It can now officially be said that Star Wars: Episode IX comes out this year! So as we continue to approach the film, I’ll be writing a bit about some things I’d love to see in it. This time, I want to look at what I hope to see from Luke Skywalker, inspired by the question that Alex and Mollie Damon at Star Wars Explained answered this past weekend.
But before I begin, I want to be clear about something: I’m not making a list of ‘demands’ that I need Episode IX to have in order for me to like it. That’s what got so many people into trouble with The Last Jedi – they came in expecting certain things, and when those things didn’t happen, then several people simply didn’t like the film. So I’m not suggesting that this is the only way they can take Luke’s character that I’ll like, but this is simply a list of some things I think it’d be really cool to see from Luke, written nearly a year before the film’s release.
So with that said, here are five things I would love to see from Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IX!
1. Continuing Rey’s Training
This is both the most obvious and most likely to happen of any on the list (even though I think there’s a very high likelihood that a couple of these will be in the film). If Mark Hamill is in Episode IX (and spoiler alert: he is!), I’d be shocked if he doesn’t spend any time giving instruction to Rey. This is, after all, the main role we have seen Force Ghosts play in the films so far: instruction! In The Empire Strikes Back, Obi-Wan Kenobi shows up to direct Luke to Hoth, and then to warn him against going to face Vader. In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan shows up to discuss the fact that Vader is Luke’s father, and that Leia is his sister (at the end of the film when the Force Ghosts show up is the only main occurrence in which Force Ghosts aren’t instructing/teaching/warning). And in The Last Jedi, Yoda shows up to talk with Luke, and the old Master gives Luke one more lesson. So while Force Ghosts certainly aren’t exclusively there for guidance, that does seem to be the main way they have been portrayed in these films. I hope that Luke will break that mold a bit (more on that later), but that doesn’t mean he won’t do it. I fully expect Luke to talk with Rey and provide some crucial and critical training and instruction. With Luke’s becoming one with the Force, Rey is the last Jedi remaining. Luke is the Master, and as Rey struggles to become the Jedi she can be, I’m confident Luke Skywalker will be there to help her – this time, as a true Jedi Master would.
2. Influencing Ben Solo
I am also confident in this one happening, though it would be something new for Force Ghosts: Luke Skywalker talking with Ben Solo. This wouldn’t really be a surprise either, since Luke told Ben, “If you strike me down, I’ll always be with you. Just like your father.” And then Luke’s final words to Ben were, “See you around, kid.” There seems to be heavy foreshadowing (as long as J.J. Abrams chooses to pick up on those lines) that Luke isn’t done with Ben – or, perhaps more appropriately, Ben isn’t done with Luke. But we haven’t yet seen a Force Ghost appear to a person on the Dark Side of the Force, so this would be a new avenue to explore. There’s nothing canonically that would suggest it can’t happen, though, only presumptions and guesses as to why it doesn’t (with Obi-Wan’s warning that he can’t get involved as Luke fights Vader being the closest reason given). I expect Luke to talk with Ben Solo in Episode IX and that it will come at a very important time in young Solo’s life, perhaps as he’s wrestling with his destiny and his choices (I know there are differing opinions about what will happen to him and whether he will be redeemed). I think this is especially likely given the passing of Carrie Fisher. While she will be in this film, it’s unknown whether there are any scenes of her and Adam Driver. If Ben Solo ever were to be redeemed, I always figured that it would be Leia bringing him back to the light. I still think that Leia will be a very significant factor if Ben is redeemed, but I now wonder if Mark Hamill will be the one to interact with Adam Driver in these important moments rather than Carrie Fisher. Regardless, I expect Ben Solo’s former Master to have more interactions with him.
