After his silent, single scene appearance in last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is set to have a far more substantial role in Rian Johnson's currently untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII. The next chapter of the Skywalker family saga will pick up just moments from where Episode VII left off, as Luke assumes the part of mentor to scavenger-turned-Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley). In the early days of Star Wars 8 speculation, it was rumored that the elder Skywalker would be involved in an action sequence involving the Knights of Ren.
Lucasfilm has done an admirable job maintaining secrecy regarding their projects, which has become a challenging task in the 21st century. No matter how hard the studio tries to keep everything under lock and key, slip ups do happen. For instance, Mads Mikkelsen revealed that his Rogue One: A Star Wars Story character Galen Erso is the father of protagonist Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) before Disney wanted that information to go public. Now, Hamill, the master secret keeper, might have dropped a spoiler for Star Wars: Episode IX on social media.
The actor took to his Twitter account to commemorate the shaving of his beard, remarking that it's the first time since May 2015 he has been clean-shaven. Fans will take great interest in his comment "at least until #EpisodeIX," as it seems like confirmation Hamill will return for the conclusion of the sequel trilogy. Check out his post below:
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 30, 2016
Some viewers will perceive this message as proof that Luke Skywalker will not die in Star Wars 8, which is entirely possible. After Lucasfilm delivered the emotional sucker punch of killing off Han Solo in Episode VII, they may not want to go for a similar reaction so soon. Even though Episode VIII is going to be darker in tone than Force Awakens, it doesn't mean it will feature character deaths. It's worth pointing out that The Empire Strikes Back is the most serious Star Wars film to date, and none of the main players are killed during the events. Should Johnson decide to kill a member of the original trilogy guard, signs are pointing to General Leia Organa. Reports have suggested Leia will be in a coma in Star Wars 8, implying she could be fatally wounded in an attack.
Of course, Hamill being in Episode IX doesn't necessarily mean Luke Skywalker will be in the flesh; Jedi Masters in the Star Wars universe are known for appearing as Force ghosts. There's a chance this is how Star Wars 9 director Colin Trevorrow will incorporate Luke into his film, and Skywalker's spirit form requires Hamill to grow his beard back. Time will tell, but it's something moviegoers should keep in mind before accusing the typically zip-lipped Hamill of ruining the highly-anticipated sequel.
Plus, in the realm of Star Wars spoilers, Hamill returning for Episode IX is hardly a shock. By now, it's common knowledge that actors such as Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac are all supposedly locked in for the third film, so the perceived dramatic tension that comes from the question "will they live?" seems to have been dissolved months before the movie premieres. This is common in today's franchise filmmaking (see: Marvel, DC), and it should have little impact on the hype for Episode VIII. As long as Johnson delivers another satisfying chapter in the saga, people won't care about this harmless Hamill tweet from the summer of 2016.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
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