Production only began less than a week ago and the Star Wars Episode IX guessing game is already in full frenzy. Rumors abound over who Keri Russell and Richard E. Grant will portray, and who was in the pilot’s seat in the obscured set photo J.J. Abrams tweeted out on day one of filming. The bulk of the speculation right now is centered on the fact that Mark Hamill’s name was on the official cast roster, meaning Luke Skywalker will appear in the film in one form or another. The question is how?

Clone Luke

We pretty much knew in advance of The Force Awakens that the character would take on the stereotypical “aged Jedi” appearance in that the actor was seen out and about sporting a full beard. Mark Hamill has been clean shaven as of late, however, leading to the theory that he will appear as a Force ghost along the lines of the Jedi ghost appearances at the end of Return of the Jedi. Fueling this notion is the rumor that he’s to have a scene with both Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.

Clone LukeHere’s where we enter the “what if” portion of our program. What if the reason Mark Hamill is clean shaven is not because he’ll appear as a Force ghost, but rather will feature in the film as a clone Luke Skywalker?

We’ve seen a clone Luke before.

Timothy Zahn wasn’t shy about using the concept to cap off the Thrawn Trilogy in The Last Command, with deranged Jedi Master Joruus C’baoth, a clone himself, having created a duplicate of the younger Skywalker using DNA from the severed hand he lost in the clouds high over Bespin.

Marvel Star Wars: The Last Command #6 (Baron/Biukovic/Shanower)

In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata was dismissive when Han asked her how she came by Luke’s original lightsaber, telling Han only that it was “a good question for another time.” Clearly, there’s more to that story, one upon which Maz could expound in Star Wars Episode IX should a clone Luke Skywalker make an appearance.

Something to ponder.