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It's been nearly a year since Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out and Rian Johnson is still fielding critical responses to the way the movie handled Luke Skywalker. A recent conversation among both sides of the Last Jed debate on Twitter tagged the director at one point in the conversation, which is likely why he decided to put his own two cents in response to the idea that Johnson's script marked a serious change in the character of Luke Skywalker. Johnson said...
Hot take: Luke is in fact 100% consistent with his character (not the way he's described in marketing blurbs, but his actual, based-on-his-words-and-actions character) from the OT. I'll be at the bar if you need me.
Rian Johnson clearly feels that he didn't do anything particularly radical with Luke Skywalker's character in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While Luke Skywalker may be portrayed in very simple terms as a perfectly noble hero sometimes, Johnson sees Luke as much more nuanced than that, and he wrote the character accordingly.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been a divisive film, to say the least. While many loved the newest entry in the Star Wars saga and view it as one of the best in the franchise, others have quite the opposite opinion. While the detractors have different reasons for the opinion, most of the frustration seems to be focused on the character of Luke Skywalker. Many seemed to think that Luke Skywalker's moment of weakness that led to him nearly killing his own nephew, and his subsequent self-exile, was out of character, but Johnson claims that quite the opposite is true.
The Twitter conversation started following the news that J.J. Abrams has been tasked with some sort of course correction regarding the Star Wars franchise as the director of Episode IX. Of course, the original report that made that claim made no comments about the plot or characters of The Last Jed\_ibeing the reason for this and only mentioned the disappointing box office of _Solo: A Star Wars Story as something that needed to be corrected.
Besides, it's highly unlikely that J.J. Abrams is even a little bit interested in trying to make his new movie some sort of Star Wars damage control. It's been reported that Abrams thought the script of The Last Jedi was so good that it made The Force Awakens director wish he was directing Episode VIII. It was, after all, Abrams who exiled Luke Skywalker to an island for an extended period of time, not Rian Johnson.
Nothing here is really anything we haven't heard before, and Rian Johnson has certainly heard it all too. He's had to defend every decision he made in the film, from the humor to the Canto Bight subplot to the use of Force projection as a Jedi power.
Rian Johnson has explained himself before, and he likely will again. It's clear that at this point, no explanation will do. Those who only want to see Luke Skywalker's nobility as the hero from the original trilogy that they grew up with will accept nothing less now.
At the same time, nobody will convince Rian Johnson that he was wrong. He has already gone on record that the backlash hasn't changed his opinions.
There's nothing I've read or seen that's made me think, 'Oh god, I did kind of mess that up, I would've done that differently if I could go back.' I still genuinely believe in all the decisions I've made.
Of course, fans weren't the only ones who had some serious questions about how Luke Skywalker was handled in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Mark Hamill himself made some very public comments that he didn't like the idea of Luke Skywalker "giving up" either. Fans who agree have often pointed to such comments as proof that Johnson made a mistake, as the actor who played the character before should surely know him best. However, Hamill has ultimately come to Johnson's defense saying that he found playing Luke in The Last Jed to be a "thrilling experience."
And Luke Skywalker was far from the only thing that people took issue with. Many found the reveal that Rey's parents were nobody of consequence to be anti-climactic. Because Star Wars: The Force Awakens used Rey's parentage as one of J.J. Abrams mystery box moments, many fans assumed that meant the reveal would be something much bigger.
The same was true of Supreme Leader Snoke. The character was killed off by Kylo Ren, a moment that pushed Ben Solo into the position of being the true antagonist that needed to be overcome, without revealing details many in the audience were waiting on, even though, one could argue, those details simply aren't important to the story at hand.
What's clear is that Star Wars means a great deal to a lot of people. It's a 40-year-old franchise that many have been fans of for their entire lives. It's important to them, so when they see something that's perceived as wrong, they react strongly. Rian Johnson understands this as well. While he may not second-guess any of decisions, the director has said that he completely understands where the strong feelings are coming from.
But it's because they care about these things, and it hurts when you're expecting something specific and you don't get it from something that you love. It always hurts, so I don't take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That's fine. It's my job to be there for that. Like you said, every fan has a list of stuff they want a Star Wars movie to be and they don't want a Star Wars movie to be. You're going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.
This debate certainly won't be ending anytime soon. Even if J.J. Abrams successfully makes a Star Wars Episode IX that the entire world embraces, which is unlikely, there will still be those who feel The Last Jedi was wrong. Whatever you think of Luke Skywalker's character in Episode VIII it seems that one way or another, Mark Hamill will be back one last time, so maybe he'll somehow be able to make everybody happy.