Another quiet night on Discord, and my friends and I stumble on to the subject of fan theories. “Have you heard the one about how Sean Connery in The Rock is actually James Bond?” someone says. Oh my god, I think to myself, that makes sense! He even looks like James Bond …
“I’ve got one,” someone else chimes in. “Have you heard of Bigger Luke?” We all give a sort of digital shrug. A link is posted in chat. I click. An internet wormhole immediately opens and swallows me whole.
The Bigger Luke Hypothesis (or BL or BgL for short) is perhaps the most beautifully absurd fan theory of all time. The basic premise is that there are, in fact, two Luke Skywalkers that appear in the original Star Wars trilogy, one about 2 to 3cm taller than the other one.
Pause for reaction.
According to BL’s official wiki page, which emerged mysteriously in late 2015, one of these Lukes is Regular Luke (or “Luke Prime”) and the other is a “slightly larger manifestation” known to the community as “Bigger Luke”.
Luke Prime is the Luke Skywalker we know and love – he of the faraway gaze and complex father issues – who appears in the majority of scenes. Bigger Luke is a kind of shadowy doppelganger who (allegedly) pops into frame now and then, and whose very existence hints at a deeper, or perhaps larger, reality.
It’s unclear whether Bigger Luke is a sincere fan theory or a lovingly crafted, elaborate meme (my money’s on meme). The first evidence of the hypothesis seems to be an archived Reddit thread from 2015. “Is Bigger Luke an actual theory or is it just a joke?” someone asks, clearly confused. “It’s true, all of it,” someone else responds. “The bigger Luke. The smaller Luke. It’s all true.” (By this point I’m deep in the wormhole, dishevelled, sleep-deprived, eyes wide as saucers; my browser is bristling with tabs.)
Like all good internet theories, there is evidence a-plenty, if you know where to look. Fans have combed through A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (a process known as “Luking”) to find concrete proof that Bigger Luke exists. This is usually accomplished by measuring Luke Skywalker against standardised metrics, like the height of Han Solo. Han has become the default yardstick for Bigger Luke theorists. Screenshots that don’t include Luke and Han standing side-by-side are dubbed “No Han Pics” (NHP) and carry less evidentiary weight.
And it’s sort of true … if you squint really hard. In several scenes, the top of Luke’s head does appear to sit level with Harrison Ford’s brow, while in others it’s closer to his chin. This may be perspective, or a kink in the Death Star’s artificial gravity, or, you know, the actor crouching slightly. But – and this is the oxygen that fuels all good conspiracy bonfires – what if it’s not?
Still not convinced? How about Obi-Wan’s famous line, delivered with cryptic understatement by the great Sir Alec Guinness: “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” Or when Princess Leia, with a meaningful arch of the brow, says to Luke, “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” There’s even a fleeting moment in The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke arrives at Cloud City and Lando Calrissian sees him for the second time. Lando’s eyes appear to narrow, perplexed, as if there’s something troubling about Luke. “Being the proficient card player and gambler that he is,” the wiki continues, “one would assume that Lando Calrissian had a very keen eye, perhaps the best eyes in the galaxy. It is therefore distinctly possible that Lando … would perceive a height change in Luke.”
Your first question, after a moment of stunned silence, might be, “But, why?!” Well there are two ideological camps, both convinced the other is a few parsecs short of a Kessel Run. The first, known as the Canon Luke Hypothesis, believes that (within the Star Wars universe) there really does exist a second, larger Luke Skywalker. The other theory is known as The Hamill Hypothesis, and posits that it’s not Luke who is bigger, but the actor Mark Hamill himself, and that an uncredited (and very slightly taller) Mark Hamill lookalike was used in the original trilogy “for undisclosed reasons”.
Hamill has cheerfully weighed in on the conspiracy, posting on Instagram, “It’s hard to believe how long we were able to fool everyone, but to be fair: the only time both of us appeared together at the same time was with Kermit on The Muppet Show.”
Of course, there is a third theory … a rebel hypothesis so dark and twisted that it’s dismissed outright by most dedicated “Lukers”. Maybe Regular Luke wasn’t Luke Prime at all; maybe he was merely a smaller Luke, and the real Skywalker was Bigger Luke all along. (This theory, known as The Smaller Luke Hypothesis, is “considered controversial,” the wiki is quick to clarify, “and is generally despised amongst the Bigger Luke community, who claim it is merely a misunderstanding of perspective”.)
So, Bigger Luke Hypothesis: legitimate fan theory or satirical meta-prank? It almost doesn’t matter. As with all good internet wormholes, it’s Lukes all the way down.