WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Rian Johnston’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters now.
Despite its critical and commercial success, Star Wars: The Last Jedi may well be the most polarizing installment of the franchise to date. While writer/director Rian Johnson continues to depict the struggle between good and evil, represented by the Resistance and the First Order, he veers away from the Star Wars of old by subverting one of the saga’s core components: the Skywalkers.
First, the filmmaker destroys the family’s ambition to rebuild the galaxy through completing Ben Solo’s transformation into a new Darth Vader, and then he changes Luke Skywalker from the savior we last saw in Return of the Jedi into a defeated mentor who ran away after his student answered the call of the Dark Side. Let’s put it this way: When Mark Hamill takes issue with how Luke became an uncaring fallen Jedi, you know these probably aren’t the Skywalkers you’re looking for. Johnson may have wanted to break the mold, but all he did was ruin the Skywalker legacy. Let’s take a look at why that is.
There’s No Evolution
Although Kylo Ren was introduced in 2015’s The Force Awakens, Johnson had an opportunity to steer away from the character’s predictable path. After all, Kylo’s inner conflict and his desire for Rey to rule the galaxy alongside him are merely rehashes of Darth Vader envisioning his son Luke at his right hand. Having Kylo assume the role of Supreme Leader paints him as weak, and in the process spits on the choices made by both Luke and Vader to save the galaxy from Emperor Palpatine.
The older Skywalkers tried to ensure their legacy would never be tyranny, and Johnson undercuts that with Kylo’s path. That glaring lack of evolution is only magnified by Luke’s new arc; he rolls over and leaves the galaxy to be razed by Kylo and Snoke. Hamill himself said Luke would figure out a way to correct his failures, so having him give up, wallow in self-pity and abandon the Resistance is a major step backward.
Kylo, as your typical power-hungry villain, and Luke, as a selfish recluse who’s out of ideas, feel one-dimensional and diminish the greatness of the Skywalkers, transforming them from something special into something disappointingly ordinary. That Yoda also had to return to teach Luke one final lesson merely compounds that.
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