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Caution: spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi fundamentally changed a lot of beloved aspects of the Star Wars franchise. Chief among these changes was the heroic demise of Luke Skywalker, which took the franchise's longtime focal point off of the table for future use as a living hero. It arguably was a bold move on Johnson's part, and Mark Hamill recently revealed that even he was somewhat hesitant to put the death in the middle installment of the new trilogy, and instead wanted the last stand to play out in Star Wars: Episode IX. During a panel appearance at SXSW alongside his director, Hamill explained:
My first reaction was, 'Can't we push this off until [Episode] 9? Luke eventually does the right thing selflessly for the good of the Rebel Alliance, and [I realized] I should do the selfless thing for the betterment of the movie. Seriously. I'm not trying to be self-aggrandizing, I'm just saying, in the greater scope of things, number one, I never expected to come back, so this is all like found money.
Mark Hamill has an evident love for Luke Skywalker, and these remarks lend the sense that he initially wasn't quite ready to let go of the franchise. Though he eventually went on to meet his ultimate demise by sacrificing himself in a battle against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) on the surface of Crait, Hamill originally wanted to try and push Luke's death to the last installment in the current trilogy. In the end, however, in the same way that Luke made a "selfless" choice to help the Resistance, Hamill also made the decision that felt like it was in the best interest of the movie.
Of course, this isn't necessarily surprising. Mark Hamill has made no secret of the fact that he was initially appalled by the arc of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. In fact, his comments at SXSW (via Indiewire) about why he was hesitant to go through with the death -- and why he ultimately felt willing to go along with the story that Rian Johnson laid out in front of him -- seem to line up with much of what he has said about the process of making Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Part of the rationale behind Luke Skywalker's death in Episode VIII likely had to do with the way the new trilogy was initially meant to be structured. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was supposed to be a story focusing on Han Solo (Harrison Ford), with The Last Jedi giving us Luke's arc and Episode IX rounding things out by telling a story focusing on General Leia. However, the passing of Carrie Fisher fundamentally changed how Lucasfilm needed to approach the plan, which means the folks behind Episode IX have to figure out how to proceed now that Luke is also gone. With that in mind, the death of Carrie Fisher and inherent lack of Leia could potentially mean that a Force Ghost Luke Skywalker could return in the next film to fill her void, but we will have to wait and see what happens.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently available on Digital HD, and the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the movie will debut later this month on March 27. The Star Wars saga will continue with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25, and Episode IX will debut in theaters the following year on December 20, 2019.