It's been several weeks since Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens was released, and we're still reeling from the film's revelations. While #TheForceAwakens did give us some clues as to why Luke Skywalker is missing, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding Luke's journey.
In a new interview with EW, co-writers Michael Arndt and J. J. Abrams have shed some light on this issue. But the real reason for Luke Skywalker's absence might not be what you'd expect...
Warning: you know the drill, there's spoilers ahead. If you haven't seen Star Wars 7 yet then what are you waiting for? Go see it now! And check back here afterwards.
A New Journey
The Force Awakens was produced pretty quickly for such an immense blockbuster: pre-production began in late 2012, with script writers Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt, and J. J. Abrams brainstorming most of the ideas that would be incorporated in the film. Unfortunately, because of the time constraint, Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt dropped out in 2013. J. J. Abrams explained Arndt's impact on the story to io9...
"I know I want this young woman to be at the center of this thing. I know I want this Stormtrooper to abandon his post. There are just fundamental tenets of what we had come up with [with Arndt] that were gonna stick."
Luke Skywalker's involvement in the story, or lack thereof, was decided early on. At first, Luke was going to be a big part of The Force Awakens's story, teaming up with Rey and helping her to defeat Kylo Ren. But as Michael Arndt explains, this would have been a huge mistake for the story.
"It just felt like every time Luke entered the movie, he just took it over. Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character anymore because, ‘Oh fuck, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do'."
Essentially, Luke Skywalker didn't have a leading role in Star Wars Episode 7, because he would have upstaged Rey... and Han Solo too.
The Jedi Path
The character to suffer most from Luke Skywalker's early involvement would have been Rey. Finn is probably the most original character of The Force Awakens: a defecting Stormtrooper, his struggle is one we've never encountered in Star Wars before. Rey is a budding Jedi, a young Force sensitive woman on the path to discover her latent abilities. In many ways, this makes her The Force Awakens's answer to Luke Skywalker himself.
If she had teamed up with Luke early on, she would have been sidelined to become his apprentice, rather than the hero of the story. As the original trilogy's main protagonist, Luke has a huge pull with the audience: Arndt is right, we want to know what's going on with him in The Force Awakens (and we still do!)
But Rey's journey is too important to be overshadowed: her slow discovery of her powers is one of the driving forces of Star Wars 7, as we are introduced to a new generation of heroes. The film climaxes as Rey, still mourning for her mentor's death, uses the Force in her battle against Kylo Ren. Luke got the opportunity to use the Force on his own in A New Hope, after Obi Wan died...
Eliminating Luke Skywalker from Star Wars 7 also sets up Episode 8 beautifully: we can look forward to seeing Rey hone her abilities thanks to Luke's training. This will neatly parallel Supreme Leader Snoke teaching Kylo Ren, as promised.
"Find Kylo Ren and bring him to me. It's time for him to complete his training."
Having Rey be a hero on her own merit is of crucial importance when we consider how few female action protagonists there are. So from that point of view, eliminating Luke Skywalker was essential. But there's one other character Luke would have eclipsed...
Han Solo's Final Stand
Han Solo had an interesting role in The Force Awakens. Floating somewhere between mentor and a protagonist in his own right, Han Solo teamed up with Finn and Rey early on, providing a nostalgic link to the original trilogy.
So what would have happened if Luke came into the story early on? Yes, there would have been the reunion scene between Han and Luke which we now won't get to see (ouch), but The Force Awakens would have become too much of a repeat of A New Hope. Han Solo deserved to have the leading legacy role, with as much focus on the impact of his death as possible. (Having said that, more from General Leia would have been nice...)
- How Star Wars 7's Rey Smashed The Mary Sue Trope
- Will Han Solo Appear In Star Wars Episode 8?
- Kylo Ren Is A Better Villain Than Darth Vader (No, Really)
Ultimately, the decision to push Luke's entrance to the very end of the story allowed other characters like Rey and Han Solo to shine. Which is pretty awesome. And now we have even more reasons to look forward to Episode 8!