Sandwiched between The Force Awakens and the so-far untitled Episode IX, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the crucial second chapter in Lucasfilm’s current trilogy. It’s also a movie that belongs to Luke Skywalker.
Similar to how The Force Awakens allowed Han Solo to adopt a mentor role, Rian Johnson’s box office phenomenon placed a particular emphasis on Luke, the wayward Skywalker who turned his back on the Rebel Alliance – and, by effect, the Resistance – soon after his Jedi Acamdey went up in flames. You can thank Kylo Ren for that unmitigated disaster.
But before we wade into spoilers, if you’ve yet to bask in the majesty of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the following comments from Rian Johnson should be avoided at all cost, as they peel back the many layers of Luke Skywalker’s poignant arc. You’ve been warned!
First up, Johnson told Business Insider (via ComicBook.com) that Luke’s death actually opens up more possibilities for Episode IX, not fewer. The latter has been left in the capable hands of J.J. Abrams and Justice League scribe Chris Terrio, and we understand the creative duo recently submitted their initial story pitch to Lucasfilm.
No mention of how Kathleen Kennedy and Co. reacted to their proposed finale, but here, Rian Johnson all but confirms that Luke Skywalker’s Force ghost will manifest at some point in Episode IX.
I’m not sure what J.J. and [screenwriter] Chris Terrio are going to do in the next one with Luke, but setting up possibilities for the next one, honestly, it seems much like Obi-Wan going where he did after ‘New Hope.’ The possibilities seemed even more exciting in terms of what Luke’s place could be in the next chapter with him entering into this other realm as opposed to him having a lightsaber and being with our heroes. It opened more possibilities as opposed to fewer.
On the other side of the lens, it turns out Mark Hamill was none too pleased about the direction in which Luke was headed. But after some lengthy discussions with Rian Johnson, the Star Wars veteran soon realized that The Last Jedi is as much concerned with passing the torch on to another generation as it is with preserving its time-honored heroes.
It wasn’t the thing he wanted to necessarily hear. Understandably so. Mark had all these years to think what Luke’s triumphant return would be. Luke’s the hero coming back into this story, and the fact that this character and this movie could not be that — this character in this movie was by necessity what he had to be, and also in relation to Rey, that brought its own necessity.
It was a bold choice from Johnson and Co., but it’s arguably the right one – even if a vocal minority of The Last Jedi viewers say otherwise.