As we draw closer to the release of [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158), fan speculation has just got fiercer. The third trailer only fed this fire, posing many more questions that fans are desperate to be the first to guess the answer to. And Luke Skywalker is persistently absent even in the fourth trailer which was just released to Japan! This is probably the most intriguing (and frustrating) puzzle of them all. Some fans think they might have solved this mystery, by claiming that Skywalker was hiding in plain sight... as Kylo Ren!
There's pretty much no evidence in any of the trailers to suggest this, and actually no evidence overall unless you count the fact that Kylo Ren has clear similarities to Darth Vader. This theory has actually been talked about since the initial announcement of Kylo Ren's character, and has risen up again recently thanks to Luke Skywalker's absence from the Star Wars 7 marketing.
And honestly, it doesn't seem very believable. We've had plenty of evidence to suggest that the two are completely separate characters, but beyond that, the role of Skywalker in previous films gives us a very good idea of how he'll be used in The Force Awakens...
Kylo & Luke: The Facts
Before we get into some more meta-analysis of the films, let's take a look at the cold hard facts that debunk the Luke-is-Kylo-Ren theory. First of all, Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren. This has been stated and re-stated since the casting announcement, and especially became clear in this interview with J.J. Abrams where he gushes about how Driver brought the role of Kylo Ren to life.
If you're not convinced, here's a picture of Kylo Ren unmasked...
Contrasted with a leaked picture of Luke Skywalker, who is clearly channelling Obi Wan Kenobi in his fashion choices...
If you're still not convinced, it's worth mentioning that all the shots we've had of Kylo Ren in the trailer match Adam Driver's physique rather than Mark Hammil's, and in Kylo's battle with Finn, we can see that the villain towers over John Boyega... who is the same height as Mark Hamill (both 1.75m).
So yeah, Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren, which seems to debunk the theory in and of itself. And honestly, it seems as though Kylo Ren as a separate character to Luke is far more compelling: as Abrams teased, Kylo's journey in Star Wars 7 will be crucial to the plot...
"He is not your typical mustache-twirling bad guy. He is a little bit more complex than that, and it was a great joy to work with Adam Driver on this role, because he threw himself into it in a deep and remarkable way."
But if you're still not convinced, then let's take a more in depth look at the roles of the characters themselves.
Luke Is Already A Dark Jedi?
Kylo Ren theory aside, many fans are arguing that the Luke Skywalker we see in Star Wars 7 actually will be a Dark Jedi, or at least be a much darker version of the character than we've seen before. This idea has a lot of different potential outcomes and interpretations, but to continue the idea that Luke is already dark in The Force Awakens, this theory argues that he actually turned to the Dark Side before Return Of The Jedi.
It's a compelling argument, and hinges on the fact that Yoda warned Luke that if he didn't complete his training, he would be too emotional when he faced Vader and would turn to the Dark Side.
"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."
The theory states that this already happened at the end of Empire Strikes Back, as the Luke we see in Return Of The Jedi is much grimmer, threatening to destroy everyone in Jabba's palace if he doesn't get his friends back. This is a fair point, but it pretty much ignores the entire point of Luke's character... and Yoda's real plan to defeat Vader!
Luke As Vader's Redeemer
Here's where we get a bit meta, so bear with me. There's a theory that argues that Luke was never intended as Darth Vader's assassin and honestly, it makes a lot of sense. If Yoda and Obi Wan wanted Luke to grow up to kill Vader, the best way to do that would be to train him (or Leia) from birth as a Jedi Warrior with the strength to defeat the Sith duo of the Emperor and Vader. But that's not what Yoda's training focuses on at all: when Luke eventually seeks Yoda out, his training is far more about the spiritual connection to the Force than attack maneuvers.
But why would Yoda not want to train give Luke battle training? Because he was never meant to kill Darth Vader, but rather to use his emotional connection with his father to destroy the Sith completely.
Obi Wan pretty much points out this possibility...
"The Emperor knew, as I did, if Anakin were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him."
After all, if Yoda and Obi Wan sent an assassin to kill Vader, it's likely that Palpatine would just start training another Sith apprentice (the EU actually suggests that Mara Jade was already lined up for this role).
So what does all this mean for Star Wars 7? Well crucially, it means that if Luke went bad anyway and became Kylo Ren this would undermine the entire point of the original trilogy. It's possible we'll see a version of Luke that isn't totally good, and actually there's a lot of evidence to suggest he'll be far more morally ambiguous than that, as Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggested...
"The themes and ideas that we all continue to talk about are the themes and ideas that were the inherent in the original movies. We’re looking, obviously, for aspiration, for characters who are conflicted between good and evil, dark and light."
So it seems we'll see a conflicted Luke Skywalker, but totally Dark Side Luke really doesn't seem likely when we examine the evidence.
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