The case against
While audiences have known for the past 30 years that Luke Skywalker is the last Jedi, we have only recently learned, in the prequel trilogy, what the Jedi Code entails – including, critically, the policy of no emotional attachments, particularly when it comes to matters of romance or marriage. Thus, Luke’s settling down with a woman (it can be out of wedlock now, with Lucas – and his insistence on classic/mythological storytelling – out of the picture) would instantly make the storyline a major break of continuity, undercutting the narrative structural integrity of the entire saga.
That is, unless this was precisely the point of the development. It could very well be that Kennedy and her cadre of directors and writers have made this the underlying reason of Luke’s shame and guilt and self-imposed exile. For the first 19 years of his life – if not more, depending on how complete Ben Kenobi’s (Alec Guinness) or Yoda’s (Frank Oz) training was – the kid had no idea that he would be forbidden to enter a relationship. Maybe he couldn’t resist the temptation before creating the new Jedi Order, and, afterwards, when it all falls apart, he blames the failure on his lack of self-control and sees no other option than to flee his responsibility to both himself and the entire rest of the galactic community.
This would certainly resolve the continuity problem, but it would also open up a whole other can of worms, such as placing Luke’s hallowed sense of morality and Jedi justice into far more dubious light. We know the question of “Who is Luke Skywalker?” is what tempted J.J. Abrams into directing and co-writing The Force Awakens, but would audiences be ready for such a drastically different interpretation of the character, especially after so many decades of adventures across so many different media?
Speaking of which, there is the little matter of precedent to contend with. In the original iteration of the Expanded Universe (that vast collection of novels, comic books, short stories, and videogames), Luke did, indeed, marry and have a son – named Ben, incidentally – which would mean that making Rey his offspring could be derivative as well as contrived. The story would be too expected within the confines of the canon, and it would be too repetitive of the larger “Legends” community – if, indeed, the filmmakers pay any sort of attention to it whatsoever, which all evidence thus far most definitely points against.
That, really, goes to the heart of the challenge that Kennedy and her vanguard have in continuing the Star Wars saga not only for this current trilogy, but for a possible fourth one, as well (should Disney get its way and the fanbase support it financially): how much of a new approach to old material can/will/should they introduce? Having Rey be a member of a whole new, Force-powerful family, perhaps one that also was active during the key parts of galactic history (the Clone Wars, the Galactic Civil War, et al.), would simultaneously be an unforeseen twist and open up the story to a whole new – but still thematically resonant – set of narrative avenues to explore.
As is the case with most endeavors in human existence, there are both advantages and hazards to either approach – but which do you think would make for the better story, both in terms of this trilogy and the overarching saga? Which would you pursue if you were in Kathleen Kennedy’s shoes?
Be sure to let us all know in the comments below.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.