The recent episode of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian looked at how the showrunners behind the successful Star Wars live-action series brought Luke Skywalker into the season two finale.
Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni spend a considerable amount of time talking about how they made this happen, as does director Peyton Reed and the incredible folks at ILM. They talk about pretty much everything, from bringing Mark Hamill back to the technology tried and ultimately used to de-age him to what clothes he would wear (is his cloak brown or black?) to how it played out in the episode to how they kept it a secret – and so much more.
It is a fascinating look at just how detailed these people are on things like this, as there’s nothing left undiscussed. But as some Star Wars fans are skilled at doing as well as anyone, one of the comments has been twisted and turned into a needless controversy (imagine that, right?). It all stems from one of the comments made by Dave Filoni in regards to Luke’s fighting style. Here’s what Filoni said:
“You know, we had a whole discussion about [how] it would be very easy to just make him so over-the-top skilled, but I was like, you know what’s interesting is he’s had training, but I don’t know who’s been teaching him swordfight training recently. So he had to have a style that was better than what we saw in Jedi, but fundamentally still of the same tree of swordfighting technique. And his technique and Ahsoka’s technique should be very different. And technically she’s had vastly more training than he ever has. She’s actually his senior, which is I think difficult for people to remember because of when these characters were created. So a lot of consideration given to every detail.”
That all seems pretty obvious and pretty harmless, right? Well not for everyone. In the time since the episode aired, there have been a small yet vocal segment of Star Wars fans upset about Filoni daring to suggest that Ahsoka Tano is stronger than Luke Skywalker. But this whole thing is totally overblown, and that’s for two reasons in particular.
First, these people are misinterpreting Filoni’s comments. I dare say that this is probably intentional and done to drive a faux outrage and generate clicks, but perhaps I’m just cynical. Anyway, it’s very important to note the context of what Filoni is saying here; he’s specifically talking about swordfighting. Filoni acknowledges that Luke has had some training but merely questions who is teaching him to fight with his lightsaber in this period. And that’s a very perceptive acknowledgement, because who is there to teach him how to do that? The only option (that we know of) is Force ghosts – and nothing we’ve seen from them suggests that these Jedi would have been sitting Luke down to teach him about how to fight with his laser sword. I am very confident that Luke was learning much from these Jedi in this period (and Filoni hints at that too), but not about this matter. So it must be noted, if we’re going to understand this whole discussion rightly, to point out that Filoni is talking specifically about this one area. He’s talking about what Luke’s fighting style would look like.
But second, these people are missing the fact that Filoni is right. Remember, he’s talking about fighting style here. One of the contenders was raised on a farm, didn’t begin learning the ways of the Force or hold a lightsaber until he was 19, trained briefly from two different Jedi Masters for a period of days (the timeline here is murky, at best), fought Darth Vader (and won), and is the last of the Jedi. The other was raised at the Jedi Temple during the era in which there were thousands of Jedi Knights, was apprentice to the Chosen One, worked with and trained under other esteemed Jedi Masters, fought in the Clone Wars, and faced foes like General Grievous, Maul, and Darth Vader. Any objective viewer would quickly come to realize that Ahsoka’s credentials in this category, when it comes to fighting with a lightsaber would be far superior to Luke’s. I’m not intending to downplay Luke here – I think that he becomes the greatest Jedi we’ve ever seen and that he’s a much quicker learner because of his natural connection to the Force. But I am saying that Filoni is merely stating the obvious, something that is an indisputable fact: Ahsoka has had FAR more training than Luke.
And it’s interesting, of course, that there seems to be a lot of overlap between the people who were upset about Rey being so powerful despite so little training and the people who are upset that Ahsoka is a more powerful fighter than Luke despite so much training. In fact, it’s curious enough that one might think the issue really is one of women being stronger than men, rather than these individual cases…
Anyway, here’s my whole point: yes, Ahsoka obviously had a ton more training than Luke did in how to fight with a lightsaber. I’m guessing that by the time of The Mandalorian, Luke’s strength in the Force probably surpasses Ahsoka’s (not like that should be a competition anyway) but isn’t as skilled of a fighter. That’s not all a bad thing, either, since wars aren’t what makes one great, but it’s the reality. Filoni isn’t saying that Ahsoka is a better Jedi than Luke, or that Luke never becomes a better Jedi than her. Filoni isn’t even saying that Ahsoka is stronger in every area than Luke. He’s merely saying that she has more training than him, and that should be reflected in how they handle a lightsaber.
I, for one, very much appreciate the showrunners paying such careful attention to these things that they want to stay faithful to the in-universe realities. They want it to be reflected that these two Jedi are from very different eras, with very different backgrounds, and want it to be notable in the way they fight. I think that’s fantastic.