You knew this was coming. It’s the biggest question on everyone’s mind, as one of our key characters was mysteriously absent from any and all marketing, trailers, promotions, tv spots, etc. for the new movie. Common theories lead to “Luke is in hiding like Obi-Wan was in Star Wars (or “A New Hope” if you’re under the age of 25). That makes sense, and it goes along nicely with one of the other two “controversial” theories. The first that Luke is now evil, and the other is that he “died off camera," like a certain someone in a certain movie that is about a place unkind to senior citizens (hey, I said no “STAR WARS FORCE AWAKENS spoilers”, not “no indirect spoilers for otherwise obscure movies that have been out for over five years”).
Having rewatched the true theatrical cuts and the 1996/1997 special editions in preparation for The Force Awakens and for “Star Wars OT trivia” (which we kicked ass at bt-dubs), I came away with a few notes on the “evil Luke” thing.
Luke following in daddy’s footsteps is heavily foreshadowed throughout the OT (Original Trilogy) as early as his bitching about power converters. Another unpopular opinion that I hold, is that in terms of traditional character archetypes (that would be the: Hero, Villain, Fool, Sidekick, Ingénue (Damsel), Sage, Foil/Rogue, Femme Fatale, Crone, Monster), Luke Skywalker is NOT the main character of Star Wars/A New Hope. He’s actually not the main character of any of these movies and his story or the “Skywalker saga” is irrelevant to the actual star wars themselves.
I know, I know… here’s the part where you think I’m crazy, right? Let’s dive deep and really look at the definitions of these character archetypes and see who fits what. Most stories only use a handful of them, as certain types might not exist/might not be important to that given work.
How can I POSSIBLY make a case for our farmboy “hero” dreaming of Space Nascar, princesses, exploring, and power converters not being the main character, let alone the hero when he’s the one who blows up the Death Star?
I’m glad you asked.
The Hero: The hero or the protagonist is often the main eventer, front and center from the first page. This is someone you admire, someone you want to be, someone you can relate to. This person often has a mysterious origin and a secret past. They risk life and limb to save others at all costs, never faltering from their mission.
The main character of Star Wars is R2-D2, and a case could be made that it transitions later to Obi-Wan, but NEVER Luke Skywalker.
The opening scene depicts a space battle whereupon Darth Vader (The Monster, also NOT the villain) brings an envoy to capture everyone and find the Death Star Plans. Princess Leia (the Femme Fatale) has hidden the plans in none other than R2-D2, a droid with a “mysterious past” who insists he’s served on star ships, belonged to an Obi-Wan Kenobi, and who risks life and limb to complete his mission above all else.
Together with Threepio (the clear FOOL), the droids find themselves in the “care”/ownership of Owen Lars. Threepio is focused on all the tasks given to him and is worried about everything from house morale to moisture vaporators. R2 accidentally plays the message for Luke (his owner), cuts it off and then says “peace” as he runs away, giving no care to being Skywalker/Lars property as he goes off in search of Ben Kenobi (the Sage).
This is a classic case of me cheating ever so slightly, but it fits the narrative. R2D2 can’t exactly talk and he tends to take a LITERAL backseat to the action and to the plot around the time Obi-Wan shows up. We, the viewer, become emotionally invested in Obi-Wan’s story and journey to confront his former student. It hurts us when he dies – saving the lives of everyone else. Here’s what happened. Obi-Wan goes by two names; one that he’s NEVER called in this movie by Luke Skywalker, and one that he’s routinely called by Luke (usually while Luke is whining).
Ben Kenobi is the Sage/Mentor. He teaches Luke and via exposition done right (that’s directed to you Chris Nolan) - the audience in the ways of the Force, lightsabers, Jedi 101, and hints at things that happened previously.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi Knight, takes on R2’s role of the protagonist/main character/the Hero when he does “Obi-Wan things” like deactivating the tractor beam, confronting Vader, and blowing up the Death Star.
Wait… didn’t Luke do THAT? No, silly rabbit. I covered that one already. Read about…here:http://uruniverse.weebly.com/timelines--tangents/great-shot-kid-that-was-one-in-a-million.
Ok, so we’ve covered how Luke SOMEHOW isn’t the “hero” or even the “main character”. Who is he then?
I’m glad you asked. He’s obviously the Ingénue or the Damsel (in this movie anyway).
Han Solo is the Rogue/Foil.
Chewie the Sidekick.
Tarkin the Villain.
