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ST "Betrayal" of the Luke Skywalker character... when and how?

Discussion in 'Sequel Trilogy' started by OPwookiejedi, Jun 11, 2020.

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  1. OPwookiejedi

    OPwookiejedi Jedi Youngling

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    Jun 11, 2020
    I've thought this over quite a bit, and want to get the input of fellow fans...

    Online I've seen a lot of heated criticism of TLJ for its "betrayal" of Luke's character. I understand the anger and frustration, but part of me wonders whether it is entirely justified, or maybe misplaced.

    TFA introduced the idea that Luke Skywalker had disappeared to some secret location during a time of galactic turmoil. The reason for this disappearance was not spelled out in that movie, but given the events of that film (the first order rising in power and terrorizing the galaxy) I imagined that there would have to be an immensely compelling/dramatic reason for Luke to have hidden himself away at all.

    Say what you will about TLJ's treatment of Luke's character, at least they understood that only an extremely traumatic event or similarly compelling reason would have driven Luke into seclusion. The reason they gave was certainly dramatic, but it seems that for many fans it was TOO dramatic and amounted to a betrayal of Luke's character. My biggest question in all of this is twofold - (1) what alternative event would have justified Luke's seclusion and (2) if there is no alternative that justifies his seclusion, maybe the betrayal that fans are so upset about actually occurred in TFA?

    Can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts!
     
  2. Alliyah Skywalker

    Alliyah Skywalker Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 18, 2017
    I actually didn`t think it was dramatic enough in that what I saw as the reason given did not justify his response to me. Not running away and hiding like a coward while whining and blaming the previous Jedi and whatnot. At the very least I could neither respect nor sympathize with him in the slightest over it. Nor did I at the end of TLJ after Crait, that fixed nothing for me. And the less said about the TROS cameo, the better.

    As for what I did expect or would have liked better or felt would have justified his staying away in seclusion? That`s rather easy. Guarding something big and important at the first Jedi temple that cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of Snoke/darksiders. Maybe something that slowly actually drove him crazy so they could have had version of the character that looked like a big disappointment but there was more beneath the surface vs him actually being the disappointment that he looked like.

    Then he could have still done the force projection on Crait but this time, dividing his efforts between that guarding/shielding thing and that so him dying from the double-strain would have held more gravitas and made it look like impressive force use. At least to me.

    In hindsight, I think TFA is deflated because Luke was the McGuffin in that and when you saw him in TLJ, it makes it pretty silly that both sides tried to find him in the first movie. Noone needed to have bothered.
     
  3. Jedi_Fenrir767

    Jedi_Fenrir767 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 16, 2013
    They completely missed the ball with Luke's character in TLJ. Mark Hamill said it the best a Jedi wouldn't give up he would leave retreat but he would come back. Having him be a broken man was just ridiculous with none of the development on screen. They could have told this Luke story however to do that this would have to be once again a trilogy that he is a big part of but they didn't want to so we got the crap that we did. The story isn't earned at all and goes counter to what we have learned about the character in 3 previous films.

    Luke could have been in seclusion to hide and protect the Jedi Temple, learning more about the origins of the force and the whills (GL's idea). Taken some surviving students and training a new apprentice in secret. After having tried to bring Kylo back to the light and losing to Snoke training to come back stronger than ever. I could make quite a list what we got in TLJ was the least appealing outcome for me provided the complete lack of setup and storytelling they put into Luke's character in the ST
     
  4. OPwookiejedi

    OPwookiejedi Jedi Youngling

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    Jun 11, 2020
    Great thoughts! I had never considered the possibility of Luke needing to protect something. That certainly would have introduced some interesting concepts and would have preserved Luke's heroism. Thanks!
     
    ChildOfWinds likes this.
  5. LedReader

    LedReader Jedi Master star 4

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    Oct 24, 2019
    I liked but didn’t love TFA when it first came out. I find it basically unwatchable now since TLJ came out because everything it treats as important turns out not to be. The whole movie feels like a waste of time to me now.
     
