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Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Despite being announced as part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens' main cast, Mark Hamill barely did anything in the 2015 Star Wars flick. Aside from Luke Skywalker briefly popping up in Rey's Force vision, the Jedi Master didn't fully appear until the movie's final minutes. Well, rest assured, Luke will have a lot more to do this winter when Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out. In fact, when director/writer Rian Johnson started working on The Last Jedi's story, he made sure to nail down what's Luke's mental status has been like from the years immediately preceding the sequel trilogy to now, namely why he decided to disappear. Johnson explained:

Figuring out where his head was at was the very first thing I had to do when writing the movie. I had to crack this. And it had to be something for me that first and foremost made sense. Why did Luke Skywalker go off to this island? That was the starting point, and that's what the entire movie explores.

While Star Wars: The Force Awakens did a satisfiable job of providing the basic overview of why Luke Skywalker went into hiding, there are still plenty of specific details waiting to be revealed. Combine that with how Star Wars: The Last Jedi takes immediately after The Force Awakens, it's no wonder that Rian Johnson immediately turned to Luke Skywalker first when writing Episode VIII's script. With much of the movie centered around him training Rey, it's important that audiences have a good sense of where his head is.

Here's what we know so far about what happened to Luke Skywalker between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. He attempted to rebuild the Jedi Order and was training a number of Padawans. However, he was betrayed by his nephew, Ben Solo, who became Kylo Ren and slaughtered Luke's apprentices with the Knights of Ren. Upset about what happened, Luke went into exile and searched for the first Jedi Temple. He found it on Ahch-To, where he's been ever since. But even with this information, there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled in, like what specifically caused Ben to turn to the dark side, or why Luke thought it was necessary to disappear and cut off all contact with his loved ones.

Regarding that latter mystery, Rian Johnson told EW that he tried not to make it look like Luke was a coward for not staying to fight back against Kylo Ren and the First Order. The director continued:

I didn't want it to. There has to be a good reason that makes sense to him --- and to some degree makes sense to us.

Even with the teaser trailer that dropped last month, there are still many questions surrounding Star Wars: The Last Jedi. All we know for certain right now regarding Luke Skywalker is that he'll be teaching Rey the ways of the Force on Ahch-To, but he also now believes that it's time for the Jedi to end. Oh, and he'll be reunited with his best droid buddy, R2-D2.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released in theaters on December 15.