Stubborn, isolated, cantankerous – the Luke Skywalker of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a far cry from the fresh-faced X-Wing pilot introduced during Lucasfilm’s Original Trilogy.
And that’s no accident, as writer-director Rian Johnson hoped to deconstruct the Skywalker legend while also laying the necessary foundations for the next generation of Star Wars heroes – hence the multiple references and cute nods to a ‘spark’ all throughout Episode VIII.
Luke’s final act proved to be the much-needed catalyst, too, as Mark Hamill’s Jedi was able to distract the First Order for long enough so that the remnants of the Resistance could escape Crait with their lives intact. It’s a selfless sacrifice that is more akin to the Luke Skywalker of old, as Hamill is the first to admit that his on-screen hero had undergone a “radical change” since we last saw him during Return of the Jedi.
There’s just such a huge gap between Return of the Jedi and Force Awakens – I had to really contemplate that. I said ‘hey, how did I go from being the most optimistic, positive character to this cranky, suicidal man who wants people to get off his island?’ It was a radical change, but I think sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Although a part of me said to Rian, ‘but you know, a Jedi would never give up’. My concept of the character was that even if I chose the New Hitler thinking he was the New Hope, yeah I’d feel terrible, but I wouldn’t secret myself on an island and then turn off the Force.
Initially, Mark Hamill had hoped for a more spectacular finale, one in which his character was able to “topple AT-ATs like dominoes.” One could argue that the final scene included in The Last Jedi was every bit as impressive though, as Luke was able to deceive his estranged nephew Kylo Ren from the relative safety of Ahch-To.
J.J. said, ‘Oh and by the way I’ll probably put in a couple of floating boulders to show the Force emanating from you, as strong as it is.’ So I’m thinking for VIII, I’m going to have Force Lightning coming out of every orifice of my body. You know, lifting an eyebrow and toppling AT-ATs like dominoes. That would have been fun to be that powerful! Plus, I wouldn’t have to do much. They wouldn’t have to teach me choreography to do lightsaber duels. I’d just have to do this [Hamill points across the room], and let the special effects guy do everything.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now available on both Blu-ray and DVD and yes, the rumors are true: a pocket of fans have launched a campaign in an attempt to remake Rian Johnson’s sequel, and it’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds.