How Luke Skywalker Learned About Rogue One; Joseph Gordon-Levitt Defends 'The Last Jedi'

When Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) delivered the fatal blow into the thermal exhaust port that would detonate the gargantuan Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope, he was unaware of the lives that had been lost to deliver the plans that led to that assault. We didn't learn ourselves until 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delved into the small, scruffy team that nobly gave their lives in honor of a greater cause. The spin-off film took place immediately before the events of A New Hope, but the sacrifice of Jyn Erso and her team was barely mentioned. Now, a Marvel Star Wars comic book fills in those gaps.

In the Marvel comic issue Star Wars #42 by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larocca and Guru-eFX, it's revealed how Luke learns about the Rogue One mission. The series follows Luke, Han, and Leia on their adventures immediately after the events of A New Hope.

Luke finds himself on the destroyed remains of Jedha, the holy desert moon that was ground zero for the Death Star "experiment." It was here that the Rogue One team came together before stealing the plans to the Death Star from the Empire and seeing them spirited them away to Leia. And it's where Luke meets Ubin Des, who would have been part of the Rogue One team, if she hadn't been sick, according to Bleeding Cool.

"Those who were good enough to disobey orders to do the right thing went and died. Those who didn't go are still here," Ubin Des told Luke. "Jyn Erso led the mission. I wish I could have gone with her..."

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This revelation comes in the midst of Luke's struggle "between his allegiance to the Rebellion and pursuing the path of a Jedi." The Rogue One reveal may be what steels him to continue fighting for the Rebellion, even as he yearns to follow in Obi-Wan and his father's footsteps and become a Jedi Master.

Luke, Then and Now

Luke has come a long way since those days. His character in Star Wars: The Last Jedi may seem like a broken shell of the idealistic man that we saw in A New Hope and even in these Star Wars comics, but it's a radical piece of character development that has earned the ire of many Star Wars fans, and the defense of others. One of those defenders is none other than frequent Rian Johnson collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who even penned an essay raving about Luke's arc in Last Jedi.

"A flawed main character is one of the main distinctions between a story with substance and a gratuitous spectacle," Gordon-Levitt writes in a Medium essay defending Luke's characterization in Last Jedi. "It's often through a character overcoming their flaws that a movie can really say something. Yes, when the movie begins, Luke has grown cynical. He's lost faith in what it means to be a Jedi. He's let fear of the Dark Side of the Force corner him into isolation and inaction. But he needs to start there, so that he can overcome this grave deficit."

Johnson's depiction of Luke may still be polarizing for many Star Wars fans, but it feels fittingly cyclical. Luke is a character forever struggling between the Light and the Dark, duty and personal vendettas — and the Star Wars comic and Gordon-Levitt's essay are gentle reminders of that.