Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson defends his polarizing depiction of Luke Skywalker by saying it's "consistent" with the original trilogy. Nearly a year after Episode VIII hit theaters, it remains a lightning rod for passionate debates, as fans go back and forth on its various pros and cons. Undoubtedly, the way Luke was written was a sticking point for many longtime viewers. After becoming a Jedi Knight and saving his father from the dark side in the classic films, many were surprised to see Luke as a bitter recluse who turned his back from the fight.
Luke finally came around (after some prodding from Yoda) and aided the Resistance in what was an inspiring, self-sacrificial gesture. But before that moment, he seemed quite different. One moment in particular some took issue with was the revelation Luke contemplated killing Ben Solo, a lapse in judgement that hastened Ben's transformation into Kylo Ren. This was seen as a drastic change to Luke's character, but Johnson believes it's in line with the previous movies.
On Twitter, Johnson responded to a user criticizing the portrayal of Luke in The Last Jedi, explaining how he drew from the past to inform Skywalker's actions. Check out his post below:
Johnson does make a good point. Fans like to think of Luke as a noble hero, but he's always had his flaws. As the original trilogy illustrates, Luke was an impulsive person who made knee-jerk reactions. The most prominent example comes in The Empire Strikes Back, when he abandoned his Jedi training in an ill-fated attempted to save Han Solo and Princess Leia, but there are others. Upon realizing the Empire learned who the Jawas sold R2-D2 and C-3PO to in A New Hope, Luke had no second thoughts about speeding back to the Lars family homestead (even though he wouldn't have offered much resistance against stormtroopers). Even in Return of the Jedi, when his mission is to bring Darth Vader back to the light side, Luke became consumed in rage as Vader taunted him with the idea of Leia becoming a Sith. After overpowering Vader, Luke needed to stop himself and regain his composure.
Obviously, fleeing to a remote corner of the galaxy to die in isolation is a much more extreme instance, but the severity of that situation cannot be overstated. For a fleeting moment, Luke impulsively thought he could spare the universe from the atrocities of Kylo Ren and then was overcome with shame. He had failed his nephew, the child of his two best friends. Han and Leia trusted Luke to help Ben, and things didn't go as planned. Luke felt he could only do more damage than good after the "Jedi way" spawned two ultimate evils (Vader and Kylo) and went into exile. He rarely saw the big picture in front of him, but fortunately Luke ultimately learned how important a teacher failure is and helped set Rey on the right path.
Source: Rian Johnson
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019