Luke Island Blues

Rian Johnson has been either praised or blame, according to taste, for subverting, in The Last Jedi, the expectations raised by J. J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens.

In some respects the description is accurate – for example, in regard to Rey’s parentage, with Johnson subverting Abrams, and Abrams subsequently counter-subverting Johnson (like the humorous alternating-teacups-and-battlefleets round-robin mutual-hostility story that used to hang on the wall in the Chapel Hill Philosophy Department, and which I wish I could find online).

But one aspect that has been viewed as a subversion that I think is no such thing is Johnson’s treatment of Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t Johnson’s decision to have Luke hiding on a distant planet while the First Order was rising, his sister was fighting a desperate battle against it, and his nephew and former pupil was stalking around as a Vader wannabe. That was what Abrams established in TFA. If Rey had shown up and told Luke his sister and the galaxy needed him, and he had immediately replied, “oh, then I guess I’ll end my hermit-like existence and go fight the baddies,” it would have rendered inexplicable his not doing so long before Rey’s arrival.

The opening of TLJ¸ with Luke tossing the lightsabre over his shoulder and walking away, wasn’t a subversion of the final scene of TFA; it was pretty much the only continuation that made sense. If you wanted a more active role for Luke, blame Abrams, not Johnson.

2 Responses to Luke Island Blues

  1. Brandon May 11, 2020 at 11:13 am #

    There is a rumour, talked about on the Overlord DVD and Midnight’s Edge YT channels and also some Reddit threads, that part of the Disney/Lucas deal was an agreement that Lucas would receive a merchandising royalty from certain core original trilogy characters. The number that has been talked about is 25%. If true, this would incentivize Disney both to create its own characters, and minimize — to the point of killing them off — the OT characters.

    Unfortunately for Disney, it appears the merch related to its trilogy is not moving, and in many places is marked down.

    I thought the damage done by Johnson’s movie was much more severe in that it sent a clear message, since affirmed by Johnson’s public statements, that the canonical rules don’t matter. All of a sudden, the Jedi are capable of doing anything they want, don’t need training etc. It was a liberating experience to watch it however, because it meant that it was finally time to leave SW behind and move on. If those in charge of the canon don’t care, I guess I don’t need to either. The same thing has happened to Star Blech. No rules, nobody cares, anything goes. Apparently these ageing franchises that have generated billions eventually reach a late stage of decadence in which they have shit all to say, that anybody would want to hear.

    • Roderick May 11, 2020 at 4:49 pm #

      The final episodes of the Clone Wars were pretty awesome.

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