Jar Jar Binks. Teddy Bears taking down an Empire. Darth Vader hating sand. Star Wars has always had more than its fair share of contentious issues. But the most controversial one now belongs to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
First and foremost is its depiction of Luke Skywalker, the saga’s naive farm boy turned intergalactic hero, and Mark Hamill himself heads up that queue. The actor, who reprised his role in The Force Awakens after a 30 year hiatus discussed just how tough Skywalker’s evolution was for him, from “the most idealistic character…the most optimistic character” to the jaded recluse who’d lost his faith in the way of the Jedi.
At the 44th Annual Saturn Awards, Hamill explained to ET Canada how he disagreed with how the character’s resolve had digressed, saying:
“I said, you know, even if I did something ghastly like picking the wrong young student, that I would redouble my efforts. I wouldn’t just go off to an island for 30 years.”
This was the main bone of contention for many a Star Wars fan when watching Luke’s return in The Last Jedi, and further in the interview, the actor made an interesting analogy as to how he got his head around this new take on the son of Vader.
“I mean, it was tough on me, because I was sort of old school George Lucas, and you have to make way for the new generation. So I had to figure out, ‘how can I best make this work?’ And there’s lots of backstory I made up for myself, that wouldn’t concern the audience in any way, and that’s when I made the analogy of being the Beatles generation, where ‘all you need is love,’ and in effect, we failed. Because I think the world is much worse now than it was then.”
There’s certainly a contextual poignancy that makes Hamill’s analogy hit home. These are dark times and Star Wars is usually framed as an escape from that. Seeing Luke defeated understandably broke fans’ spirits, but what should be taken from The Last Jedi is that his struggle to reach redemption results in bringing hope to the galaxy as he did before. Surely that’s more in keeping with the boy who first preferred trips to the Tosche Station to the Force, right?