Last week, Vanity Fair released an issue packed with new information regarding Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, and one of the most intriguing pieces of information was revealed by Lucasfilm story group’s Pablo Hidalgo on. Hidalgo disclosed that Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, first passed down to Luke by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope and then discovered by Rey in The Force Awakens, is officially Rey’s property. This revelation should excite fans of The Force Awakens as well as fans of Daisy Ridley’s heroine. However, it should also give them pause.
As successful as The Force Awakens was, Lucasfilm has been criticized recently for its reluctance to stray from the old. In a sense, the company’s decision to keep Anakin’s lightsaber alive in Rey’s hand could be seen as them sticking to what’s tried at true. In fairness, there are many story benefits to Rey taking ownership of Anakin’s lightsaber. The weapon has a long history of committing great feats of heroism while also perpetrating horrific acts of violence. Handing it over to Rey offers her a choice as to which kind of weapon she wants it to be. She could use it to bring good into the world, or she could use it for destruction.
But there’s also something disappointing about Anakin’s lightsaber becoming Rey’s, especially when one considers that Rey could make her own. The Last Jedi is a long way off, as is the unnamed Episode IX. It’s too early to tell if Rey will or will not make her own saber at some point. But even though the making of one’s own lightsaber is a staple of Jedi tradition, the current state of the Jedi (and certainly their future state) is a tad nebulous at this point. If Rey has a perfectly functional lightsaber on hand, is there really any point in her constructing her own? On a practical level, maybe not. But on a character level, there’s no end to the of ways Rey building a lightsaber could serve her story.
Think of Luke’s lightsaber in Return of the Jedi. By now it’s common knowledge among Star Wars fans that Luke’s green lightsaber was strictly a filmmaking decision. It was originally meant to be blue, but green showed up better on film when put against Tatooine’s clear blue sky. And yet the color change had an inadvertently emotional effect on audiences. It represented the completion of Luke’s arc. A simple farm-boy had gone from zero to hero, and had now become a confident Jedi Knight. A green lightsaber, deviating from the blade he lost in Cloud City, signaled Luke making his own destiny. Though understated, the green lightsaber was a potent symbol.
Which brings us to Rey, specifically her role in The Last Jedi. When the first trailer for the film dropped at Star Wars Celebration, fans were stunned to hear Luke Skywalker declare that the Jedi must end. What it would mean to “end” the Jedi is a matter of speculation at this point. It could mean extinguishing Force-related establishments altogether, the way the Sith were snuffed out in Return of the Jedi. It could also mean the light side Force users need to abandon the antiquated dogma of the Jedi. Luke could just be fed up with the galaxy’s two party system and is calling for a grass roots movement to replace the absolutism of both the Jedi and the Sith. Whatever his motivation or specific goals, Luke clearly thinks it’s time for a change.
And where does Rey stand in all of this? There’s a lot of rich drama to be derived from Rey fighting to keep the legendary Jedi alive. A conflict between Rey and Luke over the pros and cons of the Jedi order could easily provide two hours of compelling drama, even if it excluded subplots about Finn and Poe. Rey, young and naive, could clash against Luke, old and cynical, until one caves completely or both reach a compromise. If the latter turns out to be true, then it will be vital for Rey to make her own lightsaber. It could symbolize the abolishment of black and white morality (or rather, red and blue). Furthermore, it would establish Rey as the ultimate agent of change in her world, once again using the new blade to symbolize a character and thematic evolution.
A lot of fuss has been made over who Rey is. Who are her parents? Is she a Skywalker? A Kenobi? Is she related to Snoke? Is she Anakin’s clone? It’ll be exciting to answer these questions, but really, who she is or was doesn’t matter. What matters most is who she decides to be. If she clings to Anakin’s lightsaber, she’s confining herself to a life that’s been decided for her. But if she makes a lightsaber of her own (a process that we’ve never seen in a Star Wars film that could prove to be visually engaging), she’ll be blazing her own trail. A lightsaber that’s truly Rey’s, by design as well as by name, could get fans’ blood pumping at lightspeed, regardless of whether it’s blue, red, green, purple, or rainbow colored. Rey should start hunting for kyber crystals for that reason alone.
Now, there are some logistical matters to attend to. It’s unclear what resources are available on Ach-To, the planet Rey lands on in The Force Awakens‘ final scene. Maybe Rey’s staff could be used for material, but if Luke is unwilling to offer Rey help and resigns to being an antisocial jerk, then the job only gets that much harder. R2 was present when Luke built his green saber and present on other journeys where Luke discovered other Jedi relics, including lightsabers, so maybe he could offer Rey a tip here or there. But Luke is the only one who could truly guide Rey in the making her own lightsaber. Otherwise she might end up with something as unwieldy and dubious as her rival Kylo Ren’s lightsaber.
But that’s all besides the larger point: It’s time for Anakin’s lightsaber… to end. Hopefully Rey doesn’t lose it the way Luke lost in in Empire Strikes Back (still gripped by her severed hand). While Star Wars has a trend of echoing past events in that matter, fans are always quick to accuse the movies of being rehashes. Maybe if Lucasfilm makes a bold choice, like have Rey destroy the lightsaber herself, then The Last Jedi stands to be a uniquely powerful entry in the Star Wars saga.
What do you think? Should Rey stick with Anakin’s lightsaber or should she make her own in The Last Jedi? Sound off in the comments!