Dark Side Luke Skywalker Almost Happened in 'Return of the Jedi'

Luke Skywalker probably won’t turn to the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars: Episode VIII- The Last Jedi, but if he did, it wouldn’t be writer/director Rian Johnson’s idea. And that’s because George Lucas came up with it first. Back in 1982, Lucas totally toyed with the idea of Luke succumbing to evil, which in turn, created all our evil Skywalker theories 35 years later.

On November 6, Mark Hamill supposedly cleared-up all confusion about whether or not Luke Skywalker will really turn to the Dark Side in The Last Jedi. “Luke has lost confidence in his ability to make good choices,” Hamill told Disney Insider. “It haunts him to the core. But he hasn’t gone to the Dark side. This isn’t an evil version of him.” This comment stood in stark contrast to Hamill’s goading of Star Wars fans online with various suggestive tweets about Luke Skywalker being the “villain” of the new film.

When this topic comes up, hardcore Star Wars fans will undoubtedly remind the uninitiated of the fact that Luke Skywalker did briefly turn to the Dark Side in the 1991 comic book series, Dark Empire. But, because that story is no longer considered canon, it’s safe to assume this version of Luke in The Last Jedi, never went through any of that. Still, all of this would ignore one fascinating detail. George Lucas totally considered having Luke Skywalker fall to the Dark Side in Episode VI. While it’s doubtful Lucas would admit this today, there’s a great quote buried in the 1997 book Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays in which Lucas admits the following:

I realized that I could kill off Luke if I wanted to, and I tried to play that up as much as I could. It was conceivable that Luke could die or turn to the dark side, and if he did, then it would be up to Leia to redeem everybody.

Fast forward to 2017. Luke Skywalker could die or turn to the Dark Side in The Last Jedi. And if he did, it would be up to Leia — and Rey — to redeem everybody. This isn’t to say Rian Johnson is cribbing from George Lucas’s leftover ideas, he’s clearly not. It’s just fascinating how similar the stakes are in The Last Jedi as they were in Return of the Jedi.

In the 30 plus years since Return of the Jedi, the Dark Side is clearly still large and in charge, Luke Skywalker — and Rey and Kylo — are all walking the line between good and evil, and the only person getting any real work done is Leia. The new Star Wars films don’t invalidate the upbeat ending of Return of the Jedi, but if Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were real people, they’d probably be crazy depressed by how much history has repeated itself since their brave Rebel band, struggled — and briefly succeeded — in restoring freedom to the galaxy.

The Last Jedi is out everywhere on December 15.

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