Over the last few days, a theory as to why Mark Hamill is missing from the poster and trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been growing in popularity online: namely, that he’s not there so as to keep the surprise that Luke has turned to the dark side of the Force.
The A.V. Club has unearthed a clip of Hamill pitching the idea during an episode of IFC’s Dinner for Five TV show back in 2005, noting that another guest listening to Hamill is none other than Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams.
“As an actor, that would be more fun to play,” Hamill said of the idea of Evil Luke Skywalker. “I just thought that’s the way it was going from when we finished [The Empire Strikes Back]. I figured that’s what will be the pivotal moment. I’ll have to come back, but it will be I have Han Solo in my crosshairs and I’ll be about to kill him or about to kill the Princess or about to kill somebody that we care about.”
Even in 2005, however, the idea was an old one. In fact, Luke turning to the dark side was the central conceit to Star Wars: Dark Empire, a 1991 comic book miniseries from Dark Horse Comics, in which Luke becomes the apprentice of a reborn Emperor Palpatine, replacing his father and forcing him into conflict with his sister, Leia. With the revision of Star Wars canon announced last year, however, the events of that storyline were consigned to a limbo of noncontinuity stories — which clears the way to bring an alternate version of the same events into The Force Awakens.
For those convinced that this means that Kylo Ren — aka the shadowy figure with the homemade lightsaber from the first teaser for the movie — is, in actuality, Luke Skywalker, there are a couple of things complicating that idea. Firstly, we know that Adam Driver is playing the character, which would leave Hamill out of the movie altogether were that Skywalker’s fate. And secondly, Luke would know better than to make such a spluttery lightsaber, having already built the one he uses in Return of the Jedi.
Not that that means Luke isn’t mentoring Kylo Ren in some way, acting out against what the audience expects of him. The movie is supposedly about the question “Who is Luke Skywalker?” after all …
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens Dec. 18.