‘The Mandalorian’: Why Was Luke Skywalker Still Dressed In All Black?

The Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian so delighted viewers that it may well have been the most highly praised episode of television in all of 2020. (Spoilers ahead).  It has certainly been the most talked about, and that boils down to one name: Luke Skywalker. 

The reappearance of the hero of many a childhood revived  many fans’ faith in the franchise, although some questions still lingered. One of those was, why was Luke still wearing his Return of the Jedi garb five years after the fall of the Empire?

Luke Skywalker: The man in black

Mark Hamill
Mark Hamill | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for HISTORY

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For as long as Hollywood has been around, black has represented the color of the villain. “Black hat” has sometimes been used as shorthand for a villain character. If someone is dressed in black in a heroes and villains kind of story, at the very least, they’re feeling conflicted. At worst, they’re up to no good at all. 

So even though Luke Skywalker acted like a hero throughout most of Return of the Jedi, for most if not all of that movie, he was dressed all in black, not unlike his father Darth Vader. Most fans took this costume to mean that Luke was in danger of falling to the dark side of the Force, just as Obi-Wan and Yoda had warned. Of course, all turned out well in the end.

That being the case, why is Luke still wearing this in his Mandalorian appearance, when he is most definitely playing the hero? Further clouding the matter was the fact that Luke’s battle with the robotic Dark Troopers reminded fans of Vader’s hallway battle in Rogue One. Fans have questions, and they have answers too. 

What do fans say about Luke’s costume?

On a Reddit forum, a fan said, “I loved the finale! I thought it was great! But something did bother me… It’s been discussed that in ROTJ Luke wears all black to symbolize his potential to fall to the dark side. By the end of the film, after resisting the Emperor, his black suite opens at the lapel revealing the white color underneath symbolizing his resistance to the dark side and return.”

Another fan said the explanation was simple: continuity. “He wore all black with a black glove so that anyone who has seen RotJ could instantly recognize him on-screen, before the face reveal. Also I’m sure it was an intentional wardrobe choice to visually connect to Vader’s hallway rampage in Rogue One.

But another fan said the question was reading too much into a simple choice. Ahsoka, whom we also saw in season 2 of The Mandalorian, also wears black or dark clothing, and her heroics were not in question. Then again, she’s also not a beloved Original Trilogy character with a complex moral journey that has prompted endless debate.

Even this brief appearance by Luke sparked discussion about whether The Mandalorian should have featured Luke at all. 

Was Luke’s appearance pandering to nostalgia?

Even before season 2 started, fans picked up on hints that Luke would at least make some sort of cameo, but his appearance exceeded many people’s expectations. All the same, not everyone was cheering. Some people thought this represented Star Wars looking in the wrong direction: backward.

Entertainment analyst Scott Mendelson wrote in Forbes that “The Rescue” made the franchise succumb to nostalgia, something that has hampered other Star Wars stories.

He wrote:

“The Luke sequence, intentional or not, acts as a request answered to many of the worst and most toxic would-be Star Wars fans, the ones who chased Kelly Marie Tran and Daisy Ridley off social media and swore that The Last Jedi ‘ruined Star Wars’ precisely because it didn’t feature Luke Skywalker hacking and slashing his way through First Order troops like a Jedi Academy or Super Star Wars video game character.”

So is giving fans what they want a bad thing? To some people, it at least sets up a slippery slope, and that slope could wind its way through the myriad Star Wars series that have been announced.

Some people want to see Star Wars tell new stories, not be forever beholden to the old ones. The color black just might foretell a cloudy future after all.