Luke is the Damsel, waiting to be saved from a life of boredom and mediocrity, needing to be whisked away on an adventure by a brave knight. “But… I wanted to go to Tashi station and pick up some more power converters,” might as well have been “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”
Back to Luke being evil.
While it’s not really fair to use the Sith Code as a basis to explain the Dark Side in this movie, I’m gonna do it anyway, cause the Sith had the right idea, and it’s completely badass.
“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.”
The mantra as a whole is pretty on the level, but it’s that last line that really brings it home for me. Here’s the wimpy ass misguided Jedi Code as a comparison:
“There is no emotion, only peace.
There is no ignorance, only knowledge.
There is no passion, only serenity.
There is no chaos, only harmony.
There is no death, only The Force.”
I realize how on the nose the inverses are to one another, but let’s examine it and see what they really say, and how it all relates back to Luke and co.
“Peace is a lie there is only passion/ There is no emotion, only peace.”
The glaring concept that jumps out at me right off the bat, is that the Jedi Code is not only a mindset I don’t agree with, it’s outright false. A Sith (them fellows “who only deal in absolutes”) taps into emotion/passion with every fight. Anger seems to make them stronger – much like the Hulk. A Jedi “fights” without emotion, but is this a thing that’s even possible? Let’s examine the Jedi “fights” and how they went, shall we?
Qui-Gon vs Darth Maul: Qui Gon gave us the most possible “emotionless” fight, despite having clear concern for Anakin and Obi-Wan/fear of “holy fuck, i'm fighting a Sith LOOOORD!?!." He remained relatively serene and… got fucking bisected two minutes into it.
Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul: Obi-Wan, having seen his master cut down, gives into blind rage and proceeds to defy the rules of “higher ground," murdering the shit out of Darth Maul.
Dooku vs Anakin round 1: Dooku uses rage, anger, and force lightning to manhandle Anakin, at which point he cuts off his hand. Anakin uses the power of “hiding feelings of love” to… get his hand cut off.
Dooku vs Anakin round 2: Anakin, seeing Obi-Wan incapacitated and wanting “hand vengeance," gives in to blind rage and decapitates Dooku with double sabers.
Even Yoda gives in to anger and intimidation tactics when they make the horrible decision to have Yoda “do things." You can see where this is all going. It’s rage-filled “MY ALLEGIANCE IS TO DEMOCRACY” Obi-Wan that puts an end to Hayden Christensen.
Then there’s Obi-Wan vs Vader in Star Wars/A New Hope, two “old men poking at one another” as Honest Trailers put it. Obi-Wan is concerned for our heroes getting off the Death Star, but he’s completely calm and completely at peace… upon which he gets “killed” effortlessly by Darth Vader. How’s that “fighting with no emotion” thing working out for you guys?
“Through passion I gain strength/there is no ignorance only knowledge.”
I’ll rocket through the rest of these points, as the evidence is fairly one-sided. Every time a dark side (or hell, even a light side person) gives in to anger/passion/feelings, they get a Saiyan level power increase… vs the Jedi in the prequels who don’t know shit about nothing and keep saying “clouded the dark side is, hard to see the future is, know, I don’t lol” sounds pretty fucking “ignorant” to me.
“Through strength, I gain power/There is no passion, only serenity.”
Welp… we covered the power increase thing already, and because the Sith are “not fucking idiots,” they seem to reinforce that main point throughout the rest of their code. “Emotion makes you focused/gives you more powers. Use them,” whereas the Jedi seem to insist there’s no “passion.” How did that work out for DEMOCRACY?
“Through power," yea yea, we get it… There is no chaos, only harmony." Jedi dudes, you really aren’t getting this thing, at all. But, it’s those last two lines that are absolutely key.
“Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me. There is no death, only the Force."
The breaking chains thing is a concept said throughout the saga, usually by Vader. The idea of total annihilation of everyone, friends and foe, guarantees completely freedom. How do you achieve said freedom? By exploiting the shit out of the super powers given to you by the Force, to be the bestest ever, so you could say “rule the Galaxy together as husband and wife,” or even “father and son." The Jedi Code inverse is to make yourself a complete emotionless slave to the Force, letting it dictate life/your actions for you. This is why none of the council can make a fucking decision and have admittedly “lost their ability to use the Force… good."
Back to Luke. From the moment Obi-Wan dies (sorry, “Ben”), from the moment that Ben dies, Luke gives into rage and anger drawing attention and seemingly increasing his Force super powers. In Empire, he is fed up and frustrated while dicking around with Yoda. Which brings us to: “The Cave."
