For all of the criticism leveled at The Force Awakens and its uncanny similarities to A New Hope, the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot floored Star Wars fans with the death of Han Solo, arguably the most popular character to ever grace Lucasfilm’s galaxy far, far away.
It’s an event that clearly still haunts Kylo Ren (AKA Ben Solo), who spends much of Star Wars: The Last Jedi trying to impress Supreme Leader Snoke – much to the bemusement of General Hux. Not only that, but on the other side of the lens, Abrams’ decision to kill off Han Solo, the galaxy’s greatest nerf herder, left Rian Johnson with some food for thought.
Since the film’s release on Friday, The Last Jedi director has been fielding questions left, right and center about Phasma, humor and his all-new Star Wars trilogy. But before we get lost in forward-thinking and the future, Johnson addressed Han Solo’s demise and how it differs from that of Luke Skywalker’s.
Well, I debated it a lot, but it was always in my head that always made sense to me for a lot of different reasons. First of all, this is Luke’s movie. Mark gives a great performance in it. His journey back to taking on the mantle of the legend of Luke Skywalker, basically — something he had rejected as being unhealthy for the universe. And him coming around to realizing that the galaxy needs this — ‘I need to be the legend they need me to be,’ and taking that on his shoulders.
So whereas Han’s death was defined by violence and the ferocious, unpredictable Kylo Ren, the passing of Luke Skywalker is much more peaceful in nature, as it’s only when Mark Hamill’s Force projection one-ups Kylo (“see you around, kid”) that Luke fades away into the ether.
Perhaps he’ll return as a Force ghost in Episode IX? One way or another, Hamill’s hero has lit the spark that will help bring the First Order down for good, as Rian Johnson tells Uproxx:
Well, first of all, I wanted it to be a contrast to Han in VII. In that Han in VII was violent and it was a defeat. Whereas Luke, I wanted it to be peaceful and a victory. I wanted him to win with this. So I thought, from the very start, that’s how I wanted it to feel. And the other element of it is it just rung true for me. It rung true for Han and it rings true with Luke.
Continuing on, he said:
So many of us who grew up with these movies are at a place in our lives where we had people we had in these positions of mentorships are starting to get older and starting to deal with — whether it’s losing them or just our relationship with them changing and it becoming something else, it’s an element of life that I think a lot of people of my age who are Star Wars fans are starting to deal with. It felt emotionally honest to have that in there as well.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hit theaters on December 15th and it’s already the biggest movie in the galaxy.