There’s been no shortage of potential spoilers for Star Wars: Episode VII, ranging from leaked concept art to freaking drone surveillance footage. But last week a true whopper hit the interwebs, a potentially massive reveal on the order of “Luke, I am your father.” We’re talking here about a twist so big that it’s sparked a fierce debate about whether anyone should be reporting it at all. Well, the story just got a shade more surreal with the revelation that, whether the rumor proves to be accurate, it definitely isn’t unprecedented, and nor is it the first time director J.J. Abrams has been at least indirectly connected to the idea.
There’s no way to talk about this without, well, talking about it, so flee in the opposite direction unless you’re willing to face down
MASSIVE POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW! RUN AWAY!
Okay, so we won’t recount the entire breakdown of last week’s huge Ep VII rumor — you can read our full original report here. The short version, however, is that the characters of the next Star Wars movie will allegedly spend much of the film looking for the missing Luke Skywalker, only to find him and discover that he has — at least apparently — embraced the Dark Side and become the very evil they needed his help to fight. So yeah, kind of a big deal.
But it’s not actually a new idea. The notion of Luke being tempted to go full Dark Side has been explored before in the Expanded Universe, notably in the Dark Empire comic miniseries, but can be traced back even further, according to the dude who played him. See, a commenter with a good memory over at StarWars7News.com recalled a discussion about just that subject that actor Mark Hamill had back in 2006 on an episode of IFC’s Dinner for Five. Here’s Hamill discussing the then persistent rumors that he was going to be doing a Star Wars TV show with director Kevin Smith. And you might want to pay attention to who else is at the table.
Yeah, so that’s Mark Hamill talking about how he wanted Luke to turn to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi but George Lucas wouldn’t go for it…while eventual Episode VII director J.J. Abrams sits right across the table from him.
Now, there are a few things this could mean. For one, it might not mean anything. I’m sure Hamill and Abrams still remember that conversation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it informed anything that may or may not be happening in the new trilogy. Whether the rumors about Luke’s proclivity for red-bladed lightsabers in Ep VII prove to be accurate or not, this could be just one of those weird little synchronicities that pop up in life every once in a while, but which are a lot more noticeable now that everything everybody does winds up on the internet.
But let’s say it’s more than that. I’m sure Abrams had his own ideas about what direction he wanted to take Episode VII in when he first went after the job. Those ideas obviously have to happen in consultation with what Disney and Lucasfilm want to do. And once the original trilogy’s actors came aboard, I have no doubt that Abrams discussed their characters with them, and what they’d like to see happen to them in the new trilogy. If Hamill was that interested to take Luke to a darker place back in the early ’80s, and still talking about it in 2006, it’s entirely possible that he’d want to revisit the idea now that he’s getting the chance to return to his most iconic character. And I can absolutely see Abrams, who certainly loves a good twist, being enthusiastic about the idea. So maybe in that video we’re seeing the seeds of something that would come to fruition years later, and in a way neither of them could have expected.
Then again, this is J.J. we’re talking about, and he loves misdirection even more than a good twist, so maybe it’s his camp who leaked the Evil Luke rumors in the first place. And maybe it’s another of his Sith agents who has intentionally drawn attention to this old video, just to add fuel to the fire. Who knows? But even if it’s just a curious footnote, it’s definitely, as a pointy-eared bastard from that other space franchise would say, fascinating.
There’s one other thing that I think is worth highlighting here as well. It’s Hamill’s quote that, even though he wanted Luke to turn to the Dark Side, “I’ll have to come back.” Some folks, including our own Brent, have been seriously irked at the notion that Abrams might make such a drastic change to a beloved character. But even if I knew for sure it was true, whether I thought it was a good idea or not, I’d still have to withhold judgment until I see the finished film. Because right now, regardless of how much we think we know, we lack the most important element: context.
Would I be upset if Luke follows the same path as his father in the new trilogy? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on why, and how, and what happens after. Especially the “why” part. What would make Luke give himself over to a temptation he’s proven he can stand firm against? What if it’s not just about power, but about power to defend against something else that’s out there? Something that’s worse? I’m in pure speculation mode here, but all I’m saying is that Luke going over to the Dark Side isn’t necessarily the most interesting thing. If it happens, answering that question of “why” is going to be crucial to whether they can make it work, or just succeed at pissing people off.
Then again, it could all be a crock of bantha poodoo. It’s a long time till Episode VII’s December 2015 release date, and I’m sure there will be plenty more insane rumors to come before we get there. May the Force be with us all…