When Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hits theaters, fans will discover what happened to Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill is confirmed to reprise his role in the new flick, but his image doesn’t appear on any of its promotional materials and is only glimpsed in one trailer. As Vulture reported earlier this month, that’s led many to assume the hero of the original trilogy has taken a trip to the dark side.
But recent comments from Mark Hamill about his Force Awakens filming experience lend credence to a different theory — that Luke is in a kind of self-imposed exile, unable to control his fluency with the force and of questionable sanity. That theory was first floated by Jason Ward on Making Star Wars back in November of 2014. Ward said his plot information came from people who were working on The Force Awakens.
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) November 4, 2015
Ward summarized the plot twist this way.
“Luke Skywalker has become the most powerful Jedi ever, but he doesn’t believe he’s the wisest. He doesn’t want to make the mistake his father made by thinking he knows what’s right for the universe. Skywalker becomes somewhat deranged in his seclusion. He is consumed by his fear that if he should return to ‘society’ his power could be misused, he could be manipulated, and he may accidentally hurt the ones he loves.
“For these reasons, to protect the galaxy and himself, Luke retreats into self-imposed exile for many years. I’m told he can’t always control the power. While he sits in a meditative state, he levitates things unconsciously and he’s not always in complete control and he’s never sure if he’s doing the will of the Force or acting on his own passions. Luke is seeing the past, the present, the future, ‘old friends long gone’ and other things that prey upon his sanity.”
Vulture explained that fans suspect Luke might not be in seclusion, but rather turned to the dark side, because Skywalker has no character poster for the new film and, unlike original trilogy characters Leia and Han Solo, has not been glimpsed in the new footage that has been released in a series of trailers.
Vulture also notes that in Dark Horse Comics’ Dark Empire series, Luke was turned to the dark side by a clone of Emperor Palpatine and Leia eventually saved him. That plot line, if adopted by the new film, would fit with Carrie Fisher and director J.J. Abrams’ description of Leia’s role being a difficult one in the new movie.
— julien legrand (@Julien9Legrand) August 18, 2015
Mark Hamill, quoted in Empire and posted online by Slash Film last week, seemed to support the self-imposed exile theory. The actor compared his Force Awakens filming experience to when he portrayed Luke Skywalker on the salt flats of Tunisia, which were then the real-life set locations for Skywalker’s home planet of Tattooine.
Hamill said that he could mentally block out the crew and envision being in a “galaxy far, far away,” while filming on Skellig Michael in Ireland, much as he did on the original Star Wars set. That image of an isolated Luke, along with rumors — as noted by Slash Film — that the character is by himself for most of the movie, support the exile theory.
Where is Skellig Michael? It’s a secluded, mountainous island and the site of a monastery abandoned in the 12th century. Entertainment Weekly reported in September that tourism is restricted to protect the area’s ecosystem and historical artifacts. The Irish Times reported in August that permission for Star Wars to film in the location was met with concern from environmentalists.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18, 2015.
[Main photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment]