Yep, We’re Gonna Talk About Star Wars Today
If you come to this blog for updates on my baby, don’t expect them here.
I’m a nerd. Sometimes I just want to talk about Star Wars.
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Luke Skywalker might be my favorite character in all of Star Wars (though Ewan’s Obi-Wan is a close call).
When I was younger, I used to hate him in A New Hope, because I considered him “Whiny and boring,” before he got better in Empire and Jedi.
Later on in my life, when I started to appreciate story structure and character development, I realized that Luke’ naivete in A New Hope is just the perfect beginning to his growth as a person
Luke in the Original Trilogy
He starts out as an annoying little kid who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else (just like Anakin), before he discovers that the universe is way bigger, way stranger, and way more complex than he could have imagined, not the least of which is the discovery of The Force and his connection to it.
Throughout The Empire Strikes Back, we watch Luke learn about the nature of the Force, including the powerful Dark Side.
Then in Return of the Jedi, we watch him tilt back and forth between the Light and the Dark.
In his anger, he nearly murders his own father, and in interviews, George Lucas has admitted that he toyed with the idea of having Luke fall completely to the Dark Side. Finally, he turns away from the Dark and shows mercy.
Luke in The Last Jedi
I was excited beyond belief to have Luke back for Episode VIII, and couldn’t wait to see how they continued his character arc. We already knew he ended up in exile like Yoda and Obi-Wan, but what brought him there?
And I walked out of the theater just blown away. I was sad that Luke was gone, but it was like every beat of his life was perfect. I was already starting to think this was my favorite Star Wars movie.
Then the Internet happened…
But the weird thing was, every major complaint I heard (especially against Luke) was something I thought was a brilliant creative choice.
Luke Turns on Kylo
I think this is people’s biggest complaint. “Luke tries to murder a child!” Well, not really… at all.
First off, Luke explicitly says that in a blind moment of weakness that passed instantly, his instinct told him to protect the galaxy from the Dark Side of the force. This is a character who saw what the Dark Side’s power had done to the galaxy. He held his only family’s smoking skeleton in the wreckage of the only home he had ever known. He was almost murdered by his father (on 3 separate occasions!) He met the emperor and almost joined him in conquering the galaxy!
People act like Luke has been this altruistic messiah character up until now, but his major arc throughout the original trilogy is almost falling to the Dark Side.
Yes, he did manage to overcome the temptation of the Dark Side at the end of Return of the Jedi, but why would the temptation suddenly end forever? Does the temptation of ultimate power over good and evil in the galaxy ever stop calling when it’s literally at Luke’s fingertips?
Take Mace Windu for example. We know he was a powerful Jedi master with a deep connection to the Force. He was on the last Jedi Counsel for crying out loud!
But (in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) when he meets this embodiment of the Dark Side in Emperor Palpatine, every fiber of his being says to protect the Light. Committing this act would let the Dark Side take him over, but it’s a Jedi’s duty to protect life from the Dark.
But of course, Luke is good. He dedicated his life to protecting the Light and training a new generation of Jedi continue protecting it from the Dark.
Then he saw the Dark Side’s new “chosen one.” A power that could tear the universe in half just like the Emperor had done all those years ago. Just like Windu, the Force whispers in his ear, “Protect the Light,” but unlike Windu, the moment passes and he turns away from the Dark Side again. But it’s too late. The damage has been done. And in his act of mercy, he dooms the galaxy, and goes into exile out of shame.
That’s why the Jedi need to end. Because the Light Side comes with a paradoxical responsibility. You can’t protect the galaxy from the Dark Side, without turning to the Dark Side yourself.
Luke’s not evil, but he’s walked the edge between Light and Dark his entire life. That’s the nature of the Skywalker bloodline. Great strength in the Force means a powerful connection to both sides.
Luke Didn’t Want to Train Rey
Luke holds himself responsible for training the next great emissary of the Dark Side and dooming the galaxy. So when he meets someone with just as much power, someone who also walks the edge of Light and Dark, it’s his greatest fear landing on his doorstep again, no matter how far he runs.
He doesn’t see her as the “good guy” who will save the galaxy from Kylo. He sees Rey as another potential great doom to life in the universe. And he can’t be responsible for bringing her to power.
Luke Didn’t Fight Kylo
This one doesn’t make any sense. The same people who are upset that Luke drew his lightsaber on Kylo in the hut are mad that Luke didn’t go full Dark Side and kill his own nephew in the finale.
What kind of character arc would that be? Luke spends his life trying to overcome the Dark Side and show mercy. He turns away even in the times of greatest temptation, then in his final hour, he tries to kill the “bad guy” just because he’s the “bad guy.”
No, Luke finds a way to protect hope and Light in the galaxy by using Kylo’s anger against him. Luke literally turns the Dark Side back on its own pupil to protect the galaxy’s only hope. And he does it without succumbing to the Dark Side himself.
In Luke’s final act, he truly becomes the greatest Jedi who ever lived. A Jedi craves not revenge, nor retribution, nor even justice. A Jedi protects life. Anything less is an act of the Dark Side.
Luke Skywalker was a Jedi. Greater even than his father or his masters Obi-Wan or Yoda. And his end was perfect.
Star Wars and Kids
Are your kids going to get any of this “character arc” stuff when they’re little?
No, of course not.
But you know what your kids are going to see? They’re going to see a man who constantly has the option to take the path of violence to save everything, but constantly turns away and does the right thing.
They’re going to learn that a real hero doesn’t need to hit his enemies with a sword to protect what he loves. Mercy is the true hero’s greatest asset.