The novelization for Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens with Luke Skywalker stood next to his wife on Tatooine. This is a big departure from the version of the character shown in Rian Johnson's movie and has sparked major excitement and confusion from fans, with some thinking this means Legends favorite Mara Jade is coming over to the canon. However, that's not quite the situation here.
Most Star Wars novelizations release at the same time as the film's theatrical release. That's not the case with The Last Jedi. Author Jason Fry has worked closely with Lucasfilm and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, creating what Lucasfilm is marketing as an "expanded edition", featuring longer scenes, alternate sequences, and brand new content.
The novelization is due to hit the shelves on March 6, which means advance and review copies have already been sent out. Naturally, spoilers are gradually leaking on to the Internet, especially in regards to the original content. Perhaps the most shocking is the very first line: "Luke Skywalker stood in the cooling sands of Tatooine, his wife by his side." The quote left fans reeling. Why would Luke be on Tatooine? And, of course, who is his wife?
The Wife Of Luke Skywalker
Fans of the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe were left particularly excited. Could it be that Lucasfilm was bringing fan-favorite Mara Jade back into the canon? Created by Timothy Zahn back in 1991, Mara Jade was a one-time Imperial servant who became a Jedi Knight - and ultimately married Luke Skywalker. She was one of the Expanded Universe's most beloved characters, right up there alongside Grand Admiral Thrawn and Garm bel Iblis.
It definitely seemed possible. In what is now Legends, Mara originally served as the so-called "Emperor's Hand" - elite servants of the Emperor, who have already been made canon by Star Wars Rebels; the Imperial Governor of Mandalore, Gar Saxon, held the title before his death in Season 3. If there was one Emperor's Hand, there were probably others too. Fans began to wonder whether, as in the old EU, Mara and Luke ultimately met and married. If that was the case, perhaps Mara had been killed when Kylo Ren destroyed Luke's Jedi Order.
What The Luke's Wife Quote Really Means
However, that's not what's happening here, with the quote taken out of context. According to discussions on Reddit, the opening sequence actually shows Luke lost in a daydream: he's imagining what his life could have been like had he never left Tatooine. The hero who destroyed the first Death Star, the man who redeemed Darth Vader, is filled with a nostalgic longing for the life he rejected when he saw a desperate message from an Alderaanian Senator. This wife is nothing more than a figment of Luke's troubled imagination.
That makes the character's starting point for the film even sadder; it suggests Luke is more lost in despair than fans had believed. He is looking back at the life he lived, wishing he had chosen a different path. Luke pines for a simpler life, one of family and romance, one in which he'd never learned of Leia's existence, never mentored his nephew. It's heartbreaking to realize that the hero of Yavin and Endor has truly lost his light.
It's true that a number of old Expanded Universe characters are becoming canon, but Mara Jade isn't one of them. This quote doesn't suggest Luke married; instead, it hints that he lived a solitary life, one that has gradually become filled with only regret and sorrow. If Luke could have lived his life again, he would have resisted the siren call of adventure, and would instead choose an ordinary life - until Rey turned up, that is.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019