Luke Skywalker’s unexpected return on The Mandalorian last year reignited fan theories and speculation about the beloved Jedi hero’s involvement in upcoming Star Wars project. Will Mark Hamill’s CGI likeness return for The Mandalorian season 3 with little Grogu in tow? Is he destined to become a character who casts his shadow on all of the upcoming live-action series set after Return of the Jedi? Or was his last-minute rescue in Mando season 2 finale just a cameo designed to shatter the internet?
The completely unsatisfying answer is that we simply don’t know what’s next for Luke. We know where his story is ultimately headed, thanks to The Last Jedi, but we know he got up to many adventures between the Original Trilogy and his return in The Force Awakens. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that some of these untold Luke stories could intersect with The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, or the eventual big crossover event that will tie all of these Disney+ shows together.
In fact, a new comic book released by Marvel has added a bit of fuel to the speculation fire, teasing not only Luke’s potential ties to the Palpatine and Supreme Leader Snoke clones in The Rise of Skywalker but also how Disney might re-tell one of the character’s most famous storylines from the now non-canon Legends continuity. It’s important to note here before we go marching into the Force cave on Dagobah that this next bit is pure speculation.
As first reported by IGN, issue #11 of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic, which is written by Greg Pak and drawn by Raffaele Ienco, features a stunning revelation about the Emperor’s plans for Luke. Darth Vader, on the outs with Palpatine after his failure to turn Luke to the dark side in The Empire Strikes Back, is on a quest to kill his master once and for all. But when he discovers the Sith lord’s true power on Exegol, Vader thinks twice about going toe-to-toe with Palps, who is not only building a massive fleet beneath of Sith temple and already experimenting with cloning but also is in possession of Luke’s severed hand.
It’s unclear in the scene what Palpatine plans to do with Luke’s hand, which floats in a jar before Vader’s eyes, but we know from The Rise of Skywalker that the Emperor spent years trying to perfect a method of creating Force-sensitive clones that could house his soul were he ever to meet his demise. Could Palpatine have used Luke’s DNA to create Snoke and later his own clones? Does this mean that Rey, the child of one of Palpatine’s imperfect clones, carries Luke’s DNA as well? It’s possible!
But the more interesting implication is that this brief scene could be weaving yet another story thread that ties back to Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Imperial villain who starred in the first Legends trilogy of post-Return of the Jedi novels, and who was also name dropped by Ahsoka in The Mandalorian season 2 episode “The Jedi.” You see, Thrawn’s Legends story, which takes place around the same period in which The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, and Rangers of the New Republic are set, was the first time Star Wars addressed what happened to Luke’s severed hand.
Until Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy, fans could just assume that the appendage and the lightsaber had been lost deep within the gas giant of Bespin. But the final novel of the trilogy, The Last Command, revealed that the Empire had in fact recovered both Luke’s hand and lightsaber, and that mad Dark Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth had used the appendage to create his own Luke clone, whom he trained as his own dark side apprentice. The clone’s name? Luuke Skywalker.
Luuke, C’baoth, and Thrawn are eventually defeated by the real Luke and friends, bringing the action-packed trilogy to a close, but the story (and Thrawn himself) remain beloved parts of Star Wars lore to this day, even if it isn’t technically canon anymore. But while Disney once sought to refresh the Star Wars timeline back when it was first putting the Sequel Trilogy in motion, the studio has recently used shows like The Mandalorian and Rebels to bring back fan-favorite elements from the Legends continuity. Thrawn himself was re-introduced to canon as the main villain hunting down the Rebellion in the years before A New Hope on Rebels, while The Mandalorian brought back Boba Fett, dark troopers, and Tython as well as placed Thrawn back in the time period in which he was first introduced in the early ’90s.
One of Disney’s main goals with its take on Star Wars canon has been to tell one cohesive narrative no matter the medium. Several things teased in the modern Marvel comics and the Del Rey novels have later shown up in the movies and TV series. For example, Cobb Vanth, who was first introduced in a novel from 2015, headlined The Mandalorian season 2 premiere.
The point is that the reveal on Exegol could be subtly teasing the arrival of Luuke somewhere down the line, whether it’s in live-action on Disney+ or some other format. And it does leave one to wonder: what if the Skywalker who took Grogu was actually Luuke? That would certainly be the kind of huge twist that would lead to Mando trying to find his little green son once again.
For now, the dark side clouds everything.