Something's been bothering us about all the recent Star Wars goodies.
First there was the new poster; the glorious, Drew Struzan-style poster, crammed to the lighstaber hilt with hints and winks as to The Force Awakens' storyline.
Then we got a new trailer; a lens-flare-fest of ominous stares and dramatic dialogue.
Both of them share one perplexing, tantalising detail - or lack thereof. There's no Luke Skywalker.
And this, dear reader, is our theory as to why.
Luke has turned to the Dark Side
Now stick with us on this - it's not just some half-baked theory we overheard from some scruffy looking nerf herder. We've got some 'fact dots' through which we've joined our theoretical line.
First up is the aforementioned...
Lack of Luke
We've only "seen" Luke once in the various teasers and trailers dropped so far - a voice-over from Mark Hamill uttering some words we'll get onto in a bit.
Despite being confirmed from the outset that Hamill would be in the film, J J Abrams is appearing to keep all details on Luke as secret as possible.
Luke is Abrams' trump card; it's Luke's story that is set to act as the major hinge of The Force Awakens, his plight that's set to dictate much of the action.
So what's the biggest twist Abrams could get from Luke's story, the "I am your father" moment?
That he's dead, only present as a Force ghost to guide some new Jedi? That's pants.
That he's actually Kylo Ren? That doesn't make sense - Adam Driver has already been photographed as Kylo sans mask.
That he's not the Luke we remember? There's something in that. What if he's gone Dark?
There are plenty of storylines in the wider world of Star Wars fiction that see Luke go evil: there was a series of Dark Empire comics that saw Luke turn all Sith to lead a new Empire, (not unlike the First Order shown off in the new trailers) while other fiction sees him become the apprentice of a resurrected Emperor.
If Luke is going to bring the biggest twist of the new film, we think it's going to be something to do with a new aligning of our former hero.
The original Star Wars trilogy (and that other trilogy we're trying our best to forget) had a loose focus on one Jedi prophecy of the 'Chosen One' - that one powerful figure would destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force.
The Jedi first pinned their hopes on Anakin - before he went all dark and killed a bunch of Younglings (worst name EVER). Hopes were then passed on to his children, Leia and Luke, before things went full-circle and Anakin/Darth had a moment of crisis and killed Emperor Palpatine in the final moments of Return of the Jedi, thus fulfilling the prophecy.
But things got pretty dark for Luke during battle - indeed, he seemed to feel the pull of the dark side at several moments in the original trilogy.
We're proposing that Luke's absence from the poster, the trailer and the revealed story of The Force Awakens has something to do with old Skywalker slipping down a path his father was unable to resist. Much like his 'Chosen One' pops, bringing balance to the Force might see Luke begin to dabble in both the light and the dark.
With Luke feeling the pull of evil, we propose he surrenders his lightsaber and buggers off into a self-imposed exile to dwell darkly in some unknown corner of the universe.
This, in turn, is why the Darth-Vader obsessed Knights of Ren, led by Kylo (the chap in the mask) are eager to find Luke, as are young Finn and Rey - two Force-sensitive kids apparently unaware of the history of Luke, Vader and the Jedi, one of whom could well be related to Luke. They all want a taste of Luke's Force knowledge - either dark or light.
Sins of the father
As mentioned above, we've heard from Luke once in previous The Force Awakens trailers, muttering the following:
The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power too.
It's a direct parallel of a line that Luke gave in Return of the Jedi, when he revealed to Leia that she had the potential to be a Jedi:
You're wrong, Leia. You have that power too. In time you'll learn to use it as I have. The Force runs strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And... my sister has it.
In Return Of The Jedi this is morale boosting revelation, but if this times it's a warning. It's Luke telling someone that they have the ability to use the Force - the inference of "my family" would point toward his own child, or the offspring of Leia and Han Solo.
So following this thread, the line of dialogue would suppose that Luke might have left his child/niece/nephew this message while on his slippery slope to evilness, along with an additional warning of what happened to his father and himself - a message he leaves inside R2-D2, much like Leia did years before, hence that scene we get in the trailer.
By putting his dark self in exile (maybe even contemplating suicide?), he wants to leave his child/niece/nephew with the ability to pick their own destiny rather than follow in his own footsteps. Because as we've seen so far, when the Skywalker family get together, bad things happen to good people.
Heck, he could even be driven a bit potty over living alone for so long: just as Anakin went mad at the death of his Padmé, Luke might be driven to distraction that the only woman he ever got close to dating was his own sister. Seeing her kid run around with Force abilities might tip him over the edge.
There's another option that Luke Skywalker isn't in hiding at all, that he's not really that ashamed of his dark powers and that he's actually the new figure behind the Knights of Ren - successors to the Sith, of whom Kylo Ren is a member.
Luke is the link that makes this possible, the heir to both the old Empire and the new First Order, dabbling with both sides before being overcome by the dark (just like Daddy) and overseeing the construction of a new Death-Star-like base. Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis, could be Luke's puppet leader, or more likely, close adviser. Perhaps he's also a former jaded Jedi.
That means the line that Kylo Ren delivers in the new trailer, that of...
Nothing will stand in our way. I will finish what you started.
...isn't Ren declaring his evil agenda as the new Darth Vadar, it's Ren reporting to Luke, telling him that he'll get the job done because Luke is his boss. Luke is the new bad guy and between him, Ren and Snoke, nothing will stand in their way.
Tell us what you think.