It will be the biggest cinematic reveal of 2015 – where in the galaxy is Luke Skywalker? We’ve all pored over each and every snippet of information, and each and every frame of marketing material – the teaser trailers, the full-length trailer, the still images and the poster – but, for all that effort, director J.J Abrams is undeniably a Jedi Master when it comes to protecting his Star Wars plot. A big part of that mystery is the fact that the face of Luke Skywalker – the ultimate rebel – appears to be absent from the marketing campaign for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and in true fandom fashion, we cannot help but wonder: What does it mean?
It obviously means something. Actor Mark Hamill’s name is right there in the film’s credits. His voice is all over the second teaser trailer, in which his mechanical hand can be seen, and that same shot is seen again in the final trailer. Abrams has skilfully manipulated the marketing for this film to ensure that Luke Skywalker casts an appropriately vast shadow over the entire endeavour, while remaining largely out of sight – which in itself suggests that the rebel is once again, quite rightly, at the heart of the story. The filmmaker wants the most important part of the project to remain a stunning, wonderful surprise.
He also wants us to talk about it, though, because that generates publicity, and is great for ticket sales. Hiding the biggest aspect of the most highly anticipated film in years is the quickest, most effective way to achieve viral marketing. Get the fans to market the film for you – it’s a stroke of genius. Fans love to speculate and, provided it remains respectful, little harm can be done. So, with that in mind, let’s dig into the hottest Star Wars topic of the moment: Where’s Luke? It’s a good question – a lot can happen in thirty years.
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Before we start, though, there is one, vital thing we need to keep in mind when it comes to the countless theories currently circulating about the fate of Luke Skywalker – and that is that J.J Abrams is clearly doing old-school Star Wars. He has shown, through the trailers, that he has returned to the essence of the original, glorious trilogy. This is why the trailers have had such a huge, emotional impact – we can feel it in every single frame, thanks to the real sets, and the practical effects. That being the case, it is not a drastic leap in logic to surmise that this return to the franchise root will include the greatest aspect of Star Wars – that it is a family drama played out within the epic scale of galactic warfare. We know it’s about family – that plot thread is laid out right there in the second teaser trailer, by Luke.
Here’s what else we know: Evil is gathering, with ‘new’ masked bad guy Kylo Ren apparently leading the charge. Rebels assemble! There will be the Dark Side, and there will be the Light, but where will Luke Skywalker fit in?