We're agonisingly close now to [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158)' release, and the hype has only been fueled by the third trailer. But while every second of the trailer is dissected, the hottest topic of discussion is rather what was eliminated from all the marketing so far. In other words, just where the hell is Luke Skywalker?!
While theories about Luke crowd the internet, J.J. Abrams is smugly deflecting all questions about the character. The only thing he will tell us is that yes, Luke Skywalker's absence from the trailer was entirely deliberate (obviously). As Slate pointed out, Abrams does love his mystery boxes, and it looks like Luke Skywalker's fate will be stubbornly elusive until Star Wars 7 is released.
But do we already know what path Luke Skywalker will take? There's a very very strong case for evil Luke Skywalker, and the evidence is really piling up in favour of this idea. But how likely is it?
Luke is set to play a pivotal role, and that Abrams is really looking forward to challenging what we think we know about the character.
Apparently, he wasn't interested in directing Star Wars 7 until this question was posed to him by producer Kathleen Kennedy, as Entertainment Weekly revealed...
Kennedy persuaded him to helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens by asking a simple question, one with the potential to upend our core beliefs about the galaxy far, far away. “‘Who is Luke Skywalker?’”
Abrams decided he needed to know the answer, even if he had to devise it himself. “He said, ‘Oh my God, I just got the chills. I’m in,’” Kennedy says. “I mean, it really was almost that quickly.”
Of course, Abrams might just present a Luke Skywalker that we expect: older, wiser, looking to train more Jedi and reform the old Jedi Order. But we've already seen this version of Luke in the Expanded Universe. The other option would be to reveal a Luke Skywalker who has slowly succumbed to the Dark Side... so let's count down the hints we've had that Luke will turn evil in Star Wars 7...
The Case For Evil Luke
The best case to be made for evil Luke is definitely from his journey in the original trilogy, specifically Return Of The Jedi.
There's been a lot of buzz about Return Of The Jedi recently, as the original ending featured Luke turning to the Dark Side (only to be inevitably redeemed, possibly by Leia saving the day). This has been the subject of much discussion lately, especially with Mark Hamill's fierce advocation of Luke turning bad...
"As an actor that would be more fun to play. I just thought that’s the way it was going from when we finished [Empire]. 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."
If Mark Hamill is to be believed, Luke turning to the Dark Side is not only possible, it's very likely... And of course, there's the deleted scene from Return Of The Jedi that foreshadows Luke turning bad - check out his lightsaber go from red to green at 1:29!
This scene was probably intended to foreshadow his turn to the Dark Side: after all, at this point in the movies the only reason we knew for the lightsabers' colour was the wielders' Force allegiance. There are plenty of Dark Side hints that weren't cut from the movies: Yoda is convinced that unless Luke completes his training, he'll be too emotional when he confronts Darth Vader.
"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's a very interesting theory that posits that this is exactly what happened in Return Of The Jedi, as his characterisation was sterner, making threats to destroy enemies. Ultimately this comes to a head in the final battle, when Luke's emotions almost prevent him from defeating the Emperor. If we look at Luke's journey this way, then he's already a Dark Jedi, and The Force Awakens will reveal just how far to the Dark Side Luke has gone.
So it seems that the interpretation of Luke's journey in Return Of The Jedi determines what path he takes after the original trilogy ended. But we've already seen one outcome of this, which might debunk the idea of evil Luke completely...
New Jedi Order & Dark Empire
The Expanded Universe has covered a lot of plot possibilities, and it's difficult to predict which ones, if any, Star Wars 7 will use. The Luke we see in the Expanded Universe is an interesting one: wiser but ultimately still quite snarky, Luke isn't an Obi Wan type figure, or a Dark Side acolyte, but something completely different.
This interpretation of Luke's character definitely doesn't follow the Return Of The Jedi Dark Side theory: in this version of the story, Luke values compassion and emotional attachments as they are what drove him to defy Yoda's warnings and save his father. Luke decides to start a new Jedi Order which reforms the rules of the old one, stressing how dangerous it can be to completely reject personal attachments. Of course, Luke does go a bit dark later on, in the Dark Empire comic arc...
Following on from Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy of books, Dark Empire featured Luke temporarily turning to the Dark Side before returning to the Light. This is definitely a plotline we could see explored in Star Wars 7 but this depends on how willing Abrams is to repeat past stories... and that really seems unlikely, especially considering how the prequels featured a Skywalker turning bad.
So what's the verdict for evil Luke in The Force Awakens? It's definitely possible, but I'm willing to bet that it's not going to be that simple. As evidenced by Finn's moral conundrum in the trailer, we're definitely going to see a story that challenges the boundaries of good and evil, and no character is better to do that with than Luke Skywalker. It's likely we'll see a Luke that defies expectations, keeping the audience (and the main characters) guessing until the very last minute.
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