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With the Skywalker Saga now finished and opinions being handed out left and right in regards to the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, I think it's time for a take that, frankly, is long overdue. During a recent re-watch of the Original Trilogy I had a blast and still love those movies as much as I ever have. That said, looking back now on all that's come after and what came before, I don't believe Luke Skywalker ever did anything greater than destroying the first Death Star.
That's it, there's the take, but of course I'm not going to just throw that out there and let the hellfire of disgruntled Star Wars fans rain down. I have a lot more to say about Luke Skywalker, his biggest achievement and how nothing he ever did after really came close to it.
For The Record, The First Destruction Of The Death Star Was A Huge Deal
When I say Luke Skywalker peaked with the original Death Star's destruction, I am in no way demeaning what he did. That was a massive turning point in the Galactic Civil War, and there's no way the Rebels could stay in the fight with a fully operational Death Star running through the galaxy and torching planets. Luke was required to hit a pretty impossible shot on the weapon that few others could pull off, and that one shot really flipped the Empire on its head.
Keep in mind, once the Death Star was destroyed, the Empire's only real course of action after that was to rebuild it. Granted, perhaps it was hubris and the success they had against the Rebels in The Empire Strikes Back that made for such a lazy plan. Had Luke not destroyed the Death Star in the first place though, who knows what progress could've been made to completely eradicate all opposition that came after.
So again, this isn't an argument that Luke Skywalker isn't important or overrated, but that he really did his most significant act in Star Wars when he was at his lowest level of experience. This becomes more evident when evaluating his major actions afterwards; which, in retrospect, weren't all that great.
Luke Skywalker Took A Lot Of L's Post-Star Wars: A New Hope
After destroying the Death Star, things weren't great for Luke. He was captured by a wampa, nearly froze to death, kissed his sister on the lips and lost an arm to Vader. Sure, there were bright points and moments of heroics interspersed in there, but even his victories were overshadowed by failure. Luke took down an AT-AT, but the Rebels lost the Hoth base. And while Luke did defeat Vader in Round 2, he nearly died at the hands of Emperor Palpatine soon after.
The reality is that Luke lost a lot more battles than he ever won in Star Wars, which actually makes his battle against Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi perfect. Much like Obi-Wan Kenobi did for him in Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke intentionally takes a loss from Kylo Ren in order to give Rey, Leia and the rest of the Resistance time to escape Crait. I suppose there's an argument to be made that this is Luke's second greatest achievement, but let's focus on one hot take at a time.
I would also say at some point, the case could've been made that Luke successfully forced Darth Vader's change of heart, though expanded material on Vader has shown that, while certainly imperfect, Anakin Skywalker was always looking to take a shot at Emperor Palpatine post-Vader transformation anyway. Luke played a part, of course, but it somewhat lessens his impact than some may have thought back when the Original Trilogy first came out.
What's Your Point?
I think I, like many Star Wars fans, have always gotten caught up in judging Jedi and Sith by how powerful they are. In reality, many of the franchise's greatest characters are defined more by their actions and the impact they had on the Star Wars universe at large. Luke may be one of the more powerful Jedi in the Skywalker Saga, but it's not like that really helped him in the grand scheme of things.
This was just a thought I've had during a quarantined Star Wars marathon, and how the franchise has always been big on introducing strong leads who ultimately accomplish much more without their powers than with them. And yet, with the exception of Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the franchise has been adamant on zeroing in on these larger-than-life skilled characters who may not have needed quite as much power as they were given.
Don't get me wrong, it's cool to see Jedi and Sith use the Force in many cool ways. At the same time, this realization has made me hope that Star Wars is taking this down period in the film franchise to focus more on its stories and in finding more characters capable of shouldering massive adventures, rather than being massively powered individuals breezing on from one situation to the next.
Not every Padawan has to become a Jedi Master, and not every pilot has to be the best in the galaxy. Imperfect heroes make for an entertaining story, which may be why the Original Trilogy still works despite Luke getting his ass kicked throughout a bulk of Episodes IV-VI. It might also be why Rey has faced so much scrutiny in the Sequel Trilogy era, though that's certainly not the only reason sections of the fandom have had beef with her character.
My point is that the Star Wars universe could use more characters that are lesser forms of Luke Skywalker. Give them that one moment of glory, but make the rest an uphill battle that shows real struggle the entire way through. This is where the real magic of the franchise is found, and somewhere I think fans and writers got confused into thinking it's really all about the Jedi.
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