The theory that Luke Skywalker’s turned to the dark side is all bantha poodoo
December isn’t very far away now and fanboys across the internet are eagerly awaiting the return of Star Wars.
It’s been ten years since the release of Episode Three brought an end to the prequel trilogy, and fans are ready for another piece of glorious Jedi action.
Throughout all the hype, though, one key face is nowhere to be seen. While many of the heroes of the Original Trilogy, including Han, Chewbacca, and Leia, have now been seen on screen, looking distinguished and battle worn. However, fans are tittering over Luke Skywalker missing in action.
To make things more confusing, Luke is also missing from the official movie poster, although Mark Hamill’s name is listed in the credits at the bottom.
The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams has made it clear that one of the new film’s big draws for him as a creator is the question, ‘Who is Luke Skywalker?’, which has led to speculation that everyone’s favorite farm boy plays a pivotal if controversial role in the upcoming movie.
Many fans have begun to speculate that perhaps, rather than filling the expected role of mentor to the new heroes, Luke is the villain of the movie – perhaps Luke is none other than Kylo Ren, the dark, masked figure from the trailers.
This is a compelling theory. It’s also hogwash.
The Argument For Darth Luke
The argument is that, rather than being absent from promotional materials, Luke is hiding in plain sight under a Sith mask.
This is the kind of sneaky bait-and-switch marketing tricks that Abrams is known for. After the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Abrams admitted to have deliberately lied about the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in an attempt to avoid spoilers.
The way Abrams attempted to sneak Kahn past us has led many fans to suspect that, as Luke isn’t on display in any promotional materials, he may well be hiding under Kylo Ren’s evil mask.
It would certainly be a twist, although not an unexpected one – the last time Luke Skywalker appeared in a Star Wars movie, he was renouncing the dark side, albeit after a fairly difficult internal struggle.
The Narrative Argument
The end of Return of the Jedi is exactly why, from a storytelling perspective, it’d be suicide to start a new trilogy with an evil Luke.
Luke Skywalker is probably one of the more iconic heroes in cinematic history. In Return of the Jedi, he suffered temptation to do evil, before ultimately choosing to remain on the side of the heroes – a choice which helped to redeem his father, arguably the most iconic villain of the silver screen.
Starting a new trilogy with an evil Luke would destroy the previously satisfying completion of his story arc in the first three movies.
For the most part, Hollywood has learned its lesson about starting a new movie by destroying everything that people loved about the last one (Alien 3’s early murder of most of the surviving Aliens characters is a good example of something moviemakers now strive to avoid).
The Fan Anger Argument
Beyond the importance of good storytelling, JJ Abrams has another reason not to mess with characters’ motivations: the potential threat to his safety.
When in the previous Expanded Universe of novels, video games and comic books, the decision was made to kill of Chewbacca (this story, along with the rest of the EU, has been abandoned by Disney), the writer who penned the wookiee’s demise actually received death threats from angry fans.
Considering the backlash that diehard fans generated regarding a novel, it’s safe to assume that portraying Luke Skywalker as anything other than a hero in the upcoming movie is likely to anger a lot of fans, and draw attention away from the rest of the movie.
The Toystore Argument
There’s also, of course, a very mercenary reason for Luke to appear as a goodie-two-shoes: Disney can sell more action figures that way.
If Luke is Kylo Ren, fans of all ages will only need one figure to complete their collection of heroes and villains from the new movie. If Luke is his own man, there are two figures to buy instead of one.
Disney knows the value of a good toy deal better than anyone, and considering how the Star Wars empire is pretty much built on merchandise sales, they’re not going to let this opportunity pass them by.
The Deja Vu Argument
Now, it is true that there is a precedent for Luke turning evil. In one of the Expanded Universe comic strips which Disney have thrown out, Luke went back on his earlier character development by giving in to the dark side and joining a clone of the Emperor (comics were weird back in the day).
This, it’s generally considered, was a narrative misstep, and one that was fairly quickly reversed, although it did give Leia the chance to be super cool and saving her brother from the dark side the way he’d saved Darth Vader.
That said, Disney have ditched the Expanded Universe for a reason, and it’s unlikely that they’ll borrow too heavily from old comics so soon. In fact, it makes sense to stay as far away from the comics’ portrayal of Luke as possible for the first new movie.
The Handy Argument
Aside from all this, there is one big piece of evidence suggesting that Luke isn’t actually Kylo Ren – his hand.
In two trailers that we’ve seen so far, a hooded figure is seen touching Artoo – a figure who, while wearing a dark cloak, is wearing a white robe, and a robotic hand.
R2D2 is not a character who suffers evil lightly. There’s a reason the spunky little droid wound up with the rebellion rather than staying at Anakin’s side after he became Darth Vader – more so than Luke, more than Han or Leia or even Yoda, the droids of the Star Wars franchise are the embodiment of good.
For this reason, an evil Luke could not place his robotic hand upon Artoo. There would be no reason for the two characters to be in the same place at the same time.
The Media Hype Argument
So, then, why isn’t Luke’s face in any of the promotional materials? Some argue that Luke might be scarred, or that there’s something physically different about him which would make his appearance shocking.
There is, of course, a simpler explanation. It’s entirely possible that Luke is missing from promo materials for Episode VII in order to get people talking. If this is the case, congratulations should be sent to JJ Abrams, because he’s psyched us out again.
Abrams has said that Luke is deliberately missing from the trailers, so it’s pretty clear that this is an intended move to get fans talking – one that’s most decidedly worked.
No matter the fan speculation as to why we haven’t seen Luke, one thing’s for certain: the decision not to include him in promotional material was definitely made with the expectation that it would drive up hype for the movie.
While it remains to be seen whether this is the only reason why Luke’s MIA, and as compelling as the arguments that he’s turned dark might be, this is probably more a clever marketing ploy than a reflection of Luke’s place in the galaxy.
But what are your thoughts about the controversy? Do you have a compelling piece of evidence that nobody’s spotted yet? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.