  6. Sauron_18

    Sauron_18 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 1, 2005
    I’m actually quite happy with how it played out. It was dramatic and psychologically truthful. And it’s no surprise for big reveals to be subverted at this point.

    But reading this thread I’m intrigued by some of the ideas of what could’ve been done with TFA’s setup. I like the idea that Luke did try to fight Snoke after Ben’s fall, and perhaps mostly succeeded and was the cause for Snoke’s deformities. But then he was either defeated or went too close to the dark side and retreated to gather strength and knowledge so that he might be able to save his nephew and the galaxy without making things worse.

    But like I said, I think they TLJ did well by going an unusual route that can be difficult to watch but rings a bit truer in many ways. The way it ties to the bigger themes of the story is great.
     
    Fredrik Vallestrand and HevyDevy like this.
  7. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 9

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    May 18, 2017
    Characters change and have obstacles and setbacks and Campbell's hero journey etc. I've heard it all. Still no excuse for what they did to Luke. He could have raised the x wing, came back in person and not died. What they did was not enough to fully redeem the character imo. Wasn't the whole point of the OT how Luke was different than Anakin?
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  8. Alliyah Skywalker

    Alliyah Skywalker Force Ghost star 5

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    Dec 18, 2017
    Well, he was. At least when Anakin fell from hero-dom, he - depending on the viewpoint - either was still or did turn into an enjoyable, engaging character to watch. I can not say the same about Luke.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
    PendragonM and christophero30 like this.
  9. HevyDevy

    HevyDevy Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Yup. To Anakin's credit, his circumstances were worse than Luke's, but at the end of the day Luke was still just the better man.
    This is muddied now Imo.

    Mostly just due to the whole "Luke Skywalker gave up and hates the Jedi" part.

    What was RJ smokin.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  10. HevyDevy

    HevyDevy Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2011
    That would have made so much more sense.


    Well said. It mostly didn't work for me but I understand your viewpoint.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  11. Trev Elyt

    Trev Elyt Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Mar 22, 2019
    As someone who idolized Luke Skywalker as a kid, I didn’t feel like The Last Jedi betrayed his character. There’s an interview with Carrie Fisher from either before or after The Force Awakens was released where she talks about how the beauty of the Star Wars films is that the characters are human rather than superheroes, which makes it easier for us to align ourselves with them. While I understand why people might’ve been disappointed with how Luke’s character was handled in the Sequel Trilogy, I personally felt like it only added to the humanity of the character. He felt like Ben’s turn to the dark side was his fault, and therefore couldn’t face Han and Leia knowing that he was responsible for the loss of their son. He pretty much spells it out for us in The Last Jedi — he’s come to understand the Jedi Order as a flawed system that might create more harm than good. Luke is human, and his ability to make mistakes and learn from them is what made him a great character. Look at someone like Yoda — he’s a beloved character, but it’s much harder to relate to him because he’s practically a god.

    I think giving Luke a lesson to be learned like this also allowed him to sort of be a more active protagonist in The Last Jedi than if he was simply filling the Yoda role, like what many people expected him to do in the time between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi being released. It put him more at the forefront of the narrative, which I appreciated. Besides, it’s not like he’s the only Jedi to ever cut himself off from the Force. We see Cere Junda do the same thing in Jedi: Fallen Order because in her mind, she was doing the right thing. Surely some of us would’ve done the same thing in that position — even if it’s not the best decision, you think you’re doing what’s best for the people you love by removing yourself from the situation.

    If we really want to blame anyone for this characterization of Luke, I think it would actually fall more on J.J. Abrams than Rian Johnson. He isolated Luke from the rest of the characters in The Force Awakens, and Rian had to come up with a reason as to why Luke would be away from everyone else while the galaxy was in chaos. Isolating himself as a way of protecting his friends is honestly very true to his character. Besides, the notion that he’d be the same starry-eyed protagonist from the Original Trilogy just isn’t plausible — a lot can change in 30 years. I’m not disputing the fact that Luke’s reasoning didn’t entirely make sense. He knew Kylo and Snoke were out there, and the only other Jedi capable of defeating them was Leia, who refused to finish her training and therefore wouldn’t have been as capable of stopping them as Luke and Leia would’ve been together. But regardless, him taking responsibility for what happened, isolating himself as a form of self-punishment and protection for his friends was believable, as far as I’m concerned.

