Warning. Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi follow…
I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people – Mark Hamill included – were a little disappointed by the treatment of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. His character was far removed from what we’d previously seen, with director Rian Johnson even going so far as to have the Jedi Master consider murdering his own nephew Ben Solo in cold blood – a decision that ultimately completed Ben’s turn to the Dark Side and transformation into Kylo Ren.
Speaking to IGN, Johnson has discussed the aforementioned controversial scene, describing it as “a moment of temptation to the Dark Side for Luke”.
“The embodiment of The Dark Side, is the quick and easy path, right? It’s that glimpse of… and Luke has never been… it’s not like Luke is a Superman who’s impervious to that,” said Johnson. “Having just, even the brief moment of temptation of it, because that’s what that moment is. He doesn’t give in to the Dark Side, it’s a moment of temptation to the Dark Side. It reminds me very much of when Vader is tempting Luke, when Luke is underneath the stairs in [Return of the Jedi], lit with that very beautiful half-and-half, the duality of these two sides of him being pulled. And that’s really what that moment is for me, it’s a moment of temptation to the Dark Side for Luke.”
Another story decision that left some fans cold was Luke’s failure to assist the Resistance until his climactic confrontation with Kylo Ren via force projection – something which ultimately cost the Rebel hero his life as he became one with the force on his island on Ahch-To.
“For me growing up, I know Luke as a hero,” Johnson told Business Insider. “I know that he must think he’s doing the right thing by taking himself out of the equation, and that means he thinks the best thing for the galaxy is that he’s not a part of this and, by extension, that the Jedi are not a part of this. So that leads you down a certain path. As I worked out that his arc was going to be coming to a place where he does this big heroic act that is going to be spread throughout the galaxy — basically taking back the mantle of Luke Skywalker, a Jedi master, a legend — it just slowly became clear to me that it would be this big grand act. It would be an act of mythmaking. And if there was ever going to be a place in this entire trilogy to give him this emotional moment of a goodbye, this was probably going to be the most emotionally potent place to do it.”
Mark Hamill has been very vocal about the fact that he disagreed with Johnson’s story decisions for his character – even going so far as to proclaim that “He’s not my Luke Skywalker” – and Johnson went on to discuss Hamill’s feelings on the character’s journey in the movie:
“It wasn’t the thing he wanted to necessarily hear. Understandably so. Mark had all these years to think what Luke’s triumphant return would be. Luke’s the hero coming back into this story, and the fact that this character and this movie could not be that — this character in this movie was by necessity what he had to be, and also in relation to Rey, that brought its own necessity.”
And finally, Johnson also revealed that he expects to see Luke back in Star Wars: Episode IX, although he doesn’t have any input into where the character might go next: “I’m not sure what J.J. Abrams and [screenwriter] Chris Terrio are going to do in the next one with Luke, but setting up possibilities for the next one, honestly, it seems much like Obi-Wan going where he did after A New Hope. The possibilities seemed even more exciting in terms of what Luke’s place could be in the next chapter with him entering into this other realm as opposed to him having a lightsaber and being with our heroes. It opened more possibilities as opposed to fewer.”
In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi sees returning cast members Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix), Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke), Peter Mayhew and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Mike Quinn (Nien Nunb) and Warwick Davis joined by new additions Jimmy Vee (Pan) as R2-D2, Kelly Marie Tran (Ladies Like Us) as Rose, Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy) as DJ and Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) as Vice Admiral Holdo.