“No one forgot about him!” director J.J. Abrams promises. “We were hoping people would care, but there are a lot of things that are not on the poster, as busy as the poster is. Certainly Luke is a very important aspect of the story.”
That question, Where is Luke?, is one the movie is going to answer. So it can’t very well tell you up front.
A similar question is actually the thing that made Abrams say yes to directing the film. “In the context of talking about story and laying out what we were thinking, I said one thing to him: ‘Who is Luke Skywalker?’” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told EW in August.
She said she couldn’t elaborate any further on what that question means, but you can read any number of things into it. And all of them may be true.
Who is Luke Skywalker? Is he really the person we thought we knew? Did crude Jedi training and the emotional and physical scars of battle, not to mention learning that a galactic tyrant was his father, take a toll that warped the pie-eyed farmboy who longed for adventure?
Was Yoda right about him being impulsive and impatient? “If you end your training now – if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did – you will become an agent of evil.” Return of the Jedi seemed to prove Yoda wrong. Vader turned, the Emperor was destroyed, and balance – whatever that means – seemed to have been brought to the Force.
But what if Yoda was the misguided warrior, bent by cynicism from his years of fighting the good fight? What if Luke was more noble than the little green guy gave him credit for? It’s possible Luke is engaged in an act of dedication and self-sacrifice that has estranged him from his friends and loved ones, however much they miss him.
None of these are things Abrams will discuss now. Again, only the film itself will answer those questions.
But he will talk about another implication of the thing that drew him in: “Who is Luke Skywalker?” Like, who?
In the Oct. 19 trailer, Han Solo tells Rey and Finn: “It’s all true. The Dark Side. The Jedi. All of it.” And they listen like teenagers being told the Tooth Fairy is real. If it seems implausible that a war hero could be forgotten so quickly, try asking the average 20-year-old who Audie Murphy was. Hell, ask a 40-year-old and see what you get.