‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’: Rian Johnson’s Divisive Movie Stays True to George Lucas’ Vision for Luke Skywalker

Depending on the Star Wars fan you ask, writer-director Rian Johnson either destroyed the saga or attempted to reinvigorate it. In any case, 2017’s The Last Jedi is one of the most divisive popular films of the past few years. The movie took chances, to be sure, but some fans accuse it of undermining George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars. Now it seems the opposite is true.

Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, and director Rian Johnson
Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, and director Rian Johnson | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Some ‘Star Wars’ fans were unhappy with 2017’s ‘The Last Jedi’

The Disney era of Star Wars movies as a whole has faced criticism from fans. First, The Force Awakens hewed too closely to the original trilogy. Then The Last Jedi diverge too far from what fans expected. Key criticisms in Johnson’s movie included the handling of several mysteries introduced in director J.J. Abrams’ preceding film.

Fans weren’t initially pleased with the answers Johnson offered for Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) parentage and Snoke’s (Andy Serkis) origin. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker eventually retconned both characters’ histories anyway. But perhaps the biggest sticking points fans had with The Last Jedi concern the reintroduction of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

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Rian Johnson’s movie stays true to George Lucas’ version

In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke has been in self-imposed exile since losing his nephew Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) to the Dark Side. Cutting himself off from the Force, he believes the galaxy is better off without him. In the end, he sacrifices his life to Force-project himself into a confrontation with Kylo Ren, inspiring hope in the remaining Resistance.

Fans claimed Johnson destroyed the character of Luke. And notably, even Hamill expressed his reservations over Luke’s story. Now, according to a new book titled Star Wars: Fascinating Facts: Story, Lore & History from The Greatest Galaxy (via Slashfilm), The Last Jedi is remarkably close to what Lucas originally had in mind for the sequel trilogy.

Luke’s death surprised fans, but author Pablo Hidalgo claims Lucas’ Star Wars Episode VIII treatment also included Luke’s death. Moreover, Lucas portrayed Luke as “a recluse, withdrawn into a very dark space and needs to be drawn back from despair.” That sounds pretty close to The Last Jedi too, which fits with Johnson’s thoughtful approach to Star Wars.

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Will Rian Johnson ever return to the ‘Star Wars’ saga?

Among Star Wars fans, Johnson might be a polarizing figure. But his entry still has more passionate fans than either of the other two sequel trilogy movies. Even so, the filmmaker’s future in the saga remains remarkably unclear. For instance, will fans ever see him return to the franchise?

After all, Johnson was reportedly attached to shepherd a new trilogy before The Last Jedi even hit theaters. Given the lackluster response to The Rise of Skywalker, Lucasfilm is taking a break between Star Wars movies. Still, at least fans have The Mandalorian Season 2 to look forward to.