Mark Hamill Shaved His Beard, So 'Star Wars Episode 9' Speculation Is Off The Charts

Production on Star Wars: Episode 9 is gearing up across the pond as J.J. Abrams prepares to shoot the latest installment of the Skywalker saga that began all the way back in 1977. Of course, details on what the Force Awakens director has in store for the end of the primary Star Wars storyline are under tight wraps, so that leaves fans wildly speculating about facial hair.

Mark Hamill recently took to Twitter to show off a new Sideshow Collectibles item that he was adding to his collection. The item in question is a Clown Prince of Crime cane featuring the cartoonish face of The Joker as the handle. But no one cared about the cane as much as the fact that Mark Hamill showed off his clean shaven face, and that has people desperately trying to link it to Star Wars.

Here's the tweet in question that Mark Hamill made a couple days ago:

The main reason fans are using this photo for speculation is the fact that Mark Hamill was contractually obligated to be bearded for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Since he doesn't have that trademark beard that he was sporting at the end of the movie where he met his peaceful demise, does that mean he's not coming back? Not necessarily.

Fans have long expected Luke Skywalker to make some kind of return as a Force ghost in Star Wars: Episode 9, but Mark Hamill shaving his beard seems to preclude that possibility. Of course, it wouldn't be impossible for the make-up department to create a beard that looks just like the one he grew for The Last Jedi. And having Hamill shave his beard like this would be the kind of misdirection that Abrams would sanction, much like how he had Hamill present for the Force Awakens table read despite the fact that he didn't appear until the end of the movie and had no lines.

One other possibility is that when Luke Skywalker returns as a Force ghost, he won't have the beard he donned in The Last Jedi. It might seem silly, but don't forget that when Anakin Skywalker returned as a Force ghost (at least after George Lucas made some additional changes to the Blu-ray and DVD releases of the original Star Wars trilogy), it was as his younger self, before he turned to the dark side. Of course, since Luke left this world as one with the Force, it would be unlikely that his Force ghost would need to look different from when he passed. So that seems even less likely.

Another farfetched possibility is that Mark Hamill could be clean shaven so he can shoot another Luke Skywalker flashback, perhaps one where he didn't have any kind of facial hair. A clean shaven face would allow digital artists to more easily de-age the actor so he would look younger, even younger than we saw him in the flashback scenes from The Last Jedi. But there hadn't been a flashback in the Star Wars universe until The Last Jedi, so that doesn't seem likely either.

The final and perhaps most probable explanation for a clean shaven Mark Hamill is that Warner Bros. Pictures is developing a third movie about The Joker in conjunction with the Joaquin Phoenix starring movie that just got greenlit and the Suicide Squad spin-off focusing on Jared Leto's take on the Clown Prince of Crime and his leading lady Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). In this other Joker movie, Mark Hamill reprises his role as a cartoon Joker from Batman: The Animated Series, but rather than staying animated, The Joker somehow finds himself in the real world, like Enchanted. And we get Mark Hamill, under heavy prosthetic make-up, looking like his pointy-faced animated Joker. It will be terrifying and exhilarating all at once!

I'm joking, of course. But seriously, this doesn't really tell us anything, and we'll just have to patiently wait for more solid Star Wars: Episode 9 details once the sequel starts shooting. Until then, Star Wars Episode 9 is slated for release on December 20, 2019.