Unless you find yourself covering your eyes and ears several times a day, every day of the week, you’ve no doubt witnessed the ultimate marketing machine at work helping ensure that Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is one of the biggest entertainment releases of all-time. Despite the slew of Star Wars 7 posters, trailers, TV advertisements, toys, and all other forms of branded, licensed merchandise, franchise legend Luke Skywalker is nowhere to be found.

It’s strange given the legacy of the Skywalker family and Mark Hamill’s appearances at Disney promotional events. We all know Mark Hamill is in Star Wars 7 but why is he not even on the film’s main one-sheet? It’s not by accident says co-writer and director J.J. Abrams.

But not to worry, Luke is part of the story although his screen time in Episode VII may be minimal. Abrams confirmed that Luke is still a “very important aspect of the story” even if he’s behind-the-scenes as other characters search for him, but questions about his whereabouts and what he’s been up to will be answered. The focus this time around, for the start of the new trilogy, is on the “next generation” of characters with original trilogy veterans like Luke serving to connect it to what the saga was.

For fans wanting more though, they’ll get it. Hamill is returning for Episode VIII which is currently filming. Last summer, Mark Hamill shot scenes in Skellig Michael island in Ireland, a beautiful and remote home of an ages old monastery which makes for a perfect hiding spot (or secluded Jedi Academy) for old Luke for The Force Awakens. That same location was used for Star Wars 8 scenes in September where it was all but confirmed Hamill was taking part. Surprising no one, we can safely confirm Luke Skywalker’s role in the next episodic installment of the Star Wars saga thanks to Hamill’s recent tweet talking about growing his Skywalker beard back, a tradition of old Jedi:

To play the Trickster in CW’s The Flash again, Hamill had to be clean shaven but has been growing it back since October 22nd. We can only hope that he’s not playing a Force-powered Ghost a la Obi-Wan Kenobi and that his re-growing of the beard means Luke has a substantial role in the next movie, directed by Rian Johnson.

Would you like to see Luke become a main character in Episodes VIII and IX? Want to see him start up a Jedi Academy?

More: Star Wars 7 Has Already Made $50 Million In Early Ticket Sales

The film is directed by J.J. Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.

Source: Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker art Liam Pickford.

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