Mark Hamill's just given everyone a reason to rewatch the prequels; looks like we're not done with the prophecy of the Chosen One just yet. The recent Entertainment Weekly preview for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was full of exciting reveals, although perhaps the most intriguing was that, prior to his fall to the dark side, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren had been singled out by Luke Skywalker as the Chosen One.
The prophecy of the one who would bring balance to the Force was first introduced in The Phantom Menace and, while the actual definition of what made someone "chosen" or even what "balance" meant was kept purposefully vague, the idea dominated the Star Wars story as it was then known. The sequel trilogy has taken us thirty years on from the originals (so over six decades after from Episode I) but it seems ancient Jedi rulings are hard to shake.
We actually knew that some elements of the mythology were coming back into play from The Force Awakens: the film opened with Lor San Tekka saying "Without the Jedi, there can be no balance in the Force", clearly indicating that notion at least was informing the new sequel trilogy arc. Hamill's new mention of the Chosen One suggests the prophecy too is still relevant even as much of the prequel history is being glossed over.
Now, it may just be a minor part of the inter-trilogy backstory that actor and Rian Johnson have created for Luke and not actually pertinent to the bigger picture, although as Ben Solo's fall and its impact on Skywalker's exile appear to be the core of The Last Jedi (and presumably Episode IX) it's a safe bet there's more to it than that. So, with that in mind, who is the Chosen One in the sequel trilogy?
Was Anakin The Chosen One?
Before even moving onto sequel trilogy characters, we need to address the bantha in the room: Anakin was the Chosen One. He was how the whole prophecy was established - Qui-Gon Jinn found an immaculately conceived child with immense Force power and convinced the Jedi Council of this potential - and by all accounts was the defined Chosen One by the time George Lucas' original six-movie series came to a close.
The entire prequel trilogy was an exploration of the inherently weak "Chosen One" trope - being predestined for greatness removes a high amount of tension - where an obsession with realizing one reading of a vague divination undid any hope of it coming to fruition; Palpatine fed on the Jedi's fear of the Sith to bring them down. But while Revenge of the Sith ends with Obi-Wan's decrying of Anakin's potential - "You were the Chosen One, etc. etc." - this only reframes the original trilogy's redemption as an ultimate proof of the prophecy; Vader did eventually bring down the Sith.
Of course, fans have debated the true meaning ever since the idea was first raised. Anakin did technically bring balance in the end but how much of that can be put on his son? And, really, what even is "balance"? Surely it's an equal, well, balance between light and dark, something the destruction of the Sith and with it the most powerful dark Force users explicitly doesn't create. The vagueness of the prophecy worked for Lucas' meta-narrative, but his less-than adept writing on the prequels created plenty of ideology gaps.
All these philosophical strands of the mythology have been tackled head-on in The Clone Wars and Rebels. The Mortis arc in the former created a literal microcosm of the Force dichotomy that explored pre-destination and duty; being the Chosen One was presented to Anakin as a choice, something he initially refused but through grappling with embodiments of light and dark eventually answered his call. As representative at it may have been, the final episode of the story framed Anakin as on the path of being the galaxy's savior but with the distinct possibility of a turn.
This was returned to in Rebels in Maul's quest for Kenobi; the former-Sith hunted down his rival only to be easily bested, with his dying breath asking if the boy he'd discovered Obi-Wan was protecting was indeed the Chosen One, to which the Jedi responded in the affirmative. Of course, at that point in the timeline, Anakin was consumed by Vader and we know from all three original films Obi-Wan never considered redemption, so this is hardly confirmation either way.
Bringing the points explored in the prequels and the two animated shows together, though, and we have a situation where Anakin may have been the Chosen One (or was and opted out, so to speak), but the exact truth is unclear; Luke appears to have felt his father hadn't actually balanced the Force and began to find the real One. And so, we now have a sequel trilogy where a new Chosen One could emerge.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019