During the panel for Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi at Star Wars Celebration Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker is "significantly important" to the upcoming Saga entry. The hugely popular Star Wars universe has existed in some form or another since George Lucas' original film, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, debuted in theaters in 1977 - and the franchise has since grown to include an expansive world made up of feature films, animated series, and additional content. But, it all started with the story of Luke Skywalker, and his adventures with Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
However, while both Leia and Han had significant roles in the relaunch of the franchise, J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Luke was nowhere to be found until the final moments of the film. After searching for the lost Jedi for much of Episode VII, Rey found Luke on a seemingly deserted island. Now, with the Saga continuing in Episode VIII, Luke is set to return in a much more significant way.
During the panel for Star Wars: The Last Jedi at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017, Hamill discussed the role of Luke in The Force Awakens and Episode VIII, and Kennedy broke in to assure fans that Luke "is so significantly important to this next film." While she didn't expand on how Luke is important, Hamill said of the character's arc:
To a certain extent, it’s not Luke’s story anymore. But I think he’s an important part of the overall arc of the Saga, and again there’s a lot of mystery about him even within the film. So you have to fill in your own back story.
Additionally, Lucasfilm revealed new photos of Luke during the panel for The Last Jedi. Take a look:
Of course, Luke Skywalker being a significant part of The Last Jedi shouldn't come as a huge surprise to fans of the franchise. Since much of The Force Awakens was spent searching for and discussing his absence from the Resistance, it follows that Rey's discovery of the lost Jedi would be a major turning point for both her character arc as well as the new trilogy's as a whole. Plus, based on the trailer for The Last Jedi, we know that Luke will teach Rey how to use the Force.
Beyond his teachings though, it's unclear exactly how he'll be significant. Will he reunite with Leia and join the Resistance, or will he seek to "end" the Jedi as he mentions in the trailer? As more information becomes available from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it's likely we'll learn more about how Luke fits into this particular Saga entry - but it may also be the case that Lucasfilm will keep as much about Rian Johnson's entry in the franchise secret for as long as possible.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019