WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary.
When it was revealed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that Leia Organa had become a general and leader of the Resistance, fans immediately wondered why she hadn’t instead followed the path of the Jedi. Although director J.J. Abrams addressed the question in interviews, the matter didn’t seem quite settled. After all, she’s the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, whom Yoda referred to in Return of the Jedi as “another” hope for the galaxy.
Director Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi provides a memorable display of Leia’s Force abilities, even without extensive training, once more raising the question of why she didn’t become a Jedi. The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary, released on Friday to coincide with the premiere of the film, sheds a little more light on the matter.
In a 2015 interview, Abrams explained that becoming a Resistance general instead of a Jedi “was simply a choice she took.” “Not that there was any regret that she could have and didn’t,” he said, “but clearly we’ve seen, and we do again, she’s still Force-strong, and it’s something that is an intrinsic piece of her character.”
But the new Visual Dictionary adds that Luke Skywalker actually intended Leia to be his first student when he set out to found a new Jedi Order. “However, the ultimately decided that the best path for her to serve the galaxy left no room for the extended isolation of Jedi training,” Luke’s entry states. “As Leia concentrated on her new family and senatorial politics, Luke began his travels, largely disappearing from galactic view. During his lengthy journey, Skywalker gathered disciples who would go on to become his first true students.
Of course, we know how that turned out.
But as The Last Jedi demonstrates, Leia’s Force strength extends well beyond the psychic connection with her brother displayed in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi: During a First Order attack, the primary command deck of General Organa’s flagship the Raddus is destroyed, and she’s sucked into the vacuum of space. Although it momentarily appears if her fate is sealed, Leia summons the Force and propels herself back aboard the Raddus, injured but still alive.
That display of power will no doubt fuel one of the great “What if?” debates of the Star Wars franchise. Sure, fans can wonder what kind of Jedi Knight Leia might’ve become, but there’s always the matter of what else a different path would have meant: no Ben Solo, and therefore no Kylo Ren. But then perhaps another of Luke’s students would have succumbed to Snoke’s influence, and the Resistance would’ve been left without a General Organa. Or, heck, maybe there wouldn’t even be a Resistance to oppose Snoke.
Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke, Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Lupita Nyong’o as Maz Kanata, Benicio Del Toro as ‘DJ’, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. The film is in theaters worldwide.
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