We're less than a month away from the theatrical release of The Last Jedi, and Star Wars fans are abuzz with excitement — and some concern too. It's an open secret that the story of Luke Skywalker is about to take a direction none of us had predicted. Daisy Ridley described one of the film's themes as "Never meet your heroes," while Mark Hamill has actually expressed doubt and disquiet about his beloved character's arc. It's led many fans to speculate that Luke Skywalker, the titular "New Hope" of Episode IV, will actually fall to the dark side.
Speaking to Disney Rewards Insider, Hamill finally laid those rumors to rest. He explained:
"In ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ Luke has lost confidence in his ability to make good choices. It haunts him to the core. But he hasn’t gone to the dark side. This isn’t an evil version of him. But it’s still an incarnation of the character I never expected. It has pulled me out of my comfort zone. It’s a real challenge."
What does this tell us about Luke's arc?
Little by little, we're getting a picture of Luke's character arc between Return of the Jedi and the Sequel Trilogy. In the aftermath of the Empire's defeat, Luke dedicated himself — perhaps unwillingly — towards restoring the Jedi Order. He began a quest to scour the galaxy for the secrets of the Jedi, but the Empire had been ruthlessly efficient in their destruction. So Luke's quest broadened out, and took him to other Force-cults. So far as Luke was concerned, he would pursue truth wherever he found it. As he expressed in Ken Liu's novel The Legends of Luke Skywalker, "There are a thousand names for the truth. It doesn't matter what we call it, only that it is true."
This journey has seemingly exposed Luke to the balance of the Force, a fundamental principle for the Guardians of the Whills. He also learned of the prophecy of the Chosen One, a being who would bring about that balance. While Luke eventually did reform the Jedi Order, he did so while keeping a watchful eye out for the potential Chosen One. Sensing the raw power of Ben Solo, he concluded that Ben was the Chosen One, and focused on training Han and Leia's son.
Unfortunately, it seems that Luke was blind to the dark side's pull on Ben, and to the dangerous influence of Supreme Leader Snoke. When Ben learned that he was the grandson of Darth Vader — just six years before The Force Awakens — it launched the teenager down a dangerous path. Lucasfilm has yet to reveal how Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, but we do know that Luke's would-be Chosen One led the slaughter of the Jedi. Only Luke survived, and the Jedi Master retreated from the galaxy, questioning his own choices.
It's not that Luke has given up on the fight against evil. Rather, he's embraced a different path. In a statement that seems rather prophetic, The Legends of Luke Skywalker features Luke telling one Force-cult:
"There are more ways to serve good than by fighting and confronting evil. You also serve the good by standing guard and maintaining pools of tranquility and peace; you also rebuke evil by showing that there is another way than death and violence. We are all connected through [the Force], and there's a time and place to rest, as well as a time and place to act."
Luke doesn't want to return to the galaxy. Having made so many mistakes, he no longer trusts his own judgment. Then Rey arrives, calling him back to the galaxy, telling him that there is "a time and place to act." Worse still, Luke senses the same raw potential within Rey that he also sensed within Ben Solo. No wonder he questions any decision to train her. What if he unleashed another Kylo Ren on the galaxy?
The Luke Skywalker of The Last Jedi will be very different to the character we know and love in the #StarWars Original Trilogy. That doesn't mean he'll have fallen to the dark side though. Rather, it means he's fallen to doubt.
[Source: Disney Rewards Insider]