Mark Hamill The Last Jedi

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Mark Hamill is completely wrong about Luke Skywalker and the Jedi.)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is easily the most divisive movie the iconic sci-fi saga has ever seen. Hardcore Star Wars fans are having endless debates about whether director Rian Johnson‘s new chapter in the franchise throws everything we love about Star Wars to the wind, or if it merely introduces new elements into the galaxy while still respecting what came before it. This is an argument that will be going on for years to come. Now Mark Hamill is throwing some more fuel onto that fire.

We already know that Mark Hamill fundamentally disagreed with Rian Johnson’s ideas for how to continue the story of Luke Skywalker, but he eventually came around to the filmmaker’s way of thinking. But Some recent remarks from the original trilogy star about the trajectory of Luke Skywalker in the movie indicate that he still hasn’t come to terms with his character arc. In order to properly discuss this concept, we have to dig into spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi yet, do not read any further.

Here’s a clip of the Mark Hamill The Last Jedi remarks about Luke Skywalker and the Jedi from Jar Jar Abrams:

For those who can’t watch the video, here’s what Mark Hamill said about where he disagreed with Rian Johnson’s vision for Luke Skywalker:

“I said to Rian, I said, ‘Jedis don’t give up. I mean even if he had a problem he would maybe take a year to try and regroup, but if he made a mistake he would try and right that wrong.’ So right there we had a fundamental difference, but it’s not my story anymore. It’s somebody else’s story, and Rian needed me to be a certain way to make the ending effective. That’s the crux of my problem. Luke would never say that. I’m sorry.”

Hamill goes on to elaborate that he’s talking about Luke Skywalker as he sees him in George Lucas’ version of Star Wars. He refers to this as the “next generation of Star Wars,” creating some kind of differentiation between the two, almost as if they exist in two separate universes. Hamill elaborates:

“This is the next generation of Star Wars, so I almost had to think of Luke as another character. Maybe he is Jake Skywalker. He’s not my Luke Skywalker, but I had to do what Rian wanted me to do because it serves the story well. But listen, I still haven’t accepted it completely. But it’s only a movie. I hope people like it. I hope they don’t get upset, and I came to really believe that Rian was the exact man that they need for this job.”

Well, some people are certainly upset. There are even sects of overbearing fans demanding that The Last Jedi be removed from Star Wars canon (which is just plain stupid). And while Mark Hamill is certainly an authority on the character of Luke Skywalker, it should be made clear that this story was never his. While he brought Luke Skywalker to life, the story always belonged to George Lucas. The way Mark Hamill thinks about Luke Skywalker is his own interpretation of that character, but that doesn’t make it definitive. But besides that, there appear to be some fundamental problems with how Mark Hamill views Luke Skywalker and the Jedi in general.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith - Yoda

Yes, Mark Hamill, Jedi Do Give Up

Mark Hamill seems to be under the impression that the Jedi are endlessly optimistic, the kind of heroes who don’t walk away from a problem, especially when that problem threatens the entire galaxy. But he seems to have forgotten what happened at the end of Revenge of the Sith, when two of the most prominent members of the Jedi order flat-out gave up.

After Darth Sidious executed Order 66, nearly wiping out the entire Jedi via his army of Clone Troopers, both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda go into hiding. Obi-Wan Kenobi takes himself to Tatooine where he keeps a somewhat watchful eye on Luke Skywalker, and Yoda goes into exile. The latter Jedi master even says to Bail Organa, “Into exile I must go. Failed, I have.” Not only does Mark Hamill seem to forget about these details, but he doesn’t seem to get that giving up is what makes his character’s return that much more powerful.

Even though Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda both go into their own personal exiles, they still end up being called back into action. Obi-Wan Kenobi dealt with a serious threat on Tatooine in the form of Darth Maul during this time (as seen in Star Wars Rebels), and then he ended up back in the larger battle between the Empire and the Rebellion when Princess Leia Organa desperately called for his help. So while Obi-Wan had given up for a time, he still answered to the call when he was needed most.

Meanwhile, though Yoda maintained his exile on Dagobah and never physically returned to the larger battle at hand, he kept a close watch on the surviving Jedi, and even helped young Ezra Bridger in Star Wars Rebels find his way on his path to becoming a Jedi. Though the Jedi master had given up his place as a warrior and force to be reckoned with in the battle, he still helped during times of great need.

Mark Hamill The Last Jedi

Heroes Aren’t Perfect

It’s those moments that are most important to these characters, and it’s the crux of what makes Luke Skywalker’s character arc in this new trilogy not only fascinating, but vital to the survival of the Resistance. Luke Skywalker intended to die in exile on Ahch-To, never to return to the battle. He initially resisted Rey’s plea to return and help the Resistance take on the First Order, taking a step back in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey by rejecting the call to action again.

But then Luke realizes that his failure is not only what ends up making him stronger, but it will also help Rey on her journey to ensuring that Luke is not really the last Jedi. It makes his ultimate return that much more meaningful. Luke is willing to come back after making one of the biggest mistakes of his life and right the wrongs he’s responsible for by lighting the spark that will burn the First Order to the ground. Luke loses his optimism and his motivation for a short time, as all great heroes should, but then he realizes what he must do.

What’s great about Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi is that it shows our heroes aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. But it’s from those mistakes that their progeny learns. So if there’s anything we can take way from Mark Hamill’s thoughts, it’s that he’s not perfect either. Especially because Mark Hamill once pitched the idea to Lucasfilm of playing an evil twin of Luke Skywalker. It’s become clear that Luke Skywalker and Star Wars have grown beyond what Mark Hamill and many fans think they should be. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. As Yoda says when he appears to Luke on Ahch-To, “We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”

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