    However, all that being said, I think this backs up my biggest critique of this trilogy, which is that there wasn’t a plan from the beginning and, as a result, parts of it feel extremely disjointed. I love the Sequel Trilogy, but it’s flawed — just like any of the other films are — and I love it in spite of that. But I do think Lucasfilm really dropped the ball by not having everything set up from the very beginning. I’m not saying it would resolve everything, but I do think some of the choices that Rian made in The Last Jedi would’ve been easier to swallow if he wasn’t trying to figure out how to continue the story J.J. set up with so many mystery boxes and inexplicable plot holes. Many of this trilogy’s issues — not all, but many — can be attributed to the lack of cohesion across the three films, and I think having a clearer idea of where they wanted to go narratively rather than broader story ideas would’ve really been to everyone’s benefit.

    That’s actually a really interesting idea, and I really like that idea! The only thing I will say, though, is that for Luke to be isolating himself to protect something important like the first Jedi temple, it would also require some sort of explanation as to why no one else knew where he was. Again, I think this is largely due to the lack of a plan with this trilogy, but if Leia being a Jedi was always planned (which, based on what Carrie Fisher’s brother Todd has said, it sounds like it was), then why wouldn’t Luke have let her in on the plan? Have Leia take on an apprentice in secret while Luke protected the first Jedi temple. One of the trilogy’s fatal mistakes is for waiting as long as it did to reveal Leia’s past as a Jedi. It consequently put all of the pressure on Luke to be the Jedi master of the trilogy, and then when he died and that title fell onto Leia for the third film — without Carrie there to film any new material for it — it just felt strange that Leia would refuse to embrace her Force abilities until Luke had died and the Resistance was all but defeated. Just as much as there needed to be more justification for why Luke acted the way he did in this trilogy, I think there needed to be a better explanation earlier on as to why Leia didn’t use her Force abilities more, especially because there was never any guarantee that Luke would come back.
     
  12. Darth PJ

    Darth PJ Force Ghost star 5

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    Jul 31, 2013
    'Betrayed' is way too strong a word, but they (IMHO) completely misunderstood the character of Luke Skywalker, and had little to no interest of how his portrayal would tarnish the legacy of the character. Worse still, IMHO, is that it was just a huge missed opportunity to explore/develop a character that would have actually made the ST much more relevant within 'Star Wars' canon, and put it in a better place to move forward... rather than the prosaic and rather redundant/superfluous ST that we have now.

    Regardless of Luke's ultimate fate, he should have been the most prominent of the OT 3 in the sequels... the narrative of the OT demanded it. As it stands, his character is by far the most redundant... and that is such a huge waste for, what was, a great character and a really good actor that had a lot more to give to the part. It's also worth noting that (IMHO) regardless of the merits of the filmmakers, their interest in SW isn't as profound as they'd have you believe. The ST is much more about their egos, as filmmakers in the moment, than it is about paying service to the characters, Lucas' legacy and Star Wars as a piece of cinema/popular culture.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  13. christophero30

    christophero30 Chosen One star 9

    Registered:
    May 18, 2017
    To cut himself off from the Force is one thing, but to abandon the fight his sister was in was very unlike the Luke of the OT.
     
  14. jaimestarr

    jaimestarr Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 13, 2004
    @OPwookiejedi

    1st of all, welcome to the boards. Excellent post.

    I must say that, for the most part, I am in complete agreement with @Trev Elyt . This viewpoint is very much how I view Luke Skywalker in my life, and the TLJ.

