It’s pretty clear by now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were the products of two different visions, with Rian Johnson’s sequel taking the saga on a divisive path after J.J. Abrams’ trilogy-starter played things relatively safe. Nonetheless, the internet has a habit of going a little overboard in its narratives, and while Johnson gets a lot of flak for his surprising depiction of later-years Luke, a new Twitter thread makes the case that the filmmaker’s plan for the character wasn’t that drastic a diversion from what Abrams had in mind.
Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak opened his thread with some old concept art, dated 2013, which shows off a bearded Luke Skywalker that’s not too far removed from Mark Hamill’s appearance from The Force Awakens. Accompanying this photo is a quote from design supervisor Christian Alzmann:
“My first image I made for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This was January of 2013. Luke was being described as a Col. Kurtz type hiding from the world in a cave… I got a George ‘Fabulouso’ on it to boot.”
Bet you never thought you’d see the day where the franchise’s most famous Jedi draws a comparison to the villain from Apocalypse Now.
Anyway, Szostak goes on to share a couple more 2013 quotes from concept artist Doug Chiang, in which the early plans for what would ultimately become The Last Jedi are laid out:
“At this point in the story, thirty years after the fall of the Empire, Luke has gone to a dark place. He always had this potential dark side within him, being that his father was Darth Vader. So he is really struggling with that.”
“He ended up secluding himself in this Jedi temple on a new planet, and he’s just there meditating, reassessing his whole life. Gradually, over the arc of the movie, he rediscovers his vitality and comes back to himself.”
If you didn’t like Star Wars: The Last Jedi before reading these quotes, then chances are your mind remains unchanged, but seeing how the rough outline of Luke’s arc evidently existed years before The Force Awakens reached cinemas, surely there’s only so much blame you can heap on Johnson.