Remember “Luke’s failure at the Cave?” from Empire Strikes Back? This is one of the most glaring overlooked lines of important dialog and exposition EVER uttered. It is also mistaken for “spoiler reveal foreshadowing” by even more people who fuck up the “No, I am your father” line from the same movie. What am I on about now?
While training with Yoda, on Dagobah, Yoda stops and looks worried. Luke walks into a magic cave, where he confronts “Darth Vader.” Effortlessly, Luke cuts off Vader’s head. The facemask on Vader’s helmet explodes, revealing… the face of Luke himself underneath. Millions… hell, probably BILLIONS of people overlooked the genius of Lawrence Kasdan and attributed this to foreshadowing the familial connection between Luke and Vader. That’s all well and good, but it’s entirely wrong. Why wouldn’t actual Vader/Anakin’s face be underneath that mask?
1. The leadup clues you may have missed
In his short time training with Yoda (let’s say anywhere from two weeks to two months), Luke has been trying to do the crash-course in how to be a Jedi. He’s hot shit since “he” blew up the Death Star and he insists that’s not “too old” or “too impatient." Yoda pauses on a stump and Luke becomes fearful.
It’s Luke who says “There’s something not right here. I feel cold, death.”
This should immediately set off our alarm bells that Luke is FEELING the Dark Side. Ok, maybe it’s just mandatory training, and everyone had to face their darkest fears in the magic cave. It’s an old Jedi initiation thing right? It’s really not, as Obi-Wan mentions undertaking the “trials” in Phantom Menace. Even if they skipped this part due to Naboo circumstances, Obi-Wan sure as shit didn’t go to Dagobah with Yoda to the do the tree and the cave thing. And Anakin’s cave training, where was that scene?
Yoda, who unquestionably can feel this place because he’s a Master, starts to show a bit of a Dark Side of his own with his “You will be…” repeater, proclaims, “That place is strong with the Dark Side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. You must go in.”
I’m again ignoring the “YOU” must go in for now, chocking it up to them crazy trials we didn’t see. Luke, trembling with fear, asks “What’s in there?” And Yoda’s alarm bell setting off response is:
“Only what you take with you… your weapons, you will not need them.”
Is it one of those morals about the journey itself being the destination, “Home is where the heart is”? etc. etc. No. I’m gonna put this into Ghostbusters terms here to properly explain it.
When Gozer the Destructor instructs the Ghostbusters to “choose” the form of the Traveler that will bludgeon them to death, Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman delivers another exceptional exposition explanation (an exposnation, if you will). He presents a hypothetical that if he were to think of J. Edgar Hoover, Gozer the Traveler would take the form of J. Edgar Hoover to kill them.
This means that anything Luke saw in the cave, he brought with him. His greatest fear isn’t “Darth Vader," it’s that he will become Darth Vader.
In the Before Times, we didn’t know what Vader looked like or why. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility to believe that like our super powered Darksiders, Vader was SO EVIL, that it ate away his body and turned him into Robocop. It stands to reason Luke would envision a similar fate for himself, were he to turn evil. To “win” this fight, Luke gives in to fear, anger, disgust, pretty much all the bad ones, cutting off “Vader’s” head. Yoda later deems this a “failure."
2. Luke Skywalker, worst student ever
Let’s say “weeks” after the Cave incident, Luke (seemingly more powered-up via unseen montage training) is learning to use Force Sight. Force Sight is anything from seeing the immediate future, to taking a spirit journey through all of space time, to finding out that you DID park in HK-47 in the mall parking garage.
Yoda says “Concentrate. Feel the Force. Yes. Good.. Calm… Yes. Through the Force, things you will see. Other places, the future, the past, old friends long gone.”
Luke attempts this for about four seconds at which point he senses his friends dying/in trouble at Cloud City. He loses focus and drops the rocks he’s levitating, Yoda, and R2. Yoda naturally gets pissed and insists “Control! You must learn control!” Luke latches onto the concept of his friends dying, and wants to change that ASAP. Yoda takes a Terminator and says “Always in motion the future is, hard to see events etc etc.”
Yoda then says something much more important “Decide you must, how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could, but you would destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.”
As painful as it is to admit, the well-being of Han Solo is not “all for which they have fought and suffered.” Nor is “Luke’s hand/Anakin’s lightsaber." What is? The Rebellion itself, and the only way Luke would be able to “help them now, but destroy everything later,” would be to… turn evil?
