Note: A few possible spoilers from "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" are ahead. If you want to go into the movie with no preconceptions, maybe don't read this!
As the Dec. 18 release date of "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" has gotten closer, we've started to get a fairly clear picture of the plot of the movie, which takes place decades after the events of "Return of the Jedi." We now know, for example, that Rey and Finn, played by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega respectively, are probably going to be the central protagonists, while Adam Driver's Kylo Ren is probably going to be the central villain.
But at least one huge mystery remains: What is Luke Skywalker up to?
We've long known that Mark Hamill would be back for the new trilogy, but his face hasn't appeared in any of the trailers or posters for "The Force Awakens" yet. The only possible glimpse we've gotten is a robotic hand grasping R2-D2. Avid "Star Wars" fans have rushed to fill this vacuum of information with a host of theories -- the most popular (and shocking) being that Luke broke bad after the rebellion, and may even be working with Kylo Ren to take down the New Republic.
J.J. Abrams, the director of "The Force Awakens," knows that the fandom has been wondering what's up. He told Entertainment Weekly's Anthony Breznican that the mystery is completely intentional.
"No one forgot about him! We were hoping people would care, but there are a lot of things that are not on the poster, as busy as the poster is," Abrams said. "Certainly Luke is a very important aspect of the story."
Abrams refused to elaborate much on how, exactly, Luke will be important. But he did hint that the events depicted in George Lucas' original trilogy happened so long before the events of "Episode VII" that "Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia would be as good as myth."
"They’d be as old and as mythic as the tale of King Arthur," Abrams explained. "They would be characters who they may have heard of, but maybe not. They’d be characters who they might believe existed, or just sounded like a fairy tale."
The implication is that Luke Skywalker may be as mysterious to most of the characters in "The Force Awakens" as he is to us. That accords with a speech Harrison Ford's Han Solo makes in one of the trailers for the movie.
"It's true," he says. "All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi ... they're real."
And it seems that in the world of the movie, a group more nefarious than the fandom will try to take advantage of the lack of information about Luke Skywalker. Elsewhere in the Entertainment Weekly issue on "The Force Awakens," Boyega says that the New Order told the Stormtroopers that Skywalker is "a villain who destroyed the benevolent Empire." It's a little hard to square that with the idea that Luke is working with Kylo Ren, admittedly -- but secret allegiances are a staple of the series. We'll just have to wait until Dec. 18 to find out the truth.
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