    The OT showcased Luke Skywalker in, arguably, the greatest example of the heroic journey of all time. This galvanized Luke Skywalker in the collective consciousness into a paragon of good/virtue. He's legend his own galaxy and in ours. Yet as @Trev Elyt (and Carrie Fischer) pointed out: He's not Superman. Luke Skywalker didn't become a demigod when he became a Jedi. TLJ is a response to this exact notion. It is challenging the audience to engage with Luke Skywalker as a man with flaws, like he was in the OT, rather than a paragon of Jedi perfection.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  15. ChildOfWinds

    ChildOfWinds Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 7, 2001
    @jaimestarr , Luke Skywalker was never a “ demi-god”. What did he do in the OT that was all that amazing, really? Luke didn’t need to be “ humanized” either. He was already a very human character with flaws in the OT.

    I do think that Luke was betrayed by the filmmakers. The guy who was the main hero of the OT, and who made so much growth and learned from his mistakes was completely degraded, diminished, and humiliated in the ST. He was even made into one of the causes of kylo’s fall and the loss of his jedi school, instead of being the victim of Kylo, that we were led to believe he was in TFA. Luke accomplished nothing in the ST, and lost his personality, integrity, and core traits. Luke skywalker would never sit on his behind on an island when darksiders like Kylo and snoke were on the loose, especially when Luke was the catalyst that started Kylo on that path. He would have confronted Kylo and either tried to turn him back, or, if that wasn’t possible, would have defended the galaxy from him and snoke.

    the very title of Return of the Jedi, plus yoda’s command to “ pass on what you have learned,” strongly suggested that Luke would restore the Jedi order, but the filmmakers betrayed Luke here too. They killed off his jedi before the ST even started, and then didn’t let him train Rey or anyone else. He never successfully trained anyone. The filmmakers took Luke’s legacy away from him, and the expectation is that it will be Rey’s legacy instead. Then, they killed Luke off in one of the stupidest ways anyone could imagine, without allowing him to accomplish anything. Luke basically died from using the a Force. Is that even possible?

    They also betrayed Luke by turning him from a hero in the OT into a do-nothing jerk, who is partly the villain In the ST, because he was partially responsible for kylo’s fall, and VERY responsible for not trying to stop him, which resulted in countless deaths.

    If they absolutely HAD to have Luke on that island ( and they really DIDN’T need to do that) , then he should have been on the planet that had the first Jedi temple because he was actually looking for something there at the temple that would help to stop Kylo and snoke and other darksiders; looking for answers to how to keep students from falling or how to deal with those who had fallen. I also was hoping that Luke was there training a few new students at the first Jedi temple to take the place of the ones who had been killed, in a place where no one could find them and kill them before they became Jedi knights.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  16. Jedi_Fenrir767

    Jedi_Fenrir767 Jedi Grand Master star 4

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    Oct 16, 2013
    Unless we are watching different movies literally i don’t see how anyone could classify Luke Skywalker as a Demi God needing to be humanized in the OT he was the epidemic of human heck in his greatest battle he did one of the most human things possible and asked his father for help and needed to be saved. Those elements just don’t exist in the OT.

    Kylo and Rey have displayed a so much more power their Like ever did in the OT and are far more in need of such treatment. It’s like the writers were so caught up in the idea of Luke Skywalker they forgot to rewards the fils to get to know the character of Luke Skywalker.
     
  17. Darth PJ

    Darth PJ Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2013
    Absolutely correct. Rey and Kylo Ren are depicted much more like an omnipotent Gods. Luke Skywalker, by comparison, (in the OT) is a very 'human' character... and of course the PT provides further context to show that he was much more atuned to the living force, and was probably how a 'true' Jedi should be i.e. not a detached and aloof superhuman, but a caring and feeling protector of the light.

    There was mileage in exploring what Luke's legacy would be, after redeeming his father and saving the galaxy... but this is never examined in the ST, he's just presented as an abject failure who has forsaken his friends and family. If one is going to deconstruct a character (which I'm not against in principle), show the deconstruction/the journey.... that's where the drama is.
     
  18. TCF-1138

    TCF-1138 Anthology/Fan Films Manager and Ewok Enthusiast star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
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