We cut back to Cloud City and then back to Luke and Yoda. Things are worse than ever, and Luke is impatient/insistent on going. When he says “Han and Leia will die," Obi-Wan Ghost pipes in “you don’t know that! Even Yoda cannot see their fate!”
All the while, Yoda is absolutely pleading with Luke to ignore the vision, stay put, and train properly.
Luke insists that he can “feel the Force!” Obi-Wan’s NEXT line is “But you can’t control it! This is a dangerous time for you! You’ll be tempted by the Dark Side of the Force.” Yoda only then jumps in with “Yes, yes, remember your failure at the cave!”
Call me an overly observant pessimist, but if the situation was “Ricky failed his math test because he didn’t study for it," the clear-cut cause would be “Ricky didn’t study” and the clear-cut effect or outcome would then be “Ricky failed the test."
When Obi Wan says “tempted by the dark side, you can’t control that shit,” and Yoda says “yes, yes, remember your failure at the cave,” that tells me that these events already happened and Yoda doesn’t want a repeat. Luke also doesn’t even begin to try denying any of this as he responds:
“But I’ve learned so much since then!”
Yoda and Obi-Wan further explain that the Emperor wants Luke because of his super powers and lack of control over them. Obi-Wan all but tells him what happened to Vader, and Yoda makes one last hail mary that not only falls on Luke’s deaf ears but the ears of the audience as well.
“Only a FULLY TRAINED Jedi KNIGHT with the Force as his ally will conquer Vader and his Emperor. If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path like Vader did, you will become an AGENT OF EVIL.”
And because we all want him to save Leia… we overlook that he does EXACTLY FUCKING THIS.
Also, for those keeping score at home, Yoda and Mace Windu were most likely the supreme powered Jedi on the Prequel Council. Mace is the one who says directly to Yoda “we don’t have good super powers anymore. We’re like post Cell Games Gohan now.” Yoda and Mace then get their asses destroyed by the Emperor.
The only actual Jedi Knight by the time of A New Hope is Obi-Wan… who uses the Force as his ally to become intangible ghost man.
Obi-Wan lends further credence to my “battle meditation/Force Ghost within Luke” theory by saying “If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone, I cannot interfere,” telling me that he HAD been interfering/been able to interfere in all these other scenes since he “died."
The last thing Obi-Wan says to Luke is “don’t give into hate, that leads to the Dark Side.”
Then Yoda turns to Obi-Wan and he’s all “Leia on deck, we have. Fuck him. Play cards, you wanna?”
This one ran a bit longer than I figured it would and I have two more tangents to write… so to save time, if you need to see examples of “evil Luke,” watch from the above scene to the ending of Return of the Jedi. Jedi opens with Luke all in black, force-choking Gamorreans, threatening Jabba and his opium den with murder, and giving into hatred to try to kill the Emperor.
Everyone naturally assumes that Luke was the hero, because “his lightsaber was green” or something, but that scene when Luke cuts off Vader’s hand and then looks at his own scarred/gloved hand in horror, is him realizing how far he’s fallen.
Palpatine’s “So be it, Jedi,” doesn’t mean that Luke is a “good guy," just that he’s chosen his father and friends over becoming the Emperor’s bitch. Anakin tells Padme that’s he more powerful than the Emperor. He tells Luke the same thing, and that working together, they can prevent forest fires… and kill the Emperor. I can’t believe I’m about to reference this, but Anakin’s entire reason for “falling” to the Dark Side in [Revenge of the] Sith is his love or “passion” for his wife, and wanting to keep her alive. When he finds out that he “killed her in his anger," it only makes him angrier, giving him a Super Saiyan Two power increase cementing him as the legit OG Darth Vader, breathing tubes and all. Luke choosing his father and friends isn’t a Light Side choice at all, it’s one of passion. An “absolute” Sith choice.
And being as I’ve written a small novel on speculation that I KNOW happened if you only watch these movies/read the scripts, that’s my guess for Force Awakens. Luke is in exile, and is either supremely evil doing Skeletor and Cobra Commander type shit, or he’s like a twitchy homeless drug addict evil, trying to stave off cravings of the Dark Side, slowly losing his mind like Yoda did. I don’t think he’s dead, and I don’t think he’s just in hiding under a rock somewhere being good. Hey, he went evil in the comics, and the EU is STILL REAL TO ME DAMMIT.
One down, two to go.