(Warning - the following may contain at least one MAJOR SPOILER for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Or, since everything is pretty darned speculative at this point, it might not. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you...)
Now, a few days back, we took a look at some of the strangest facts hiding within the original Star Wars trilogy - and at just what they might mean for the forthcoming Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Two of the biggest takeaways? The Ewoks might just be a heck of a lot more important than you'd think, and Yoda was almost played by a monkey.
As it turns out, though, there was one hidden detail from the original trilogy that might just prove even more influential on the soon-to-arrive Episode VII than any other. Specifically:
Return of the Jedi's Original Ending Was Very Different
Y'see, back when George Lucas was first working on the project with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, he evidently toyed with the idea of taking the movie in a much, much darker direction than we originally saw on screen. So much so, in fact, that after Darth Vader defeated the Emperor, sacrificing himself to save Luke's life (and redeem the Anakin inside), we were going to see this:
"Luke takes his mask off. The mask is the very last thing - and then Luke puts it on and says, 'Now I am Vader.' Surprise! The ultimate twist. 'Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe.'"
Yup, that's right. George Lucas - those are his own words - was seriously considering having Luke Skywalker turn to the Dark Side in the final moments of Return of the Jedi, before sending us out into the world to...rage impotently against the dying of the light, I guess?
What Does That Have To Do With Episode VII, Though?
After all, that ultimately wasn't how Return of the Jedi ended, so it has absolutely no bearing on the direct sequel to the movie, surely?
Well, perhaps - but with many of the rumors flowing out of the Episode VII set suggesting dark plot strands are afoot, it seems as though it might be worth considering the possibility that someone involved in the new production might just have been reading up on George Lucas' original ideas for Return of the Jedi, and, happening upon that particular twist, come up with a cunning plan of some sort. Y'see:
A Whole Lot of Rumors Have Suggested That Luke Will Have Turned to the Dark Side
Or, at least, that he will have flirted with it at some point in the past, and might now be somewhere on the murkier side of the dark/light spectrum. Indeed, some are now speculating that the unidentified person Kylo Ren is talking to in the most recent trailer - while seemingly hanging out with his no-longer near-mint Darth Vader helmet - could actually be Luke.
If so, then...
Could We See a Villainous, Dark Side Luke in Episode VII?
Well, perhaps - and as many across the internet have recently pointed out, Mark Hamill pitched exactly that idea back in 2005 during an episode of Dinner for Five, in which he argued in favor of a dark-side Luke Skywalker:
"As an actor that would be more fun to play. I just thought that’s the way it was going from when we finished. I figured that’s what will be the pivotal moment. I’ll have to come back, but it will be I have Han Solo in my crosshairs and I’ll be about to kill him or about to kill the Princess or about to kill somebody that we care about. It’s an old cornball movie, like World War II movies."
An episode, many have been quick to note, on which he appeared alongside none other than...J.J. Abrams, now his Episode VII director. With us having hard evidence of Abrams being pitched the idea, then (the below image is quite literally him watching Hamill suggest it)...
...it seems entirely possible that some variation of the twist could have made its way into the upcoming sequel.
Is There Another Option, Though?
The only problem with a twist of that sort, of course, is that pretty much every fan (and their great aunt) will likely have seen it coming. After all, the apparent absence of Luke from all the trailers thus far would seem to be teasing something pretty major involving the legendary Jedi - making the reveal that he'd turned to the Dark Side less a 'I am your father' moment, and more an 'I'm Khan' kind of deal. Nice to see, but not likely to send us out of the theater with an existential crisis on our hands.
An alternative, then, would be for the identity of Kylo Ren - whose uncovered face we still haven't seen, it's worth noting - to carry some of the sting of that same twist, while allowing the potential conversion of Luke to the Dark Side to act as a red herring. Could he, perhaps, prove to be a Junior Skywalker - but, rather than Han and Leia's son, turned away from the light (as we saw in the now non-canon Expanded Universe), be Luke's?
An abandoned baby Skywalker, taking up his grandfather's mantle to get revenge on the father who (perhaps unwittingly) spurned him? It'd certainly be one hell of a twist...