The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released recently, written as always by Phil Szostak, and as has been the fashion with these very interesting books, it begins by looking at the end of the previous film.
This is done to prevent spoilers from leaking, and so this book begins by looking at the climactic Luke Skywalker scene from the end of The Last Jedi. And included in that is a quote from Dave Filoni, the head of Lucasfilm animation, regarding Luke’s character that I find absolutely fascinating.
Here’s what Filoni had to say at an Intellectual Property development Group meeting on May 21, 2014, as quoted in The Art of The Rise of Skywalker:
“I think Luke understands that it’s not about what he wants. It’s not about what he gains. It’s frankly about what everybody else gained. Sometimes, you have to be the one that carries that burden and becomes that vessel. These aren’t characters that go and get married. They don’t get over the scar. Frodo [from The Lord of the Rings] carries the ring to Mount Doom and for the rest of his life is plagued with fear. On certain days, he remembers those pains. Because he has to carry that burden. And Frodo has no peace until he leaves that world. Luke is that character.”
That’s a way of looking at Luke’s character that I’ve never considered before, but the more I think about it now the more I like it. There’s a certain poignancy to it, but I think it also serves to make him an even more heroic figure. Literally, Luke has given up the perfect, happy life for the good of the galaxy.
There’s a hint of that at the beginning of The Last Jedi novelization, written by Jason Fry. In that book, Luke has another dream given to him by the Force of his life on Tatooine, married to Camie… while the Empire still reigns. It’s an alternate version of things, but it’s traced back to this one idea: Luke could have had his happy little life on Tatooine, all the while the galaxy suffered. Instead, the Force chose him, and he rose to the task and helped topple Palpatine, Vader, and their Empire.
The difference between Luke and Frodo is that Frodo gave into the power of the ring, which was surely part of the scar he carried with him. Luke, meanwhile, only briefly flirted with the dark side in Return of the Jedi before stopping short of killing Vader. So Luke’s scars (at that point) aren’t because he failed but because of the sheer pressure and pain that came with facing off against evil itself, maintaining resolve, enduring suffering, and staying true to the light. You can’t just return to normal after that.
And Luke didn’t. He traveled the galaxy, searching for artifacts and studying history. But eventually, he took his nephew, Ben Solo, as an apprentice, and then he took others. He tried to revive the Jedi Order. But he failed, so he went into exile – wrongly thinking that was what was best for the galaxy.
I think this is a really fascinating way of looking at Luke’s character, and I appreciate Dave Filoni’s vast knowledge of other storytelling and mythology to help him think about Star Wars. It does make a good bit of sense to think that Luke couldn’t simply live a normal life after the events of the original trilogy. After all he had been through, like Frodo, he was forever marked.