One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens doesn't involve one of the new characters, but orbits around perhaps the best known character of the entire series: Luke Skywalker.
The return of Mark Hamill to the franchise was, of course, big news when it was announced, but since then, we have learned precious little about his role in the new trilogy. However, according to J.J. Abrams, the enigma surrounding Luke Skywalker in the real world seemingly mirrors his reputation in the fictional one too. He told Entertainment Weekly:
It was the thing that struck me the hardest, which was the idea that doing a story that took place nearly 40 years after Jedi meant that there would be a generation for whom Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia would be as good as myth. They’d be as old and as mythic as the tale of King Arthur. They would be characters who they may have heard of, but maybe not. They’d be characters who they might believe existed, or just sounded like a fairy tale.
Although 40 years might not seem like a long time, you have to remember the Star Wars universe is a rather massive place. Over such a large distance, those 40 years can seem like millennia, turning real people into myths. For example, Abrams explains Daisy Ridley's character, Rey, has likely only heard legends about Skywalker. He continues:
“To someone who is living alone and struggling without a formal education or support system, who knows what that person in the literal middle of nowhere would have ever heard about any of these things, or would ever know, and how much that person would have to infer and piece together on their own. So the idea that someone like that would begin to learn that the Jedi were real, and that the Force exists, and that there’s a power in the universe that sounds fanciful but is actually possible, was an incredibly intriguing notion.”
Of course, this was something referenced in the latest Star Wars: Episode VII trailer:
However, there's of course two sides to every story, and it seems the First Order has some legends of their own about Skywalker. Whereas his supporters perhaps see him as a messianic hero, the bad guys have wasted the opportunity to vilify Skywalker for future generations. John Boyega, who plays Stormtrooper-turned-good-guy Finn, explains how his character was brought up with different tales about the Rebellion.
“For Finn, he’s been raised from the ashes of the Empire. He’s been taught about Luke Skywalker, he knows about his history. For him it’s like joining the army and then learning about one of the great enemies of your country. It has that effect on him. But in terms of the Force, and the magical stuff that happens, that is the point where Finn kind of questions what is what. What is the Force, what part does Luke Skywalker play in all of this?”
At this late stage, I can imagine we won't find out any more about Skywalker until The Force Awakens is in theaters, and to be honest, I'm not sure I want to know. Luke Skywalker's story could turn out to be one of the more interesting and mysterious elements of the entire new franchise. That's hardly something I want spoiled.