There is a fan theory gaining ground on the internet that Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker will be evil in the new Star Wars trilogy. We hope it’s true.
Darth Vader’s son will have fallen to the dark side in The Force Awakens (episode VII), or so the theory suggests.
The basis for the conjecture is shaky. Mark Hamill has second billing in the official movie poster, but his face has appeared nowhere in the promotional material (save for his bionic hand resting on R2D2 in a trailer). Fans wondered: why hide his face?
Some thought the film’s villain, Kylo Ren, would be revealed as Luke’s alter ego, but this seems to have been debunked by the newest trailer. Disney have also released a photo of Hamill in light brown Jedi robes, though this could well be deliberate misdirection.
For all the evidence to the contrary, Vader’s son could still be tempted by evil, if not in episode VII, then later in the series.
There is certainly precedent for an evil Luke. In the Dark Empire comic book series, he falls to darkness, but is eventually redeemed.
George Lucas reportedly toyed with a darker ending. In the final scene of Return of the Jedi, Luke was to have pulled off his dead father’s helmet and declared “Now I am Vader”.
Could JJ Abrams be going down this path?
He should, because Hamill is made for this role. His strongest scenes of the original movies were in Jedi. Clad in black, worldly-wise and deadly, this vengeful Skywalker was far more enjoyable than the bubbly, fresh-faced acolyte of the first two.
In later years, Hamill further established himself as the villain. In Slipstream (1989), as a badass bounty hunter. In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), as the greatest Joker until Heath Ledger, with a bone-chilling maniacal laugh. And as the deranged super villain Trickster in the 1990s and 2014.
Hamill has even voiced Darth Bane in The Clone Wars animated series, who tempts Master Yoda to join the dark side.
Chris Brennan, director of the Star Wars Appreciation Society of Australia (Starwalking Inc), said one of the most appealing aspects of Luke’s character was his constant struggle with inner demons. He predicted at least a “darker” Skywalker in the new movies.
“He starts out as the innocent farm boy that dreams of high adventure, then has to face the fact that daddy is the ultimate symbol of evil,” Mr Brennan said.
“His struggle with the idea that perhaps he could be ‘just like daddy” is what gives him an inner strength that helps him face his demons in Jedi.
“It would stand to reason that Luke’s turmoil has continued through the years, but I very much doubt that he would have gone completely over to the dark side — unless some catastrophic event has pushed him over the brink, as we saw with Anakin in Revenge of the Sith.”
Perhaps Luke will reach such a tipping point in episodes VII through IX.
Uber-fan Neal Maidment, who has read more than 100 Star Wars books, said it was “certainly possible” that Hamill’s Skywalker could be evil.
“They’ve gone to great pains to keep Luke out of the trailers and artwork, which has been an interesting tactic to keep fans guessing,” Mr Maidment said.
“I had never considered the likelihood of this until the latest trailer got the rumour mill turning, but I would now not be surprised if it was revealed that Luke had fallen to the dark side.
“Star Wars loves its call-backs to previous ideas, themes and even quotes, and so does JJ Abrams, notably in Star Trek Into Darkness, so setting up a three-film redemption arc for fallen hero Luke, echoing Vader’s story from the earlier films, would be in keeping with what we’ve seen before.”
Such a twist would no doubt disappoint many fans, who have always known Luke as destroyer of the Death Star and saviour of the universe.
“I think a lot of fans would feel cheated to think that Luke, the hero of the Rebellion, and one of cinema’s iconic good guys, would fall to the dark side,” Mr Maidment said.
Another ardent fan, Garrett Wells, said he would prefer Luke to remain as a Jedi, but said it would make for good cinema if he were tempted to fall.
“Me personally, I’d like to see him stay light, but it might be interesting to see an older Luke faced with the temptation to turn dark, in a similar vein as he was in Return of the Jedi.
“Like anything, there are fans out there who would love it and there are fans out there who would be heartbroken. I guess it all depends which side, Jedi or Sith, you’re cheering for.”
For this fan, the most fulfilling storyline would be a Luke Skywalker forced to turn evil in order to save the universe by embracing the full power of the Force, as perhaps only Dark Siders can. Perhaps in order to destroy the Knights of Ren – an ancient order that could predate the Sith.
The greatest proof this might happen is Hamill himself always wanted Luke to become evil, and thus may have tried to convince Disney and Abrams to send his character down the path to darkness.
“As an actor that would be more fun to play,” he told an interviewer (video below), while Abrams listened.
We can only hope Hamill succeeded, for nothing could be better than a black-robed Skywalker soaking hordes of baddies in lightning bolts before turning back to the light.