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You've seen the movies. You've read the books. But you've always wondered. Who is Luke Skywalker? Why are all these nerds arguing about him and what does he represent? Well fret not for it is time for a lesson. I am here to explain to you in the most basic (pardon the pun) terms who Luke Skywalker is and what he represents to the Star Wars community. Part 1 will be a recounting of the tale of Mr. Skywalker from the new Disney canon and part 2 will be a recounting of the Skywalker legend from the old, non cannon expanded universe (or EU as we colloquially put it). These are two very distinct and different people so bear with me on this. This article will overlook only the Legends of Luke Skywalker book as it has still not been clarified what's myth and fact in that book. So let us begin with the origins of the humble man who would become a legend of great power...
Luke Skywalker was born in 19 BBY on the asteroid of Polis Massa after the events of Revenge of the Sith. He is the son of Anakin Skywalker, the protagonist of the prequel trilogy. We must understand that Luke lost his mother in childbirth. He has a twin sister named Leia who was taken by Bail Organa to Alderaan (which was the planet destroyed in A New Hope). As you know, Anakin fell to the dark side of the force and became the right-hand man of the Emperor, Darth Vader. The children needed to be hidden in order to protect them, as the spawn of Skywalker was bound to be powerful in the force. Also, as both Kenobi and Yoda had failed to defeat their respective Sith lords adequately, this destiny was to become that of the children. He is taken in by his step-uncle and aunt, Owen and Beru Lars. Obi-Wan Kenobi, last of the Jedi masters, explains the situation to them and also takes the role of watching over the young Luke till he becomes of age to fulfill his destiny.
Life on a desert planet was interesting to say the least. Luke has many adventures with Jabba the Hutt, Obi Wan and his T-16 skyhopper in Beggar's Canyon, as referenced in A New Hope. This was clearly an idyllic time for him as most of the villains were dealt with by Obi-Wan as part of fulfilling his duties towards his young charge. Maul also makes a surprising return if you follow the Clone Wars tv show during this time.
A New Hope
In O BBY Luke finally goes on his first great adventure. With the purchase of R2-D2 and C-3PO, Luke finally goes on a quest to find the legendary Ben Kenobi of the Clone Wars. They must take action against the evil Galactic Empire and with the help of Han Solo, a smuggler found in the Mos Eisley Cantina, and Chewbacca they save the beautiful Princess Leia. She being the leader of the rebellion has the plans to defeat the planet destroyer known as the Death Star. Luke learns that his father is not what he was told to be(a moisture farmer) and he is introduced to the idea of the Jedi Order and his hereditary lightsaber. His great pilot skills combined with the Force allow him to destroy the Death Star alone. He returns triumphant, a hero. We do lose Kenobi, Aunt Beru and Uncle Lars in this, as part of the process of becoming the legend Luke is destined to be is to lose mentors, hope and even family.
Missions for the Rebellion
In between the events of A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back, there is a lot that happens. Luke opens a new weapons supply line, falls in love with a pilot (who later dies unfortunately), learns force powers such as telekinesis, becomes a closer part of Rogue Squadron, even finds old Jedi Temples at Edit and Vrogas Vas. All this is fine and dandy but the real interesting part revealed to us is that Luke does face his father before Empire Strikes Back and is defeated easily by the dark lord. However, seeing the lightsaber of his own in this boy's hand, Vader stays the killing blow. Now armed with the knowledge that this is indeed, his son, he begins the manhunt for him. In the same comic book storyline, Luke also faces Bobba Fett on Tatooine and survives, something that we would have liked to see on film no doubt. Another interesting thing Luke participates in is a massive arena gladiatorial combat. Pride is his enemy here though, and if not for the timely arrival of his friends, would have led to his fall. All of this also shows the humanity of Skywalker, that unlike others he had to face enemies far stronger and far superior than he was. Also, Luke is constantly pursued by Imperial forces and Darth Vader all this time, each hoping to get to him. While it would be too boring to go into every single plot point in the canon EU, suffice to say Luke spends a lot of time looking for others like him and artefacts that can link him to his legacy. The hand of Obi Wan is always a guiding one and Han, Chewie and the rest are always there to help whenever he needs it. Luke has fun as he battles Hutts, stormtroopers and rogue force users during this time.
