Warning: SPOILERS Below For The Last Jedi and Logan.
When the story of Luke Skywalker came to its conclusion in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there was both a disturbance in the Force and a familiar echo for fans of the Wolverine. If you felt a nagging sense of deja vu by the time Luke expended all of his Force powers in his final confrontation with Kylo Ren, it's because we have already seen an older incarnation of a beloved hero called back to action to make his greatest sacrifice just this past year in Logan.
Not only did the titular clawed mutant hero played by Hugh Jackman go through a similar arc as Mark Hamill's Skywalker, he did it with more gravitas and resonance in Logan. This isn't to diminish the impact of how director Rian Johnson chose to depict Luke's ultimate act of heroism in The Last Jedi, nor to suggest any type of theft of ideas from Logan director James Mangold, but there are some unavoidable similarities between the films and how they each deal with their aging legends. In the final analysis, Logan's last stand edges out Luke's.
Besides being final chapters of two cinematic heroes that feature awesome displays of psychic powers and characters who have metal hands, let's take a look at all of the story beats the twilight adventures of Luke Skywalker and the Wolverine have in common. Which hero went out in a grander style?
Logan and Luke Skywalker's Exiles and "Daughters" (This Page)
AGING HEROES IN EXILE
Remorse and regret are what drive Luke and Logan into the choices they make, though in the case of the Wolverine, the remorse also comes from the 90-year-old Charles Xavier. The most powerful mutant mind in the world suffers from Alzheimer's and his psychic powers caused a tragic incident that led to the deaths of the X-Men. Logan exiled himself and Charles for their own safety in Mexico, where Charles is isolated and kept as medicated as possible. However, Logan wholly accepts responsibility for his mentor, making ends meet as a limo driver and squirreling away money to make good on his plan for even further exile: buying a boat so he and Charles and live on the sea.
Luke Skywalker isolated himself in remorse for his own greatest regret: he was frightened by Ben Solo's potential to succumb to the dark side of the Force and in a moment of weakness, tried to kill his nephew and apprentice. After Ben responded by burning the Jedi training temple, killing many of his other students, casting his lot with Supreme Leader Snoke, and becoming Kylo Ren, Luke ran away from everyone and everything. The last Jedi took refuge in the isolated world of Ahch-To, cut himself off from the Force, blamed the Jedi for its centuries of failures, and planned to die and take the Jedi religion with him.
Logan is made of sterner stuff than Luke, and that's not just meaning his failing healing factor and the adamantium coating his bones. Luke's story is of a hero wallowing in self-blame and defeat. Logan, who has lived much longer and faced far more horrors in his life, at least continued to struggle to do right by someone he cares for. It was much more difficult to rouse Luke to do the right thing than it was to get Logan to act like the hero he truly is.
YOUNG WOMEN IN NEED WHO ARE JUST LIKE THEM
Unwelcome strangers come calling for both Luke and Logan in the form of young girls with similar powers. In Logan's case, it's Laura, a female clone of the Wolverine, who is desperate for help in finding a haven for mutants in Canada where she can reunite with the other mutant children who escaped from the Transigen Project. Initially refusing the call to help because he didn't want his plan for himself and Xavier disrupted, circumstances forced Logan to go on the run with Laura and Xavier and ultimately commit to seeing her mission through. In the course of their road trip, Logan gradually accepted responsibility for Laura and found that last heroic fire of his best self.
Luke was even more reluctant to help when Rey came to Ahch-To hoping to bring the Jedi back to the fight against the First Order. His subsequent mentoring of Rey was brief, as he was concealing the truth about what happened the night he had his falling out with Kylo Ren. Rey found Luke to be a disappointment and she left Ahch-To with the ancient Jedi texts, planning to complete her training herself after she tried, misguidedly, to turn Ben Solo back to the light side of the Force. It was only after Luke made his final sacrifice that Rey saw the spark of the hero she believed in as a little girl.
Both Laura and Rey spent very short amounts of time with the aging heroes whose help they required. Laura got much more effort and sacrifice out of Logan, who gave everything he had to travel with her and keep her safe. Logan literally died trying to protect Laura. It's hard to see how Rey could regard the time she personally spent with Luke as anything more than a letdown despite the handful of lessons in the Force Luke offered her. That's not to undermine his sacrifice, but the enduring message is a more complex one.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019