Inspired by The Star Wars Minute, I present this theory of the Star Wars universe which explains several inconsistencies in the storyline of episodes 4-6.
Force ghosts aren’t real.
All force ghosts and ghost voices in the six films are projections created by R2-D2 to motivate Luke to continue his studies after the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
With only one easily-explained exception, R2-D2 is present for every appearance of a force ghost, including when Luke hears their voices. As well as addressing what is the most overtly metaphysical part of the series, this theory also explains Ben’s lack of helpful teaching and R2’s omissions of his past relationships with both Ben and Yoda.
A New Hope
Luke hears Obi-Wan speak four times after his death, beginning with “run, Luke, run.” In all of these cases, R2-D2 is present. Only in the case of the escape from the Death Star, a moment of chaos, is anyone else present when Luke hears Ben’s voice.
In fact, when Luke hears Ben’s voice in his X-Wing he taps his ear piece thinking the voice is coming through his comms. That’s because it is! R2-D2, having great experience with the powers of Jedi, knows that Luke’s natural talents will win the battle and taps into Luke’s system to impart words of encouragement.
Empire Strikes Back
Luke’s vision of Ben on Hoth can be dismissed as a near-death experience. As seen in the script, Luke is unsure if he is hallucination (he is).
I am unsure how Luke knew the name of Dagobah, but presumably Ben mentioned it on the long journey to Alderaan and Luke is only now remembering.
The next time Luke sees Ben, Yoda is present. Here we come to a core conundrum – why doesn’t Yoda know that the force ghost isn’t real. Answer – he does.
Yoda, having worked with R2 during the last days of the Republic, understands R2’s plan and plays along. Yoda knows that Luke will need the support of his lost father figure to fulfil his training and only through the benevolent deceit of R2 can they be sure they keep Luke from the dark side.
Ben takes no role in Luke’s training, which seems odd unless you consider that “he” only holds the information that R2 holds. R2, not being a Jedi, can only offer encouragement and not information.
Ben’s force ghost is briefly seen as Luke’s X-Wing takes off and has an exchange with Yoda. This is clearly not for Luke’s benefit. R2 is using the projection to speak to Yoda to plan the next stage – the possible training of Leia if Luke fails. As the x-wing lifts off, the ghost disappears, now out of range of R2’s hidden projection unit.
Ben, as you may recall, informs Luke that if Luke faces Darth Vader Ben cannot interfere. Of course he can’t! He’s just a holographic projection from R2.
Return of the Jedi
Here we hit our maximum of three force ghosts, all of which are only seen when R2 is nearby.
In the final scene, R2 projects the three ghosts to reassure Luke and provide closure. The ghosts do not speak as R2 has no voice records of Annikin or Yoda to suit the situation.
The Force Awakens
No R2. No force ghosts. Ta-da.
Force ghosts have long been problematic. How do they become ghosts? Why can’t they interfere? Who gets to be a ghost? I believe I have made it clear that force ghosts being holographic projections makes far more sense than the plot-hole filled obvious narrative.
I welcome comments that run counter to the theory I have proposed. It seems quite clear to me that the reason force ghosts make little sense is that they, in fact, do not exist.
I applaud R2’s innovative ideas and his heroism in aiding Luke’s training.
-Keith Callbeck is the co-host of the We Talk Comics podcast and, so far, has not been invited to be a guest host on the Star Wars Minute.