This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
“No one’s ever really gone,” says Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, no doubt meaning that your loved ones will always be with you in spirit even after they’ve died. Unless, of course, he’s referring to the Jedi and their nifty trick of coming back from the dead to haunt you as a neon blue Force ghost. In which case, you literally can’t get rid of them.
Despite concentrating himself to death at the end of the last film, Luke himself (well, his spirit form) will indeed be back for The Rise Of Skywalker to whisper words of wisdom from beyond the grave, while presumably sitting on a comfy log.
But what else will the son of Darth Vader be able to do in the last instalment of the Skywalker saga? Will his role be limited to just exchanging dialogue with the colossally untrained Rey? Or are we about to see him do something so mesmerizingly cool that it’ll make that scene at the end of Rogue One look like Jar Jar falling over?
Influencing the physical world
Since all Star Wars Legends material was de-canonicalized in 2014, there’s now very little we know about a Force ghost’s ability to influence the physical world. In Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi, it was established that it was possible for a dead Jedi to touch a living one due to their connection in the Force. And while this may no longer count as official Star Wars lore, The Last Jedi supported the theory when Yoda’s ghost whacked Luke with his stick. He also appeared to almost entirely lose his bluish glow and transparency, suggesting a deceased Jedi can make a near full return to their physical form.
Even more interestingly, Yoda also destroyed the Jedi Tree library by summoning lightning (hang on, Force lightning?). So not only are the Jedi still able to use their powers after they’ve snuffed it, they’re apparently also capable of harnessing new ones.
This potentially has major implications for Luke in The Rise of Skywalker. Theoretically, he should be able to use the Force to assist Rey and her fellow heroes, perhaps by lobbing the occasional rock at Kylo Ren’s head or, say, guiding a proton torpedo into the exhaust port of a giant space station. If he’s also able to regain his solidity and interact with objects in a similar style to Yoda, could we potentially see him wield a lightsaber again? In a fight? With The Emperor?
Communicating with other Force users
Despite us still knowing very little about Force ghosts and how they work, they’re actually one of the earliest pieces of established Star Wars canon. A New Hope introduced us to the idea when Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ben to his friends) let Darth Vader slice him in twain, only for his body to instantly vanish like a misplaced coffee cup in post-production. We then almost immediately heard his ghostly voice tell Luke to run as the Stormtroopers unthreateningly opened fire.
It was in The Empire Strikes Back that Obi-Wan first appeared to Luke as a ghostly apparition, promptly followed by Yoda and his redeemed father Anakin in Return of the Jedi. How this was possible remained a mystery right up until the last prequel film Revenge of the Sith, where Yoda told Obi-Wan that his old master Qui-Gon Jinn had returned from “netherworld of the Force” and “learned the path to immortality.” It was written in the original screenplay that Qui-Gon was taught how to do this by a Shaman of the Whills. And in The Clone Wars animated series, Yoda learned the same ability from the Force Priestesses on a planet in the centre of the galaxy.
Crucially, the ability to return as a ghost and communicate with other Force users is exclusive to the Jedi. However, there may possibly be an exception to this rule: Darth Plagueis The Wise, The Emperor’s former master and supposedly the only Sith to ever discover the secret to immortality (Darth Maul doesn’t count because he didn’t actually die – he was just given spider legs). In terms of what this could mean for The Rise of Skywalker, it seems incredibly likely that The Emperor is back because he too has discovered the secret, either to return as a Sith ghost or to his physical form.
As previously mentioned, The Last Jedi played with the idea of Force ghosts being able to harness new powers. But it was Star Wars Rebels that arguably presented the biggest game-changer when Ezra accessed the “World Between Worlds” to manipulate time and save Ashoka from Darth Vader.
While Ezra may not have been a Force ghost, dead Jedi are said to pass through the World Between Worlds, meaning someone like Luke, Obi-Wan, Yoda, or Qui-Gon should technically be able to visit different points in time.
Seeing time travel implemented into a core Star Wars film may be enough to make some fans completely disown their toy collections and Wookiee onesies but, as The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson previously pointed out, there are actually no set guidelines to how the Force works, with new abilities and powers being introduced in each instalment.
Back in 2017, Johnson told the LA Times: “The truth is, because Star Wars until The Force Awakens has been set in amber and we hadn’t had a new Star Wars movie in 10 years, you forget that they were introducing new Force stuff with each movie, based on the requirements of the story. Force-grabbing didn’t come around until Empire, it wasn’t in A New Hope. Same with Force ghosts. They’d introduce new ideas of what could happen with the Force each time.”
Since time travel is now canon in the Star Wars universe, it perhaps shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility for Luke in The Rise of Skywalker – even if it does feel a little too Star Trek.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker opens on Dec. 20. The full schedule of Star Wars movie releases can be found here.
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