This post contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Mark Hamill discusses the chances of Luke Skywalker returning in the still-untitled Star Wars: Episode IX, remaining optimistic despite the character's emotional but fulfilling death in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The threequel won't be in production until the middle of next year, but director J.J. Abrams already has his story pitch submitted, and if Hamill is to be asked, we can bet that we haven't seen the last of his iconic role yet.
Luke Skywalker's journey comes full circle, dying on the planet of Ahch-To after using all his power projecting himself on Crait to buy General Organa and her troops time to evacuate, while he gazes on the binary sunset - a callback to Star Wars: A New Hope. It's arguably one of the more nostalgic shots of The Last Jedi, a film that opted to move forward rather than be tied down to the past. While it's sad to see our original Star Wars hero bite the bullet, it's arguably one of the better ways to go. As Rey says it, his death has peace and purpose, fully knowing that his return ultimately helped the Resistance survive, regroup and come back stronger than ever.
While Hamill asserts Luke's personal narrative arc ended 30 years ago in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi coupled with his physical death in Episode VIII, he also maintains there is a good chance he will be back to reprise the role in Episode IX. Of course, his return would be via a Force Ghost much like Masters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. “I’m just still holding on to the line, ‘See you around, kid.’ I can be in Episode Nine! I might consider catering the film just so I can hang out,” the actor said during the EW-hosted Q&A following an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences screening of The Last Jedi.
Lest we forget, Episode VIII did not change anything narrative-wise even with the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher, meaning that Luke was always meant to die in Johnson's story. As we know, The Force Awakens was meant to be a Han Solo-centric story, The Last Jedi is Luke's narrative and Episode IX was meant to be a Leia-show. But with the actress now gone, it's hard to imagine how the trilogy capper would go on without at least one legacy character in it. With the Jedi ability to come back via a Force Ghost, Hamill's return for the next saga film has always been a possibility, albeit sporadically so as not to take away too much attention from her space twin. But with the predicament that Lucasfilm now faces, having to amend plans for Episode IX to account for Fisher's passing, there is a higher chance that the Jedi Master will stick around a bit longer to guide Rey in her endeavor, which appears to be to rebuild the Jedi Order.
It's such a tragedy that we won't be getting Leia at center stage and it will be interesting how Abrams will incorporate Fisher's death into Episode IX's story after knowing where we left her in Episode VIII. Luke, on the other hand, has already hinted that it won't be the last Kylo (or we) have seen him, leaving the door wide open for his return. While we have seen old masters come back to continue imparting knowledge to their subordinates long after they've departed, it will be a fresh spin if instead of Luke hanging out with Rey, he haunts Ben Solo instead, hanging by his shoulder and reminding him that he will ultimately fail. That's actually the great thing about The Last Jedi, Johnson introduced the notion that there is still so much to learn about the mythos, and what once deemed impossible is actually within the realm of possibility.
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