The return of Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens was both a moment of emotional triumphant and consternation for fans of the daydreaming farmboy turned Jedi Master. He had little more than a cameo in the film, and the character development he went on to receive in The Last Jedi had a polarizing effect. To top it off, not only was his character altogether different than what fans were expecting, the film culminated in his abrupt death, which many took as an affront to the franchise altogether.
But now he’s back for Episode IX, directed by Episode VII’s JJ Abrams, and Star Wars fans may be greeted with a different take on the Jedi Master. The context surrounding his return is a closely guarded secret, but there are definitely some right and wrong ways he could be included in the film that will conclude the Skywalker Legacy.
10 HOPE: HE BECOMES A FORCE GHOST
Like Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, Luke elected to become “one with The Force” after he faced his former apprentice Kylo Ren on Crait. The cost to project himself onto Crait all the way from the planet of Ahch-To proved too much for his corporeal body.
With his cloak fluttering to the ground in The Last Jedi, it became apparent to fans that one of the most sensible ways Luke would return in Episode IX would be just like Obi-Wan, Yoda, and even his father did; as Force ghosts.
9 HOPE NOT: HE ONLY SHOWS UP TO GIVE CONFUSING ADVICE
As traumatic as it was for Luke to lose Obi-Wan Kenobi as a friend and mentor in A New Hope, salt was added to the wound when Obi-Wan returned to Luke in cryptic visions and as an occasional Force Ghost spouting inane advice.
He concealed the truth about the identity of Luke’s father and generally caused more harm than good. Hopefully, Luke won’t be relegated to a sanctimonious specter that refuses to “get involved” and further punctures holes in a plot already riddled with them. He deserves more than that.
8 HOPE: HE FINDS THE WORLD BETWEEN WORLDS
A recent fan theory has surfaced that connects The Last Jedi with certain events in the Star Wars: Rebels series and the Star Wars third person PVP game Battlefront II. In Rebels, Force-sensitive Ezra encounters the “World between Worlds” which allows access to events in the past and the future.
In Battlefront II Luke retrieves a Jedi artifact from one of Emperor Palpatine’s hidden treasuries; a compass that could be used to plot hyperspace routes or...find the location of a portal to the “World between Worlds” which he reveals to Rey in Episode IX.
7 HOPE NOT: HE’S ONLY IN FLASHBACKS
In The Force Awakens, a cinematic technique never before used in the Star Wars films made its first appearance; flashbacks. When Rey is below the tavern of Maz Kanata, she encounters a trunk containing Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, the blue-bladed weapon he gave to his son Luke.
When she touches it, several “Force visions” or flashbacks are revealed to her, including some from Luke’s past. Hopefully in Episode IX, Luke’s part won’t simply be a series of more brief images, showing life before his exile on Ahch-To.
6 HOPE: HE BECOMES THE MOST POWERFUL JEDI ON SCREEN
In Ken Liu’s Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Legends of Luke Skywalker novel, Luke Skywalker is seen as a hologram on the bridge of a Star Destroyer, which he crashes onto the planet of Jakku after the events of Return of the Jedi.
A Jedi Master surely has the power to bring down a Star Destroyer as surely as they can levitate an X-Wing, and wouldn’t it be fitting to see Luke perform a similarly awesome feat on film, considering he was purported to be one of the most powerful Jedi to ever live?
5 HOPE NOT: HE ONLY GETS A CAMEO
One of the biggest gripes fans had when watching The Force Awakens was how little screen time Luke Skywalker had! Here they had waited patiently for Episode VII and a full thirty years to see Mark Hamill once again don Jedi robes and he didn’t even get a speaking part.
When Episode VIII debuted, fans who had been hoping for more from Luke were ultimately polarized about his character development. For some, the only way his character arc can be redeemed is through a more extensive part in Episode IX and not a small cameo.
4 HOPE: HE TEACHES KYLO REN HUMILITY BY RETURNING
When Kylo Ren couldn’t destroy his former master with the firepower of a Gorilla Walker ground assault on Crait, he attempted to destroy him in a duel. This too failed, because his master wasn’t there at all, but a projection coming from another planet.
When Luke couldn’t maintain the projection any longer, he allowed himself to become one with The Force, but not before informing his former apprentice; “Strike me down and I’ll always be with you.” No matter how strong in the Dark Side Kylo Ren thinks he is, he’ll never be able to separate himself from the Skywalker family.
3 HOPE NOT: HE’S ONLY PART OF OTHER’S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
While there have been several great new characters introduced in the most recent Star Wars films they are, at their core, about the Skywalker Legacy. The story of Anakin Skywalker, his fall to the Dark Side, his redemption by his twin children, and their further adventures have been the crux of the series since it began.
Luke cannot simply exist as a part of Rey’s development, or Kylo Ren’s development as characters at this point. Episode IX must bring the nine film space odyssey to a fitting conclusion done right by one of its most significant characters.
2 HOPE: HE CONTINUES REY’S LESSONS
When Rey traveled to Ahch-To to locate Luke Skywalker, his response was underwhelming to say the least. He wasn’t happy to see her, he wasn’t impressed she’d discovered his secret hideout, and he had no intention of training her. After witnessing the “raw power” of her Force sensitivity, however, he changed his mind.
He declared she would receive “three lessons”. Two of them made it into The Last Jedi before he passed away. When he returns in Episode IX, it may still be as a mentor, as Obi-Wan Kenobi continued to be for him even after his death.
1 HOPE NOT: HIS DISAPPEARANCE WAS TELEPORTATION
Some fans would like Luke to return as a Force Ghost, some in a series of flashbacks, and some as a living, breathing person. For some, retribution for the character development they felt was criminal in The Last Jedi can only be achieved if Luke simply disappeared at the conclusion in a brilliant feat of teleportation.
As comforting as that might be for some to have Luke re-materialize on some other planet during a time of great distress, Gandalf-The-White Style, it would deaden the emotional impact Rey and Leia both felt when he became one with The Force.