Empire Strikes Back
Empire is where Luke finally meets the grand master of the old Jedi order, Master Yoda. He is told of his heritage, the force and other things. Yet headstrong and impulsive, he leaves his training to go off to fight Vader and save his friends from the Empire. Luke fights the dark lord and loses a hand and the lightsaber. Yet the real story is the earth shattering truth of his heritage, that Vader did not murder his father but was his father. This also is the first brush of Luke with the dark side, as Vader invites him to destroy the emperor and rule the galaxy together. Eventually, his friends rescue him but Han gets frozen in carbonite and taken by Jabba the Hutt...
Return of the Jedi
Star Wars is a coming of age story and Return of the Jedi reflects exactly that. The young farmboy from Tatooine is no more, he is a venerated Knight now. Luke defeats Jabba the Hutt and his cronies, rescues Han and kills Boba Fett in a striking story of awesomeness. He builds his new lightsaber(deleted scene unfortunately) and faces Vader and the Emperor. The New Death Star has been constructed and it is here that the final confrontation between good and evil takes place. Luke and Vader face off in a flurry of green and red. Once more he is tempted by the dark side and the offer of joining the emperor but at last he overcomes it. In a scene of utter brilliance, Luke throws aside his lightsaber and says, "I am a Jedi like my father before me." Unfortunately the Emperor is too powerful and lightening brings Luke to his knees. But here, in the truly defining moment of truth, Vader kills the emperor to save his son and at last is redeemed. The ghosts of the masters that have passed on look on as the living party. Luke finally is happy and all is well....or is it?
Rebuilding the Order
Done with the empire, Luke now finds artefacts and fragments of the old order with Lor San Tekka(the guy who dies at the beginning of Force Awakens). The aim is simple: to rebuild the order. After a long time working and searching, he builds a new Jedi temple. To this he brings about a dozen apprentices along with his nephew Ben Solo(the son of Han and Leia). With the signing of the Galactic Concordance ending the civil war peace was to reign. But alas it was not so. Snoke, enemy of the New Republic, began to poison the mind of the young Solo. Luke peers in and the horror almost draws him to the unthinkable. The ensuing battle leads to the destruction of the temple and all Luke wanted to accomplish. The dark side has returned and the Jedi are now lost.
Exile to Ach-To, Force Awakens
Disheartened and disillusioned, Luke leaves galactic affairs and became a legend in the galaxy, taking exile in the planet of Ach-to. In 34 ABY, Poe Dameron eventually finds San Tekka and the map to Luke Skywalker. With the help of Finn and Rey(a new force sensitive female with connection to his old lightsaber) they find Luke. Ben Solo is also after him but fails. Rey implores Luke to save the galaxy from Snoke and the First Order(an offspring of the old Empire from the Unknown Regions that is terrorising the galaxy and killing planets).
The Last Jedi, The Death of A Legend
The times have not been good to our former hero. He is a broken shell of his former self, cut off from the force and indifferent to the affairs of the galaxy. He throws away his lightsaber and refuses to fight or even train Rey. He is afraid of her power, afraid of what would happen if he did train her like he did Kylo once. However, as the Resistance is failing and the hope of the galaxy all but destroyed, Luke is finally drawn out. In one last supreme act of unselfishness, Luke uses his power to project an image of himself and fights Kylo in order to allow the Resistance time to escape and regroup. This is done across the stars, draining him of all energy. At last, in one of the most beautiful end scenes ever, while watching the twin suns like he used to on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker becomes one with the force. A legend, a martyr....
So that's it for canon Luke. Will see you all next time as I discuss EU Luke...