Luke Was Originally Going To Destroy His X-Wing In Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi rewards careful viewers, and one of the more interesting and subtle moments was spotting Luke Skywalker’s iconic X-Wing sunken in the shores off his island home on Ahch-To. I was thinking about why we saw this and, aside from explaining how Luke got there in the first place, it functions as a red herring to preserve the twist of Luke’s Force projection in the finale. After all, without a working ship there’s no way he can leave the planet (and we already know the X-Wing can survive immersion in water from Empire).

But, according to the book The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, its appearance was originally to have been far more prominent. It was film designer and artist Doug Chiang who originally created concept art showing Luke’s X-Wing underwater, but art director Kevin Jenkins wanted to take things in a slightly different direction, and explained the following:

“‘I wanted to tell a slightly different story: As Rey finds Luke on the island, maybe she stumbles into these caves and upon the X-wing, rather than seeing it from a distance. In 2014, he wrote, ‘Rey explores the island, trying to understand Luke’s self-imposed exile from the universe. She comes across a cave, sunk at high tide within the base of the island. Here she discovers Luke’s scuttled T-65 X-wing, rusted and rotting away in the water. It was set alight before it sank. It shows Luke’s commitment to his exile, as he destroyed his only means of leaving the planet.’ In the end, Rian Johnson chose designs more similar to Chiang’s initial painting of the sunken starfighter just off the coast of the island.”

Rey coming across the derelict, destroyed X-Wing sounds like an extremely powerful scene, cementing how Luke has permanently turned his back on the optimistic hero we know from the original trilogy and that he’d physically cut himself off from the galaxy. It also slots in neatly alongside The Force Awakens’ ship graveyard on Jakku, where Rey symbolically and literally scrabbles a living.

It’s a great idea, but I think Rian Johnson made the right call in keeping things ambiguous. After all, the moment when Luke reveals that he never left the island is one of the best moments in the film. There are already enough clues that he’s not real at the end (his ‘classic Luke’ haircut, not kicking up the salt on Crait and using Anakin’s recently destroyed lightsaber) – and him mysteriously arriving despite his X-Wing being destroyed beyond repair might have given the game away too soon.

Still, it’s a fascinating bit of behind the scenes info and Star Wars fans are sure to appreciate it.

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