed within the Raider camp. Cliegg's son Owen, who was Luke's uncle by marriage, later adopted Luke and raised him on the family moisture farm.
At the end of the Original Trilogy, Luke and Leia are the only known surviving members of the Skywalker clan.
Before VII, you should read these!
The Force Awakens hits theaters next year, on December 18th - but before then, a bunch of great new Star Wars stories are coming out in the form of books and comics.
If you're looking to learn even more about Luke (it'll be canon, too) I would definitely recommend checking out Heir to the Jedi, a new novel that takes place directly after A New Hope, focusing entirely on Luke's development as a Jedi. The title is also a tribute to one of the most beloved books of the "Legends" universe, Heir to the Empire. The book releases on March 3rd, which, just in case you weren't aware, is four days before my birthday... hint hint.
[Marvel](channel:932254) is also getting a piece of that Star Wars pie: starting in January, they're releasing an all-new Star Wars comic series, which also takes place after A New Hope. It looks like Disney is working hard to fill in the holes they left in our hearts by them tossing the Expanded Universe - here's a preview of what the first issue contains (sans words):
Why are Luke and Leia disguised as skiff guards (as Lando was on Jabba's barge in Return of the Jedi)? You'll have to wait until January 14th to find out.
Join in next time when I give you the lowdown on everyone's favorite sassy politician, Princess Leia Organa!