Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker beard is gone. The actor is now clean shaven. He showed off a photo of himself on social media a few days ago and it's sent fans into high speculation about Star Wars 9. The actor has cleaned himself up, looking quite young and fresh faced, which is a deep concern, as the next chapter in the Skywalker saga begins shooting very soon. Surely not enough time for Mark to grow his Jedi beard back. So, is Mark Hamill really not returning for the final sequel in The Force Awakens trilogy?

Many believed Mark Hamill would return in Star Wars 9 as a Force Ghost. Perhaps his glowing blue spirit body returns clean shaven? Obi-Wan Kenobi still had his beard when we saw him as a Force Ghost. Though, on the opposite end of that spectrum, Anakin Skywalker's Force Ghost returned as his thirty-year-old self prior to his tragic lightsaber duel with Old Ben that left him limbless and burnt to a crisp. In the original theatrical cut of Return of the Jedi, Anakin was an old man when he appeared on Endor. But that got changed in the revamped later editions, with Hayden Christiansen replacing Sebastian Shaw, much to fans' chagrin.

So, perhaps Luke's Force Ghost will be a projection of his younger self. It's possible that Lucasfilm and director J.J. Abrams plan on using the same de-aging VFX magic that Disney uses in the Marvel movies. That actually makes the most sense. Some fans believe that Mark Hamill will be back for flashbacks. And there are some even wilder fan theories that Luke will be resurrected through the use of time travel.

Related: Star Wars 9 Vanity Fair Photos Reveal Luke's Return and the Epic Rise of Skywalker

Right now, story details are pretty thin when it comes to Star Wars 9. The movie will bring Rey and Kylo Ren's intersecting dramatic arcs to a close in grand fashion. We know that Finn and Poe will share a substantial scene in a bar, paying collective homage to the Catina in A New Hope, Maz Kanata's Castle and Canto Bight all at once. Keri Russell has signed on as a mystery character that many believe to be either Rey's mother or Mara Jade. And Billy Dee Williams will ride high once again as robot lover and legendary gambler Lando Calrissian.

So far, Mark Hamill has not confirmed his return as Luke Skywalker. And at the the time The Last Jedi was released in theaters, it sounded like he was done with the role. Now, many believe this clean shaven photo is his subtle and sly way of hinting at fans that his time in the Star Wars galaxy is over.

Mark Hamill showed off his clean shaven face under the guise that he was sharing a look at his latest Sideshow Collectibles score, which he's adding to his own personal collection of pop culture paraphernalia. The item in question is the very cool Clown Prince of Crime cane featuring the face of the Joker on the handle. As most fans know, Hamill famously voiced the Joker in the 90s animated Batman series, and has continued voicing the villain over the years.

While the cane was cool and everything, fans couldn't help but notice that baby face. Throughout The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Hamill was contractually obligated to keep his beard intact. It's possible that the make-up department could fashion Luke a Jedi beard out of Ox hair. But that never looks quite like the real thing. Or they could CGI a beard on his face, but that's really expensive and makes zero sense.

So far, no one at Lucasfilm or Disney is in a rush to confirm Mark Hamill's return in Star Wars 9, which will hit theaters on December 20, 2019. Perhaps he'll show up for nothing more than a cameo, or the big climax of the movie, and it's all being kept a secret. Looks like we'll just have to wait and see. With the amount of people who hated The Last Jedi, maybe Disney and Lucasfilm would be better off investing in a Rainbow Brute movie instead.

B. Alan Orange