“Darkness Rises…And Light To Meet It”
There are plenty of cases where Luke is depicted as an enthusiastic and compassionate individual in the Star Wars saga. Therefore, The Last Jedi’s director and writer Rian Johnson had to provide a sufficient reason for this man to shut himself away prior to The Force Awakens. And we soon find out what caused his exile through two different viewpoints.
In Luke’s idealized version, he calmly confronted Ben Solo, who then turned on him. In Kylo Ren’s memory, meanwhile, a sadistic Luke tried to kill him and Kylo reacted defensively. Then, Luke reluctantly recalls the truth: that yes, he briefly considered murdering his nephew to prevent the horrors which would result from his fall to the Dark Side, but decided against it. It’s clear that we’re intended to believe the latter because, let’s face it, Luke’s far more trustworthy than Kylo Ren.
Like Rey, we viewers are saddened as we familiarize ourselves with a distressed Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. Indeed, it’s upsetting that Luke verges close towards the Dark Side during this fateful encounter, and inadvertently assists the First Order through his inaction. But some commentators see this despairing, darkness-tinged Jedi Master as an insult to the Luke of the EU and previous movies.
Moreover, if you prescribed to another lot of online hyperbole, you’d find that Luke is seen as a Jesus-esqe figure; a paragon of kindness, goodness and optimism. Sure, he does exemplify these qualities on many occasions in Star Wars, there’s no denying that. But this viewpoint is especially strange considering how the EU Luke actually full-on turned to the Dark Side for a while in Star Wars: Dark Empire. Have goodness and virtue always been Luke’s sole defining attributes? Absolutely not.
We’re first introduced to Luke in A New Hope, where he typifies many adolescent stereotypes. Indeed, fans have joked about the many occasions where our hero whines, with particular reference to power converters and moping in front of binary sunsets. Luke does mature through the series, but to assume again that Skywalker junior is full of virtue is unwise. Despite his aptitude, he constantly struggles against the strictures of the “good” Jedi Order.
Furthermore, as we learn through Return of the Jedi, Luke’s duel with Darth Vader left a considerable impact upon his psyche. He strays perilously close to the Dark Side in the movie, using aggressive Sith-favorite moves like Force-choke against Jabba’s Gamorrean guards. Plus, he very nearly kills Darth Vader out of sheer rage in the film’s climax, before resisting the lure of the Dark Side. Instead, Luke defeats two powerful Sith Lords through empathy, and in doing so he helps save the galaxy. And this is crux of the Luke Skywalker controversy – the distinction between the man and the myth of his actions.