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Why Luke Skywalker is not Kylo Ren
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer
With the advent of Disney's new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, fan frenzy has grown to an all time high. Exciting new trailers and character posters are only intensifying anticipation to the long-awaited return to that galaxy far, far away. However, with all of these teases to the seventh episodic installment of the Star Wars universe comes one major question: where's Luke Skywalker?
The Internet have been ablaze with speculations ever since the very mention of a new Star Wars film. Although only spurring additional theories about what lies in store for our returning heroes and series newbies, the latest and final trailer injected us with nostalgia by showing the majority of original cast members. With Han Solo being the obvious focus and conduit to the beloved original trilogy, we were also shown Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and possibly Boba Fett (click here). But Luke has been largely and noticeably absent. With the exception of his haunting words and possible brief appearance as the cloaked figure grazing R2 in the second teaser, Luke's current whereabouts and potential allegiances have fans in an uproar.
While J. J. Abrams is undeniably known for misleading audiences prior to a film’s release (even when it's irrelevant, as in Star Trek Into Darkness), the director has admitted that there is a blatant reason for the Jedi knight's absence in all promotional material for the Force Awakens. But why? Although confirmed that Luke will play a central role in the story, Disney and Abrams are extremely tightlipped. While there are a number of theories, one of the most common is that Luke is indeed in the teasers, trailer, TV spots, and even the poster, but simply not as most fans were anticipating. This would mean that cheery, final image of our heroes in Return of the Jedi does not reflect the events that transpired over the near thirty year gap to the Force Awakens and a far more sinister fate for our favorite Jedi. Reminiscent of Anakin's fall to the Dark Side of the force, many fans are now insisting that Luke may be treading in Vader's footsteps and has since taken up his father's evil mantle as Kylo Ren.
While there do exist some compelling arguments, it seems unlikely that Disney or Abrams would risk taking the series in such a dark direction, despite the more adult driven story. Also, there are a number of obvious holes in such a theory and ample evidence to break it.
Luke rejected the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi
One of the foremost thoughts on any Star Wars fan or advocate is that Luke rejected the Dark Side in the epic conclusion of Return of the Jedi. After metaphorically and visually seeing what he would become if his hate was allowed to consume him, Luke refuses the Emperor’s evil offer. As his father lay defeated before him, he casted his saber aside and asserted, “Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
While some fans acknowledge that it only took the mentioning of turning Leia to nearly push Luke over the edge, it is more likely that the character would go into hiding. Fears of a similar reoccurrence and learning from his mistake seem more appropriate to the established character, as opposed to succumbing to a temptation he already triumphed. Besides, it would be quite the copout and slap in the face to fans to ignore such a turning point in the original trilogy. Not to mention, it would be too similar to Vader’s tale, which was depicted in the prequel trilogy (and we all know how that turned out...).
It would be a Rehash of Anakin falling to the Dark Side
Although originality is undoubtedly lacking in Hollywood, why retell the same story in such an expansive universe? It would be a major disservice to everyone who has waited and suffered through the prequels to have son repeat the sins of the father. With a pallet and opportunity for near endless possibilities, we do not need another tragic villain story. After following Anakin’s gradual and arguably uneventful fall from grace during the prequels, fans and moviegoers deserve so much more! Similar to my hopes for Luke, Abrams and the writers should learn from Lucas’s mistakes and move forward with a clean slate.
Kylo Ren is a Skywalker descendent
While it appears that Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren are indeed separate entities, there is an obvious connection between the two. The most popular and likely theory is that Luke was training Kylo and founded the Knights of Ren. After all, Abrams has revealed that Kylo Ren is not a real name, but rather a surname, such as Darth Vader. Not only does this seem an obvious choice of direction to take the story and verge the substantial gap in trilogies, but also provided insight into Ren’s true identity. Is he one of the suspected Skywalker descendents?
The lineage is a major focal point of the entire saga and will undoubtedly be central to the plot in the new trilogy. Many fans now believe Kylo Ren and newcomer Rey to be none other than the offspring of Han and Leia. While not only a possibility, it would follow the Star Wars tradition of two (apprentice & master, twins, etc). Perhaps the Knights of Ren was founded by Luke Skywalker and instead of being a becon of hope for the galaxy, fell to the Dark Side with his former apprentice (Kylo Ren). With Ren evil, it would be no wonder why Rey would have abandoned her family and Luke following in the footsteps of many Jedi before him, with an extended exile. A reemergence of force-wielders would certainly reinforce the film’s title. But focusing on the character may not be enough, as his weapon is also very telling.
Kylo Ren’s Lightsaber is too crude
As seen in all of promotional material, Kylo Ren has a very unique (for better or worse) lightsaber, which Abrams has confirmed that he constructed on his own. The blade is unlike any we have ever seen, and distinguishable by its crude and deadly design. As we know from Return of the Jedi, especially the deleted scene, Luke appears more than capable of constructing a more elegant design. Following the loss of his hand in Empire Strikes Back (rumored to be a major plot point of the new film), Luke constructed his signature green-bladed lightsaber. Unless built to reflect the Dark Side’s twisted nature or found, it does not appear to be a Luke Skywalker original.
Luke Skywalker is in the Trailer and Adam Driver is Kylo Ren
Star Wars the Force Awakens Teaser Trailer #2
But if delving into the original trilogy for answers is too existential or theory-heavy for you, let us review the obvious. Although largely left open to speculation, Luke does appear to be present in the second teaser. As previously mentioned, his recognizable black cloak and synthetic hand are shown, when he utters the words, “I have it.” There have also been several leaked photos of Mark Hamil in full Jedi attire that is reminiscent of Obi-Wan Kenobi from the original Star Wars (A New Hope) or dare I say, even the prequels.
Not to mention, it has long been confirmed that Adam Driver was cast as Kylo Ren and is shown in a number of released pictures. While some fans fear that Abrams may be pulling a Benedict Cumberbatch with the latest installment, the director’s subsequent recognition of his Star Trek blunder appears to dismiss such rumors (click here).
Following the backlash, Abrams admitted that it was a mistake to lie about Khan’s appearance in his Star Trek sequel. Unless this is a means of further throwing moviegoers off the scent, it seems unlikely that he would risk angering Star Wars fans, after the fallout with Trekkies and Trekkers. Not to mention that Driver is undeniably seen at the end of the newest trailer taking a swing at other series newcomer, Fin. This would require Disney and Abrams conducting a campaign of deception that would be on par with the Emperor himself, which just does not seem likely.
Regardless of where you fall on the Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren debate, all fans are looking forward to a true return and revitalization of the Star Wars universe. Following Lucas’s numerous stumbles and failures with the prequel trilogy and noticeable drop in quality, the Force Awakens has nowhere to take the franchise, but up. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters on December 18, 2015.