Luke Skywalker Deconstructs The Chosen One Prophecy In The Last Jedi

His life after Return of the Jedi sounds very sad
  • Science Fiction
2017-12-15
luke-skywalker
Luke Skywalker is not the callow youth he once was. Lucasfilm

New story reveals from Star Wars: The Last Jedi describe Luke Skywalker’s tragic disillusionment and point to ways Episode VIII will dismantle and deconstruct the Chosen One narrative that’s come to dominate adventure stories.

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly dives into the troubled relationship between Rey and Luke Skywalker. Rather than the gentle young man with a deep reserve of willpower and hidden strength from the original trilogy, The Last Jedi introduces us to a broken, troubled Jedi Master.

“The fact that Luke says, ‘I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end…’ I mean, that’s a pretty amazing statement for someone who was the symbol of hope and optimism in the original films,” Mark Hamill told EW. “What would make someone that alienated from his original convictions?”

The answer comes down to that Chosen One myth. Though it probably should have died after The Matrix went ahead, said “fuck it,” and named their character “The One,” the Chosen One protagonist has become one of our more enduring storytelling tropes. Harry Potter has made Chosen Ones an enduring staple of YA literature, and we’re still debating the identity of “The Prince That Was Promised” after seven seasons of Game of Thrones.

It sounds like The Last Jedi will be, in part, about what happens in the aftermath of a failed Chosen One prophecy. After Anakin Skywalker failed to live up to the Jedi Order’s hopes, Luke Skywalker made the same mistake with Kylo Ren. But Kylo Ren defies “destiny” as well, destroying Luke’s new Jedi temple and killing his padawans. “Luke feels responsible for that,” Hamill says. “That’s the primary obstacle he has to rejoining the world and his place in the Jedi hierarchy, you know? It’s that guilt, that feeling that it’s his fault, that he didn’t detect the darkness in him until it was too late.”

Luke no longer believes in a Chosen One. Will Rey rekindle that hope in him? Or will Star Wars: The Last Jedi reveal the whole Chosen One bunkum to be a red herring? Finding new meaning in The Force is the central journey Rey and Luke will take together, according to director Rian Johnson, who felt it was important to explain why Luke exiled himself on Ahch-To:

“We know that he is not a coward. He’s not just hiding because he’s scared. But we also know that he must know his friends are in danger. He must know the galaxy needs him. And he’s sitting on this island in the middle of nowhere. There had to be an answer. It had to be something where Luke Skywalker believes he’s doing the right thing – and the process of figuring out what that is and unpacking it is the journey for Rey.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens mostly glossed over the sadness it resituated at the center of the Star Wars galaxy. 30 years after deposing the Emperor and defeating his evil Empire, the galaxy didn’t seem to be much better off. From Star Wars to The Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo fought a just war — far more just than any in Earth’s experience — and won everything. Peace was restored to the galaxy and tyranny was overthrown, or so it seemed.

The Force Awakens reveals it was all for nothing. The First Order is nearly as powerful as the Empire and billions of sentient life forms continue to suffer enslavement and penury in backwater, Outer Rim hellholes like Jakku. The derivative story beats — another Death Star, another desert planet, another trench run — were evidence of bad storytelling, sure, but also a dismal recursion. It’s all doomed to happen again. Star Wars will never give way to star peace. Will Star Wars: The Last Jedi be the movie to grapple with this profoundly sad reality? We’ll find out Dec. 15.

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