The latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens – revealed this morning at the Star Wars Celebration – has us all worked up here at Flixist. We’ve already watched it dozens upon dozens of times and analyzed it to death, as nerds are wont to do. There’s obviously a ton to dissect there, but one little bit of dialogue has us in full-on speculation mode:
The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power, too.
Did you catch that? The speaker – heavily implied to be an old Luke Skywalker – says his father has the Force. Not had, has. Present tense. Of course, everyone knows Luke’s father is Anakin Skywalker, better known as Darth Vader, the podracer extraordinaire who sacrificed himself at the end of Return of the Jedi. Is it possible that, somehow, the slave-boy-turned-Sith-Lord has returned from the dead in the decades between Jedi and Force – or that he never really died at all?
Before we lose our heads, there are definitely ways to explain away this (apparent) discrepancy. The line pretty clearly evokes the moment in Jedi in which Luke explains his family tree to Leia and the voice very clearly sounds like Mark Hamill – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s Luke speaking. If we assume it is, however, it’s possible that director J. J. Abrams was just trying to keep the line as faithful to the original dialogue as possible while still putting a fresh spin on it – and hey, the fact that someone is holding Vader’s old, destroyed helmet as the line is spoken seems to indicate the big guy is gone, right?
And yet, doubt lingers, all hinging on one little word. “Has.” The dialogue has already been adjusted to fit whoever we presume Luke is speaking to – likely a child, either his or Leia’s – so it’s not as though the audio was lifted directly from Jedi. Why not adjust the first part of that line to be past tense? There’s certainly some precedent for people coming back from the dead in the Star Wars universe – for starters, Alec Guinness spent most of his screentime in the original films as a ghost. In addition, one of the most well-regarded pieces of Expanded Universe literature – which, to be fair, is no longer considered canon – is Dark Empire, which sees Emperor Palpatine resurrected by way of clone. Is it possible we’ll see a fresh-faced Hayden Christiansen palling around with cranky old Mark Hamill in the weirdest father-son team-up ever?
Obviously this is pure speculation, and we’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out how much of it is just internet posturing. Perhaps the bigger question is what it would mean for the series’ biggest villain/tragic hero to return from the dead. It would be a huge, seismic twist on the level of “Luke, I am your father” to be certain, but we’re not sure it’s one that would sit all that well with fans.Vader’s redemptive death at the end of Jedi is a lynchpin of the series, and one given extra weight once we’ve seen Anakin’s rise and fall in the prequels (regardless of quality). Bringing Vader back, even as a clone, could very well undermine that moment and thus Vader’s journey over the course of the original trilogy. Bringing back the series’ iconic villain is a hell of a way to set The Force Awakens apart in this new era of the franchise, but in a way that would cheapen the classics.
What do you guys think? Are we crazy? Take another look at the trailer and let us know.