Alright. Time to set the record straight.
Look, we know you guys are curious about Luke’s role in The Force Awakens. We are too. He wasn’t in the poster, he’s only had one ambiguous shot in the trailers, and there hasn’t been one official promotional shot of his character. So, because we haven’t seen him, everyone is naturally assuming there will be a story twist involving his character.
And everyone, for some reason, is thinking that twist involves being turned to the dark side.
First, it was a big rumor that Luke was actually Kylo Ren. There was so much evidence against that theory we pretty easily debunked it. Now, everyone is just saying Luke is evil and will be a bad guy in the new trilogy. In fact, there’s a Huffington Post article circulating with an argument for this very theory.
And we’re here to tell you it’s all a load of poppycock.
Alright Mr. Know-it-all, if you know oh-so-much, tell us why this theory is wrong.
First and foremost, we want to acknowledge the arguments in the Huffington Post article, which boil down to:
- The cave scene in The Empire Strikes Back foreshadowed his turn to the dark side.
- The fact that Mark Hamill originally pitched a version of Return of the Jedi where Luke turned evil.
- Luke actually did brush the dark side pretty hard in Return of the Jedi.
- They also claim that Luke was lying to the Emperor about “Never turning to the dark side” in Return of the Jedi in an attempt to move in for the kill. But that is speculation with no basis in fact to support it.
First and foremost, the cave scene was foreshadowing quite a bit… but it wasn’t to say Luke will turn to the dark side, but rather he could.
When Vader’s helmet explodes and Luke sees his own face underneath, a dramatic moment is set up that accomplishes two things:
- It sets up the reveal that Vader is Luke’s father, as that vision characterizes what happened in Anakin’s past just as much as it could Luke’s future. It’s the same reason we see the back of Vader’s head in another part of the film, just in case anyone thought he was a robot.
- To show Luke that not everything is black and white. That the greatest good and the greatest evil really aren’t that far apart, and striving for one can very easily lead to the other. But, again, that doesn’t mean it WILL happen. If anything, this helps Luke have a more nuanced view of the Force rather than the “narrow, dogmatic view of the Jedi.”
As for what Mark Hamill wanted for the character, it’s very true he wanted a dark Luke. And, as the Huffington Post article points out… that’s kinda what he got. Luke was pretty dark in Return of the Jedi. He was choking Gamorrean guards, threatening Jabba with death, and even tried to strike down the Emperor in cold blood.
And then Luke woke the hell up.
All that darkness led to one moment: attacking Vader in anger, beating him back, and then cutting his hand off. That’s when, when looking at his own cybernetic hand, Luke realized just where the dark side would lead him. There’s a clear “moment of clarity” Luke is having here, not a “this isn’t working, so I need to change tactics” moment. Luke’s real life has caught up with his vision in the cave, and he finally understands what that vision means and how to avoid the trap his father fell into.
Which is why Luke throws his weapon away. It’s a moment of pacifist defiance. If Luke really wanted to use that moment to kill the most powerful Force user in the galaxy, he wouldn’t have thrown his primary weapon away. You know, the one that could absorb Force lightning. If anything, he would have thrown the lightsaber at the Emperor.
If Luke was faking the line “I am a Jedi… like my father before me,” then the movie was cheating the audience with insincerity. That isn’t Star Wars’ style, because it makes Luke being zapped and Vader sacrificing his life to save him out of love meaningless.
But, more than anything, we’re forgetting Luke’s primary goal in Return of the Jedi: saving the soul of his father. More than once in the film, Luke is telling Vader he can “feel the good in him” and to “let go of your hate!”
Luke’s on a mercy mission for Vader, which is what he ultimately accomplishes.
What if Luke turned to the Dark Side after Return of the Jedi?
Well, it’s possible, but everything we’ve seen from Luke after Return of the Jedi has him being a pretty okay guy. In fact, his appearance in Star Wars: Shattered Empire (which is considered the same level of canon as the movies), has him literally saving trees:
Hardly the work of a Sith Lord.
Furthermore, having Luke become a bad guy between trilogies is just bad writing. Yes, there’s plenty of story you could get from that, but to have a character do a complete reversal of the emotional arc he had in his last appearance for the sake of plot twists is just lazy. That’s what we in the writing business call “character assassination.” We’re not saying the new movies won’t have Luke turn evil, but if he does they’ll show the progression.
Plus, the leaked photo of Luke has him wearing white robes. In Star Wars, if you’re wearing white and you’re not a stormtrooper… you’re a good guy. That’s just how it works.
So, the reason for all the secrecy surrounding Luke? Because they want his appearance to be a surprise. The rumored story for the movie has a lot to do with the search for Luke Skywalker. If that’s true… why spoil the fun of his reveal in a trailer?
Note: All screencaps in this article were taken from starwarsscreencaps.com.