With the anticipation rising for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and trailers/tv spots revealing more and more information by the day, one question remains shrouded in mystery: Where is Luke Skywalker? Mark Hamill has confirmed his involvement with Episode VII and yet we’ve seen neither hide nor hare of Luke anywhere in the promos outside of seeing the actor himself sporting a beard similar to that of his deceased mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Clearly, Skywalker’s involvement in the film is being held under lock and key until the movie’s release date itself, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do some speculating of our own!
When we left Luke Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi, the Empire had been defeated, his father redeemed, and the Emperor tossed down a hole to never trouble the Rebel Alliance again. After burning his father's body on the planet Endor, Luke saw visions of Anakin and Yoda smiling wistfully as the “Star Wars” had come to an end. In the Star Wars Extended Universe, Luke had decades of further adventures under his belt, though with Episode VII, those tales have been thrown out the window so Luke’s situation is still anyone’s guess. Here, we’ll take the chance to walk through some of the possibilities of not only his involvement in Episode 7, but Episode 8 as well.
First, there’s the predictable yet satisfying route that Luke has become something of a hermit much like Obi-Wan, living on Tatooine or some other desolated planet to escape the hustle and bustle of the everyday world. This route would fit with his appearance, though it’s questionable if he’s still a practicing Jedi. From the trailers we’ve seen, the Jedi and the Sith have once again faded into legend. Through this, we can assume that Luke isn’t putting together a large army of Jedi to replace those lost in Palpatine’s wake. As the title of the film suggests, the Force may have been dormant for quite some time until only recently awakening. Perhaps Luke didn’t even have access to it during the decades following Episode VI and is shocked to find himself once again connected to it.
All signs are pointing to John Boyega’s Finn being the one to pick up the lightsaber for a new generation, so maybe Luke takes the role of mentor in the same vein as Yoda did to him so long ago. Finn will need someone to teach him how to use the Force, and with Jedi in few and far supply, Luke seems like the best candidate. Still, his role may be somewhat limited in comparison to the rest of the cast, dropping into scenes sparingly to pull the new gang out of a jam. Luke’s powers may be in a completely different stratosphere at this point however, as Force powers have certainly only gained strength over the years in all aspects of the Star Wars universe. Of course, absolute power corrupts absolutely…
On the other side of the spectrum, Luke may in fact turn out to be one of the villains of the picture! With Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma taking the spotlight, how ironic would it be for Luke to take the role of Palpatine in this new Empire? Luke was visually darker in during his last appearance in Episode 6, and it’s easy to believe that he may very well continue down that path. Maybe reaching a level of power within the force means that it’s all the easier to fall under the sway of the Dark Side?
Even though Hamill is returning as Luke in Episode VIII, who's to say that he needs to be alive? Much like Yoda and his father, he could appear as a spectre of the Force himself, watching over the Jedi who remain. Food for thought. I’m anxious to see how Skywalker enters the game once again but rest assured, Episode VII promises to bring the old gang, and the new, rip roaring to screens this December.