3. Reunion of Force Ghosts
I think the first two things are almost locks to happen, but I’m not nearly as confident in this one happening – though it’s something I would absolutely love to see as the Skywalker saga comes to a close: a reunion of Force Ghosts. What I really hope to see is Yoda (Frank Oz), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and maybe even Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) on-screen together as Force Ghosts. Since this is being billed as the final film of the Skywalker saga (and since I truly believe that is their intention at this point), I think they’ll be looking for ways to tie together all three trilogies. This is, in my opinion, the most practical, exciting, and likely way of doing it. In this scenario, you could bring together Jedi from the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, interacting together in the sequel trilogy (possibly with Rey or Ben or both?). Regardless of how it would happen, just imagine how cool this would be to see. Luke and his father together. Luke and his two Jedi Masters. Anakin with his Master, and Obi-Wan with his Master. Liam Neeson, Hayden Christensen, and Ewan McGregor all back to reprise their roles. I mean, this would just be an absolute dream for Star Wars fans, it would be amazing to see, and it could fit the story really well in a number of ways. I think there would be no easier and better way of tying together the saga than this, and it’s something I’m really hoping to see.
4. More Powerful than Ever
One of the most exciting things when it comes to considering Force Ghosts is the line from Obi-Wan Kenobi to Darth Vader in A New Hope: “You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Thinking about it, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader didn’t know the power to truly become one with the Force after death, and he’s clearly surprised that Obi-Wan disappears. But Kenobi’s point is that he would actually become more powerful in death, because he will be one with the Force. That means that we can speculate about just how powerful Luke Skywalker will be as a Force Ghost, since I believe he became as powerful as any Jedi had ever been in life. And as I mentioned earlier, I’d like to see Luke do some things that are new for Force Ghosts. This wouldn’t be contradictory, either. In A New Hope, we learned that a Jedi can commune even after death. In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we learned that a Jedi can manifest a physical body even after death. In The Last Jedi, we learned that a Jedi can interact with physical objects (like a cane hitting Luke’s head) and interact with the environment (like the lightning coming from the sky). And then working backwards a little, it is clear from the case of Qui-Gon Jinn that a Jedi can continue learning even after death (since Qui-Gon learns how to return from the netherworld of the Force, and then learns to manifest physically, as “From a Certain Point of View” notes). So all of this is to say that I really hope Luke Skywalker gets a chance to shine as a Force Ghost, doing things we’ve never seen a Force Ghost do before while displaying just how powerful and awesome he is through some new and epic displays of the Force. And since Force Ghosts can apparently interact with their environment, the options are perhaps nearly limitless.
Both films in the sequel trilogy have made use of a flashback method of storytelling. In The Force Awakens it was Rey’s ‘Forceback’ vision, while in The Last Jedi it was a series of three flashbacks telling the same story from a different perspective about what happened the night Ben Solo rebelled against Luke Skywalker. While I think it’s possible to overdo this method of using flashbacks, the way the sequel trilogy has used them has been very good and helpful and insightful. I would love for J.J. Abrams to continue that trend in Episode IX with another flashback. But what about? Well, we could learn more about Luke’s Jedi Temple with Ben Solo, or we could learn more about Ben Solo and Supreme Leader Snoke (bringing Andy Serkis back for a cameo). But my personal favorite wish when it comes to a flashback would be a massive one: bringing Harrison Ford back for a cameo appearance with Mark Hamill. One of the criticisms some have about the sequel trilogy is that we never got the ‘big three’ on-screen together at the same time, and sadly, unless there was some previously recorded footage, we never will. But we did get a beautiful reunion between Luke and Leia and a heart-warming reunion between Han and Leia, so I’d love to round it out with a beautiful reunion between Luke and Han. It’d have to be in a flashback, but I think that could work. One example: we know that Ben Solo had some issues with his father, so while he’s talking with Luke (see #2 above), Luke could tell Ben more about his father, cutting us to a flashback with Luke and Han and a young Ben Solo and seeing how Han truly loved Ben and wanted to be a great father as best he knew how. I’m just speculating here, but my point is that a flashback would absolutely work, and I’d love to see Luke and Han together in it.