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Of all the mysteries currently surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens there is one that is takes precedence over all others. Where does Luke Skywalker fit into the story? He’s being intentionally held back so that we won’t know the answer until we sit down to watch the movie. This has lead the internet to do what the internet does best, which is speculate based on what little data we have.
One of the prevailing theories is that we’ve lost Luke Skywalker to the Dark Side. Why else would they not show us Luke Skywalker unless he doesn’t look like the Luke we know? Maybe he even looks like Kylo Ren (another theory with a decent amount of steam). While there is certainly some evidence to support such a theory, my inner 10-year-old does not want to accept it. Luke Skywalker worked too hard in the original trilogy to keep from joining the Emperor and Darth Vader. I don’t believe Luke Skywalker is a villain, and I’ve got evidence to prove it.
Entertainment Weekly recently released some new Star Wars images and one of them included some interesting quotes from John Boyega. According to Boyega, Finn and the other Stormtroopers of the First Order are taught a great deal about who Luke Skywalker is. According to their propaganda, Luke is the villain responsible for the destruction of the benevolent Empire. If Luke is a villain in the eyes of the First Order, then isn’t he, by extension, a hero to those who fight against them? The enemy of my enemy is my friend after all. We have zero evidence that there are more than two sides to this conflict. If Luke is a villain in the big picture of The Force Awakens, then he’s on the side of First Order... yet, that does not appear to be the case.
Finn leaves the First Order because he comes to question that what they have taught him was the truth. According to Boyega in EW, Luke is at the absolute center of that crisis of conscience.
But in terms of the Force, and the magical stuff that happens, that is the point where Finn kind of questions what is what. What is the Force, what part does Luke Skywalker play in all of this?
The First Order teaches that Luke Skywalker is public enemy number one. Finn begins to question that, and eventually renounces the order. The only logical conclusion is that Finn leaves because he realizes that the Resistance, and especially Luke Skywalker, is not evil. At the very least, he questions it and has to go in search of the truth. (This is what we believe we have deduced, based ont the trailers and marketing information.)
There are also more practical reasons that Luke Skywalker, in whatever state he is in, has likely not left the light. We know that Finn eventually gets possession of a lightsaber. If Luke isn’t there to help, who’s going to teach this rookie how to use it? At the end of Return of the Jedi, there is literally one living Jedi in the galaxy. If we’ve lost him, then who will teach the new generation of heroes about The Force, about what it means and how to use it?
Finally, I trust the droids. In the one image from the trailers that we think might be Luke, we see an artificial hand and R2-D2. Do you really believe R2 would be hanging around Luke if he’d gone dark? Don’t tell me he’s been reprogrammed. An evil R2 is even harder to swallow than an evil Luke.
Luke Skywalker isn’t just a man in The Force Awakens -- he’s a legend. The hero of the Resistance and the villain of the The First Order. I don’t know where we’ll find Luke when he finally appears on screen. He may not want to fight anymore. But when it comes time, I know which side he’ll be fighting for.