It is no secret that I think The Last Jedi handled Luke Skywalker’s character and storyline brilliantly (read this or this or this), but the film’s comic adaptation adds a new detail to Luke’s story that is so beautiful that I wish it had been included in the movie.
In the movie, Luke learns of the death of Han Solo, his best friend, from Rey and Chewbacca. They storm into Luke’s hut and demand that he return with them on the Millennium Falcon. Luke stops and looks at Chewie, saying, “Falcon? Wait… where’s Han?” As he does so, Mark Hamill’s performance convincingly conveys the feeling of dread and sadness washing over Luke as he braces for the answer he seems to know is coming: Han Solo is dead. But the movie then cuts to Kylo Ren’s conversation with Supreme Leader Snoke, leaving Luke’s reaction to the news out of the final cut.
In the comic, however, we see Luke’s reaction: and it’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Upon finding out about Han’s death, we see Luke begin to use the Force in mourning the loss of Han, feeling guilt over it – that is, until Chewbacca gives his old friend a hug, calming Luke down and experiencing a heartwarming moment together.
Rian Johnson actually shot a scene of Luke Skywalker mourning Han’s death that is tremendous (and a great job by Mark Hamill) that I really wish would have been included in the film’s final cut. In the deleted scene, Luke sits alone in his hut with tears as he sits in solitude and reflection. That’s a great scene, but I like the way the comic portrays it even better. Luke realizes that, had he not been trying to cut himself off from the Force, he would have felt it all – and, presumably, would have been able to feel the turmoil early enough to have done something to help. But instead, because of his desire to be in exile, Han Solo was dead. Luke began to use the Force (in anger or sadness) until Chewie gives him a hug.
I assume that the reason this wasn’t fleshed out more in the movie is because of the development of Luke cutting himself off from the Force. That reveal comes later on, during Rey’s first lesson, so at this point in the movie the audience doesn’t know it yet. I’d guess that Rian Johnson wanted to save that reveal for later and not get into it so much early on in the movie, which makes sense from a filmmaking perspective.
The comic has the luxury of explaining that more in-depth, however, such as how it did so earlier in the issues: by showing that, despite Luke’s best efforts, he’s not totally cut off from the Force.
Big picture-wise, Rian Johnson made the right decision about Luke cutting himself off from the Force, because otherwise – had Luke sensed everything happening and still stayed in solitude – then it would have painted the Jedi Master in an even worse light. His friend, Han Solo, was killed, Luke sensed it, and he still did nothing? So it was the right decision for Luke to be cut off from the Force, and it makes it all the more tragic when he finds out about Han. Now, all the sudden, we realize something entirely different about Luke: he didn’t stop caring about his friends but genuinely thought he was doing the best thing for himself, his friends, and the galaxy for him to go into exile and cut himself off from the Force. But now, there is more guilt added onto that when he realizes that Han is dead.
It adds another layer to the tragic backstory of Luke Skywalker, and the way it transpires in the comics is beautiful.