2017 is the year of Episode VIII and we’re only a couple months away from some big reveals about the movie. We could get the title as early as March 8th at the Disney Annual Meeting as Iger likes to give a Star Wars surprise at that (like he did with the Rogue One title), and then we’ll get our first teaser trailer on April 13th at Celebration.
As all of that is beginning, we’re also likely to see the first big spoilers about the movie leak out. And before that happens it’s important to look back at the internet’s reaction to one of the biggest ones from The Force Awakens; specifically the role of Luke Skywalker in it.
Prior to the start of 2015, most Star Wars fans expected Luke Skywalker to have a huge role in the movie. After thirty-two years, fans wanted to see Jedi Master Luke Skywalker play a huge role in Episode VII.
That idea changed in February of 2015. Latino Review made a small mention in a story that Luke wasn’t in Episode VII as much as people thought. With that idea floating in the ether of the Internet, MakingStarWars published a story clarifying it and stating that Luke only had one major appearance in the movie: at the very end.
Fans went completely insane when they read the spoiler. MakingStarWars was inundated with death threats over posting the spoiler about Luke not having the role people dreamt of in Episode VII. One person even called a film blog’s owner and tried to get them to write a piece saying that the spoiler wasn’t true. It was a crazy period of disbelief.
It tied into the spoiler of Han Solo’s death. Fans couldn’t accept that JJ Abrams wouldn’t reunite the “big three” on the big screen before killing Han. There’s no way they would let Han die before being reunited with Luke. That idea right there was part of the reason fans refused to accept the spoiler, and the remainder of the year up until release was filled with bogus rumors about a huge role for Luke in the movie as well as sites trying to debunk the spoiler.
In May of 2015, a user from the Jedi Council Forums compiled all of MakingStarWars’ scoops about the movie in one post that was spread around the internet. At that time Slashfilm reported on the post, but took one major dig against it:
“Also keep in mind that aside from the correct details in this meticulous compilation of rumors, there are some pieces of information that are completely wrong too. Thereâ€™s one particular big piece of information in here that is in no way correct.“
(They were referring to Luke’s role.)
As we got closer to San Diego Comic Con in 2015, where Lucasfilm showed the behind-the-scenes wrap party video for the movie, people on the internet were certain we’d get a huge look at Luke in the movie. A Reddit hoaxer who went by 00—–00 fooled the Star Wars Leaks subreddit into thinking they were getting a big trailer that would dispel MakingStarWars rumors, specifically saying that Jason Ward would be “f*cked”.
Even information that leaked out that was correct gave a false impression of Luke’s role in the movie. StarWarsNewsNet talked about three costumes for Luke on one of their podcasts that year. People took this as confirmation that Luke had a big role in the movie, when in reality the costumes were just for the flashback and the final scene. There was originally a flashback to Luke in Bespin fighting Vader, and that Bespin outfit was one made for the younger version of Star Wars’ original warrior.
This madness didn’t even stop the week of the premiere. A user on the “Box Office Theory” forums convinced a lot of people online that he had seen the movie the week of the official premiere, and told people on the forum (via private messages) that Luke was “all over” the third act of the movie. Thankfully the movie premiered for real a day or so later and those claims were quickly exposed for what they were.
The role of Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens was a blunt reminder that internet fan fiction and headcanon is usually the exact opposite of what the filmmakers are deciding to do with the Sequel Trilogy. It’s something to remember when hoping for big helpings of fan service to satisfy the Sequel Trilogy fans have made in their head. There may be some familiar elements in Episode VIII, but the end product is going to be a lot different than what some fans may try to get the internet to believe.