Although Luke Skywalker doesn’t show up until the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, an earlier draft of the film actually featured the Jedi Master in the opening scene … or at least, a part of him.
According to a 2014 report from Birth.Movies.Death, an alternate version of the opening scene would have featured a severed hand (presumably Luke’s) holding a lightsaber floating across the screen before disintegrating and falling into the orbit of the planet Jakku. While it was never confirmed by J.J. Abrams, Mark Hamill told The Sun this week that Abrams did in fact shoot this alternate version and went into detail about how the script played out:
“I can tell you now that in the original opening shot of [Episode] 7, the first thing that came into frame was a hand with a lightsaber, a severed hand that enters the atmosphere, and then the hand and bone burns away and goes sticking into the surface of Jakku” he added. “and this alien hand comes in, don’t know if it was Maz but it was an alien hand who takes the light saber way, and then the movie proceeds as you see it.”
While it’s difficult to say whether or not this shot would have made for a better opening (the Stormtrooper drop is quite well done), it would have at least answered one of the film’s biggest mysteries, as it’s never explained how Maz Kanata came into possession of Luke’s lightsaber. Hopefully Abrams or someone from Lucasfilm will comment on this story and confirm whether or not this alternate scene can be considered canon.